Nigerian soldiers with the United Nations Mission in Liberia. UNMIL Photo/Staton WinterSecretary-General Ban Ki-moon has recommended that the United Nations peacekeeping operation in Liberia be reduced gradually by about 4,200 troops in three phases between this year and 2015, when it will have a residual presence of approximately 3,750 soldiers.

?While Liberia no longer faces any military threat, the country still has significant challenges because of its limited national security capacity,? as well as other potentially destabilizing factors, Mr. Ban wrote in his latest report to the Security Council on the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), issued last month.

Mr. Ban also recommended that the Mission?s police component maintain its current strength of 498 advisers and 845 officers in seven formed police units, and be authorized to add three formed units as needed over the next three years. UNMIL currently has a total of 9,195 uniformed personnel, which includes 1,279 police, including those serving in formed police units.

The UN chief pointed out that much has been achieved in enhancing peace, promoting economic recovery and social advancement and strengthening regional cooperation in Liberia under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. However, he noted, the gains remain fragile and susceptible to reversal as long as the socio-political basis of governance is not understood by all Liberians.

?Building credible and effective institutions, particularly in the security and rule of law sectors, will require progress in overcoming the root causes of the country?s conflict, including structural inequalities,? Mr. Ban stated.

?Considerable political will and commitment is essential from all stakeholders, and I therefore call on the people and the Government of Liberia to continue their efforts to strengthen the foundations of democracy, and for international partners to stay the course in Liberia and support national efforts to consolidate the conditions for lasting peace and development,? he added.

Mr. Ban also noted that continuing stability in Liberia will also depend on the evolution of the situation in the sub-region and the development of national and regional capacities to respond to sub-regional threats to peace and security, which remain a serious concern. He reiterated the UN?s readiness to support West African regional initiatives to enhance stability.

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