In Liberia, the United Nations supported the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a 16-country subregional organization, in its efforts to end a civil war that had broken out in late 1989. These efforts included establishing, in 1990, an ECOWASís observer force, the Military Observer Group (ECOMOG). The Security Council in 1992 imposed an arms embargo on Liberia, and the Secretary-General appointed a special representative to assist in talks between ECOWAS and the warring parties.

After ECOWAS brokered a peace agreement in Cotonou, Benin, in 1993, the Security Council established the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL). Its task was to support ECOMOG in implementing the Cotonou peace agreement -- especially compliance with and impartial implementation of the agreement by all parties. UNOMIL was the first United Nations peacekeeping mission undertaken in cooperation with a peacekeeping operation already established by another organization.

Delays in the implementation of the peace agreement and resumed fighting among Liberian factions made it impossible to hold elections in February/March 1994, as scheduled. In the following months, a number of supplementary peace agreements, amending and clarifying the Cotonou agreement, were negotiated. With the ceasefire in force, the United Nations successfully observed the conduct of the elections in July 1997. These led to the establishment of a democratically elected Government and the effective end of a war in which almost 150,000 people -- mostly civilians -- were killed and more than 850,000 became refugees. UNOMILís principal objective was achieved.

In November 1997, following the completion of UNOMILís mandate on 30 September, the United Nations established a post-conflict peace-building support office. Headed by a Representative of the Secretary-General, the United Nations Peace-building Support Office in Liberia (UNOL) was intended to strengthen and harmonize United Nations peace-building efforts, to help promote reconciliation and respect for human rights, and to help mobilize international support for reconstruction and recovery.


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