The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved Friday the deployment of 16,000 peacekeepers in the war-torn West African nation of Liberia for an initial 12 months.
The mission, officially known as UNMIL, consists of up to 15,000 military personnel and up to 1,115 civilian policemen, and is set to take over on Oct. 1 from the West African-led multinational force currently keeping peace in Liberia.
Under Resolution 1509, UNMIL's mandate includes monitoring implementation of the ceasefire agreed between the government and rebel forces in neighboring Ghana last month, assisting the peace process, providing security at key government installations, and protecting UN staff, facilities and civilians.
The mission is also to assist in humanitarian relief work and support security reform in Liberia, which has been suffering from a bloody internal conflict since 1998.
The resolution demands that all parties cease hostilities throughout Liberia, fulfill their obligations under the comprehensive peace and cease-fire agreements and cooperate fully in the deployment and operations of UNMIL.
UN Special Representative for Liberia Jacques Paul Klein told the council earlier this week that a 16,000-strong peacekeeping force was essential in order to bring the country from "hellish limbo" and end the "cycle of brutality, violence, corruption and instability."
The multinational force was deployed in Liberia in mid-August to halt the fierce fighting between the government of former President Charles Taylor and the rebel forces in the capital of Monrovia.
Under great pressure from Washington and the international community, Taylor was forced to step down and go into exile on Aug.11. After his departure, the Liberian government signed a comprehensive peace accord with the nation's two rebel groups, LURD and MODEL.
The United States sent three warships off the coast of Liberia in early August to support the deployment of the multinational force. But the US government never allowed the troops to get involved in peacekeeping on the ground.
The peace agreement provides for the establishment of a transitional government in October and a general election by January 2006.