Aug. 1 (Bloomberg) -- The United Nations Security Council
voted 12 to 0 to authorize deployment of a multinational
peacekeeping force to Liberia, clearing the way for the
arrival of Nigerian troops on Monday and the possible
participation of U.S. soldiers.
Council members France, Germany and Mexico abstained from
the vote because they opposed a provision in the U.S.-drafted
resolution that gives any American troops that serve in
Liberia immunity from prosecution by the International
Criminal Court. The U.S. is concerned about politically
motivated indictments for war crimes or similar offenses.
As many as 1,500 Nigerian soldiers are due to begin
arriving on Monday, ahead of 2,000 West African soldiers
responsible for enforcing a June 17 cease-fire between
government troops and rebel factions. The insurgents are
seeking to overthrow President Charles Taylor, who has
accepted an offer of exile in Nigeria as part of a plan to end
``Peacekeepers on the ground will secure the environment
for the delivery of humanitarian assistance,'' U.S. Ambassador
John Negroponte told the Security Council. ``Their presence
will support implementation of the cease-fire agreement,
including establishing conditions for the initial stages of
disarmament and demobilization activities. They will safeguard
security in the wake of Charles Taylor's departure.''
The resolution, which doesn't mention involvement of U.S.
soldiers, calls for the African force's eventual replacement
by UN troops and for Taylor's ``immediate'' departure. It asks
Secretary- General Kofi Annan to submit a plan for a UN
mission to Liberia by Aug. 15 and for deployment of UN troops
by Oct. 1.
The vote comes amid reports that Taylor left the capital of
Monrovia, forcing the postponement of a meeting with West
African envoys who planned to urge him to step down, and that
at least nine people died in new fighting.
Ghana's foreign minister, Addo Akudo Addo, said the envoys
were told Taylor had traveled southeast to the port of
Buchanan because fighting was going on there between his
forces and rebels, Agence France-Presse reported. Addo, among
the group of envoys who arrived in Monrovia today, said a
meeting with Taylor would ``definitely'' take place tomorrow.
Four children were among those killed when a mortar round
struck a house near the city's Old Bridge area, the Associated
Press reported, citing unidentified aid workers. The violence
ended a period of calm that lasted one day, after the arrival
of a 10-member advance team of West African peacekeepers.
The UN reported cholera is ``rampant'' in Monrovia and that
there are severe shortages of food, water and fuel.
The resolution urges all rebel forces to ``refrain'' from
seeking power by force once Taylor is gone and to agree to an
``all-inclusive political framework'' for a transitional
government until elections are held.
Bush last week ordered Marines to positions off the
Liberian coast, saying they won't go ashore until there is a
cease-fire and Taylor is gone. Bush has described the U.S.
involvement as support for the West African force.
The U.S. has pledged $10 million to support peacekeeping
forces in Liberia, and UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said the
world body would contribute as much as $10 million.
Taylor, who is charged with war crimes by a UN-backed court
in neighboring Sierra Leone, led the National Patriotic Front
in a seven-year civil war that ended in 1997. He became
president of Liberia in 1999.
Freed American slaves founded the country of about 3.3
million people in 1847.
The U.S. hasn't signed the treaty that created the
International Criminal Court, which is being organized at The
Hague, and the Bush administration has sought to include
protection of American troops in other UN resolutions. Most
Security Council members, who have signed the treaty, have
fought those exemptions.
Opposition to Resolution
The resolution says that troops serving in Liberia who are
from nations that haven't signed the treaty are ``subject to
the exclusive jurisdiction'' of their governments.
``It does not establish a commitment on the part of troop-
contributing countries to try officials who may have committed
offenses,'' Mexican Ambassador Adolfo Zinser said in
explaining his nation's opposition to the paragraph in the
resolution protecting U.S. troops from prosecution by the
``It limits jurisdiction of the International Criminal
Court,'' German Ambassador Gunter Pleuger said of the immunity
provision. ``There is no precedent for this and no
Amnesty International added its voice to the opposition,
issuing a statement that says the U.S. resolution runs counter
to international law by preventing accountability for war
``The gross violations that continue to be committed in
Liberia amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity,''
the statement said. ``The international community, which
united to create the International Criminal Court, has
reinforced the international obligation that the perpetrators
of such crimes, whoever they are, must be held accountable.''