The United Nations Assistance Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) began in 1999. At its height in 2001 it consisted of some 17,500 personnel. The mission had a strong influence on how the integrated mission concept is understood and applied today, particularly with regard to integrating humanitarian politico-military efforts and the UN system in the country, operating under the single leadership of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG).
In 2005, it was decided that UNAMSIL had run its course but that Sierra Leone (and its neighbouring countries) was still fragile and that continued UN support would be required. The United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) was therefore established, as a means of contributing comprehensively to Sierra Leone’s peacebuilding efforts and to the consolidation of democracy in a post-conflict environment (Atuobi 2009). In October 2008, the Security Council created the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL), a new, smaller, integrated peacebuilding office to continue the UN’s commitment to assisting the country’s new government with peace consolidation and economic recovery (United Nations 2009). The transition was viewed as an opportunity to strengthen the capacities of the United Nations to provide more targeted and effective support to the Sierra Leone Government (UN 2008).
Thus far, analysis of the nature of the transition from one mission to another is virtually non-existent. Because it is part of a broader approach to UN integrated working, UNIPSIL’s impact (and by extension analysing the transition to UNIPSIL) is difficult to assess. This report therefore relies on UN documents that discuss the different mandates of the missions, various commentaries on the transitions, and studies of particular development aspects that the various missions were involved in (elections and promoting gender).
A review of the mandates illustrates how the changing roles of the various missions were envisioned and incorporated into mandates, from monitoring the peace agreement, to peace consolidation and longer-term peacebuilding. The commentary shows that the various transitions were largely considered successful due to:
- careful planning
- widespread awareness-raising among the general public
- clear, targeted mandates
- the effective application of an integrated post-peacekeeping approach.
Constraints have, however arisen, as a result of the limited availability of post-crisis funding and the complexities associated with attempting to integrate disparate UN agendas. There was also the danger of a lack of continuity as the missions took over from one another, in terms of certain programme areas, such as gender.