Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
September 16, 2011

Thank you, Mr. President.

Liberia, we are pleased to note, has come a long way, both with the support of the international community and especially through the great effort by Liberians themselves to foster peace. We are committed to ensuring that peace is sustained.

West Africa remains a volatile region in which, unfortunately, the Council has had to authorize repeated interventions. The nations of West Africa are interdependent and their economies will rise together as stability takes hold, or fall together if conflict, chaos and refugee crises repeat themselves.
This resolution continues to support Liberia as it strengthens its own state capacity for security and the rule of law. We are not ready to pre-determine Security Council actions on so important a matter as UNMIL’s drawdown, given uncertainties surrounding the election and tensions in the region.

As SRSG Loj noted in her remarks to the Security Council, Liberia’s elections come at a critical time for the sub-region with the recent crisis in Cote d’Ivoire and the subsequent increase in humanitarian concerns along the Ivoirian border. The past eight years have been the longest period of unbroken peace in the last three decades for Liberia. Most importantly, these elections are the first organized and run by Liberians. Now is not the moment to impose rigid timelines on UNMIL.

We hope, and expect, to be able to draw down UNMIL’s military presence next year. Indeed, we have drawn down UNMIL’s authorized military strength in the past, from 15,000 to well fewer than 8,000 today. But any further changes to UNMIL’s configuration must be a decision made based on the facts on the ground, and not by any artificial deadline.

With Liberia’s elections only four weeks away, now is the time to demonstrate unity, and we’re glad this Council has. With this resolution we are expressing our solidarity with the people of Liberia and the region, while committing to a serious review of UNMIL’s mandate as conditions allow.