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U.S. Department of State
96/01/25 USUN Press Release #006-(96)
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
 
 
 
FOR RELEASE ON DELIVERY                 USUN PRESS RELEASE #006-(96) 
CHECK TEXT AGAINST DELIVERY                         JANUARY 25, 1996 
 
 
Statement by Ambassador Madeleine K. Albright, United States 
Representative to the United Nations, in the Security Council on the 
Situation in Liberia, January 25, 1996 
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The Council has convened today to examine among a wider group of Member 
States the Secretary-General's fifteenth progress report on the United 
nations Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL) and to discuss the future 
of Liberia. 
 
I have just returned from a trip to Africa, including Liberia.  
President Clinton asked me to travel to Liberia to assess the situation 
there.  Although I have not yet reported to President Clinton, I would 
like to express today some observations and reflections on the situation 
in Liberia. 
 
First, I share many of the views set forth in the Secretary-General's 
report.  The peace process indeed is at a critical juncture "and the 
full support of all concerned will be required to overcome the recent 
setbacks."  The Secretary-General's observations about maintaining the 
cease-fire, the need for more resources to help ECOMOG to fulfill its 
responsibilities effectively, and the need to reintegrate ex-combatants 
into civilian society:  these are all central to finding a lasting peace 
in Liberia. 
 
I am both skeptical and hopeful about the prospects for peace in 
Liberia.  On the one hand, Liberia appears to have hit rock-bottom.  On 
the other, members of the Council of State seem to be working well 
together and all claim, at least, to be committed to peace.  Thus far, 
they are acting as though they are committed. 
 
Yet, it is unclear whether their commitment will be sustained as 
disarmament begins and elections approach.  It is also not certain that 
each of the main warlords can maintain control of his fighters.  Some, 
who feel left out of the process, may be capable of undoing it. 
 
The conflict in Liberia is among the elites, not the people.  They are 
not fighting over ideology, but over personal power.  That creates both 
risks and opportunities.  The risks are that the drive for personal 
power, particularly among the extremists, can lead to further carnage 
and destruction with little interest in preserving or building society.  
The opportunities are that it is difficult to sustain a power struggle 
on personal ambition alone.  Ultimately the people want peace in the 
absence of any ideological goal.  The people of Liberia want peace. 
 
In my meeting with the Council of State, I stressed the importance of 
the Council's role in keeping the peace process on track so that ECOMOG 
deployment -- temporarily interrupted by fighting and attacks on 
civilians in various areas by the ULIMO followers of General Johnson -- 
can recommence.  I said that although the United States and the 
international community remain committed to helping Liberia, only 
Liberians can make the peace.  I told them that the international 
community is losing its patience.  The Abuja peace process that took so 
long to negotiate and is now at a critical state of implementation.  The 
moderates will have to perform better if they are to sustain the support 
of the international community.   
 
The members of the Council of State offered many reasons for the delay 
in disarmament and demobilization.  Everyone but themselves were to 
blame.  My message to them was simple.  "No more excuses."  There can be 
no further delay in implementing the most important provisions of the 
Abuja Agreement, namely, those on disarmament and demobilization.  As 
far as the United States is concerned, the word "delay" can no longer be 
part of the vocabulary of the Council of State.  Otherwise, the fragile 
peace that does exist will collapse. 
 
Overall, at least for now, I found ECOMOG performing well.  They seem to 
be playing a neutral and constructive role now, as opposed to various 
times in the past.  Despite ECOMOG's losses in recent weeks, I was 
impressed by General Inienger's resolve to move forward in the face of 
adversity.  We believe ECOMOG deserves our support, both for the 
important role it is now playing in Liberia and because it represents an 
important precedent in regional peacekeeping that should be encouraged. 
 
We believe, however, the ECOMOG's force structure should be more 
diversified among Member States of the region if it is to constitute an 
authentic regional peacekeeping operation worthy of international 
support.  We also believe that ECOMOG must enter into a status of forces 
agreement with the LNTG so that ECOMOG's operations in Liberia are 
appropriately regulated. 
 
