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Nearly fifteen years after it unanimously adopted Resolution 1509 establishing the 15,000 strong stabilization force for Liberia, the United Nations Security Council on Thursday, April 19, held its final meeting on the situation in the country and renewed its commitment to support the process of peacebuilding and peace sustenance.

The Council commended the progress made in Liberia since 2003 including the peaceful transfer of democratic power, improvements in overall security, social cohesion, and human rights.

While calling on all partners to remain engaged with Liberia, Council members including Sweden, United States, China, Poland, Peru, Ethiopia, Cote d’Ivoire  and Equatorial Guinea, United Kingdom and France  urged the government to address the critical issues of rule of law, corruption, decentralization and land ownership, and violence against women.

According to a dispatch from Liberia's Permanent Mission to the United Nations, the Council, during the meeting,  also received the final report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in Liberia.

Presenting the SG's report, Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions  Alexander Zuev described the moment as a historic milestone and remarkable demonstration of confidence that the country is moving steadfastly along the path of sustained peace. " “It would be no exaggeration to characterize the Liberia of 2003 as a country in ruins, with a traumatized population and a predatory State.  For nearly 25 years, the country’s situation had required a constant presence on the Council’s agenda, but it had now turned an important corner" he said.

ASG Zuev told the Council while  national institutions had demonstrated their ability to plan, organize and secure sensitive political events such as elections, the Government would still face the challenge of ensuring that those institutions received the necessary financial and other investments and urged all partners to remain closely engaged in efforts to finalize and implement the national development agenda, which will align with the Sustainable Development Goals.

The ASG also urged the government to take the lead in addressing lingering challenges including the root causes of the civil war in Liberia. " Now, with the people and government of Liberia, lies the important work of continuing to build the nation--a unified, reconciled nation; with accountable government; committed to addressing corruption which is trending. A nation where all people share the benefits of Liberia’s abundant natural and human resources; a nation fully responsible for its own destiny; with institutions in the government providing guarantee of  security and provision of services to all its citizens” he stressed.

Speaking on behalf of the Peacebuilding Commission, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Sweden Ambassador Irina Schoulgin Nyoni assured that the Commission will continue its involvement in Liberia especially through the Multi-Partner Trust Fund and push for renewed and sustained political leadership regarding key structural reforms that would help to address some of the root causes of conflict in the country.

Also addressing the Council, Liberia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Israel Choko Davies said Thursday's meeting was "not only a historic moment but one of pride and joy for Liberians".

Mr. Davies expressed Liberia's gratitude to the United Nations, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union, European Union and other partners for their support during the civil strife in Liberia.

Acknowledging that challenges still loom in several sectors, Mr. Davies assured that the George Weah led Government would prioritize the critical areas of decentralization, land ownership and disputes, corruption, violence against women and girls, and called for the support of all partners along the way.

Highlighting the reciprocal peacekeeping efforts of Liberia--service with United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), Mr. Davies told the Council that  “even during our darkest moments and difficult days, and in our deepest despair, we still believed that Liberia would rise again… and today Liberia is rising."

Attesting to the progress in Liberia, Entrepreneur Chid Liberty, Chief Executive Officer of the fair trade company Liberty & Justice,  a company which distributes school uniforms in Liberia said the presence of children in uniforms was a clear signal that Liberia was peaceful and ready for investments.

Meanwhile, the Security Council has requested the Secretary-General to undertake within one year a study of the role of UNMIL in the resolution of conflicts and challenges in Liberia, which had allowed for the successful completion of its mandate and transition to the United Nations country team. Best practices and lessons learned from the Mission’s experience will be used to enhance the overall effectiveness of United Nations peacekeeping.

The conclusion of UNMIL operations marked the third United Nations mission closure in West Africa, following those in Sierra Leone and Cote d'Ivoire.