29 September 2008The Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) through September 2009, and authorized Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to proceed with the planned reduction of the operation’s personnel. In his recent report on UNMIL, Mr. Ban stated that, despite its economy showing significant improvement, the struggle with the rule of law and competition over natural resources threatens Liberia’s fragile stability. He recommended repatriating almost 1,500 personnel – including troops, officers, observers, and engineering and administrative units – leaving a troop strength of just over 10,000 by September 2009. In a unanimously adopted resolution, the Council endorsed that recommendation, as well as the proposal to increase the number of UNMIL police officers from 605 to 845 “to provide strategic advice and expertise in specialized fields, provide operational support to regular policing activities and react to urgent security incidents.” The 15-member body also requested Mr. Ban to continue to monitor the core benchmarks for the drawdown of the Mission, and to report to the Council by 15 February 2009 on that progress, as well as any further adjustments needed.As of the end of July, UNMIL was comprised of nearly 13,000 troops, police officers and military observers. In an address to the General Assembly last week, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said UNMIL’s presence has been critical to the West African country’s progress in revitalizing its economy, rebuilding basic infrastructure, tackling corruption and consolidating peace and security after years of civil war.