As the Secretary-General points out in his report, the international 
community "must provide the resources necessary to enable ECOMOG to 
fulfill its responsibilities effectively."  In recent years, the United 
States has provided $420 million in humanitarian assistance and $60 
million in support of ECOMOG's peacekeeping activities.  On October 27 
the United States pledged an additional $75 million to support peace, 
including $10 million to assist ECOMOG logistically.  The vehicles 
ECOMOG desperately needs to facilitate disarmament and demobilization 
have begun to arrive under the $10 million pledge and we hope to provide 
a total of up to 100 vehicles within the near future.  In fact the 
deployment of ECOMOG troops in December was only made possible by using 
trucks leased by my government through the assistance of the United 
Nations.  However, I said while in Monrovia that the United States has 
no intention of allowing its logistical support to be squandered by a 
failure of political will -- by any side -- to achieve the objectives of 
the Abuja Agreement. 
 
The United States calls upon other Member States to provide similar 
assistance as quickly as possible.  The assistance is needed not only 
for ECOMOG itself, but also to provide a more attractive demobilization 
package for ex-combatants. 
 
I also want to acknowledge the courageous work of the observers of 
UNOMIL.  Their role is vital to the success of the Abuja Agreement.  
When I was in Monrovia, I stressed to UNOMIL officers that in addition 
to monitoring the disengagement and disarmament of the combatants and 
assisting in their demobilization, we expect UNOMIL to follow through 
urgently on its other responsibilities, including investigating and 
reporting to the Secretary-General on human rights abuses, any major 
violations of international humanitarian law, and on humanitarian 
assistance activities.  We have noted with some concern the criticism 
from the NGO community that UNOMIL is failing to meet these 
responsibilities.  We have no doubt it is a tough assignment.  I told 
the Council of States that no party should hinder UNOMIL's important 
tasks. 
 
We are studying the Secretary-General's recommendation that the UNOMIL 
mandate should be extended for a period of four months until May 31 with 
an interim report by the end of March.  We believe it is very important 
for the Council to continue to review the situation to assess the 
progress of disarmament and demobilization and of preparations for 
elections, which are scheduled for August under the Abuja Agreement. 
 
There is a simplistic way of looking at Liberia -- that it is a land of 
chaos.  I do not subscribe to that view.  It is true that Monrovia is a 
devastated city.  Yet I witnessed a daily life on the streets that 
embodies a discipline and hope that the leaders of the country must 
nurture and live up to. 
 
I delivered a blunt message to the Liberian leadership in Monrovia:  the 
era of the child soldier in Liberia must come to an end -- immediately.  
It is an outrage by any standard of civilization that children under the 
age of 15 and numbering between 4,000 and 6,000 are toting automatic 
weapons, slaughtering innocent civilians, and ignoring the rule of law.  
They have no identity other than through the weapon they carry.  We 
believe UNICEF can play a key role in rehabilitating these abused 
children and I pressed that point during my discussions in Monrovia.  
The United States stands ready to assist UNICEF and the people of 
Liberia to save these children. 
 
Many UN relief agencies are actively assisting the people of Liberia.  I 
visited with many of these administrators.  We can all be proud of their 
contribution in the face of adversity.  But the international community 
needs to go one step further and consider how demobilized soldiers and 
other citizens can be put back to work  rebuilding their infrastructure 
which, to put it bluntly, is trashed.  The international community 
should have the technical assistance and other resources to help 
rehabilitate Liberia through technical and financial assitance for 
doable, targeted public works projects. 
 
Implementing the Abuja Agreement is Liberia's best chance to achieve 
peace and justice.  The violence must end and the hatred must subside.  
Liberia's leaders must find the political will, and its people the 
political courage, to succeed in building a new peaceful and prosperous 
Liberia. 
 
Thank you. 
 
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