U.N. votes to send peacekeepers to Liberia
Three on Security Council objected to ICC provision
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The U.N. Security Council approved a resolution Friday to authorize a multinational force to go into Liberia, by a vote of 12-0.
France, Germany and Mexico abstained from the vote.
"I am thankful that the resolution passed tonight," U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said after the vote. "I hope we will move ahead with urgent and determined action to help the Liberian people."
The three members that abstained objected to a paragraph within the resolution that would not allow the International Criminal Court to punish soldiers in the multinational force who commit crimes if they are from countries that have not ratified the treaty that created the ICC.
The United States has not ratified the treaty. It does not want to participate in the court and has tried to get an exemption from it because it fears it could open the door to frivolous lawsuits against the United States, its troops or its president.
Mexico, France and Germany said the paragraph has no place in the resolution and could set a dangerous precedent.
"We deplore that this resolution was used to introduce this precedent," Mexican Ambassador to the United Nations Adolfo Aguilar Zinser said after the session.
The first deployment of the multinational force will be a battalion from Nigeria, which is due to arrive in Liberia on Monday as part of the force from the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS.
Liberia has suffered through on-again, off-again civil war for nearly 14 years. The latest fighting began again about July 17, approximately a month after a cease-fire was signed by rebel forces -- who say they want a democracy -- and those supporting President Charles Taylor.
The resolution also lays the groundwork for a U.N. peacekeeping force to assemble. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Negroponte said Wednesday that the force could be ready to go in October.
The resolution said the situation in Liberia "constitutes a threat to international peace and security" and authorizes a peacekeeping force to establish "conditions for initial stages of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration activities."
The resolution also provides for a U.N. stabilization force "to support the transitional government and assist in the implementation of a comprehensive peace agreement."
ECOWAS officials had balked about sending peacekeepers without firm pledges of support by the international community.
The United States has committed $10 million to the peacekeeping force, and a U.S. task force with nearly 2,000 Marines aboard was headed for the Liberian coast, awaiting likely orders to support peacekeepers from the West African force.
A 12-member reconnaissance team, made up of Nigerian, Ghanaian, U.S. and British personnel, arrived Wednesday in Monrovia to prepare for the arrival of the peacekeepers.
President Bush has called on Liberia's president to leave his country. Taylor faces U.N. war crimes charges of supporting a bloody rebellion in neighboring Sierra Leone in exchange for diamonds. The Bush administration blames him for many of the region's problems.
Taylor has pledged to go into exile in Nigeria, but his spokesman recently has cast doubt on that promise, saying now that the president is keeping his options open.
The humanitarian situation, particularly in the capital, Monrovia, has deteriorated recently, and health officials fear the situation could get worse if help does not come soon. (Full story)
Thousands of refugees who came there to escape fighting in other parts of the country are eating stray cats and dogs, and drinking water from puddles.
CNN correspondent Jeff Koinange contributed to this report.