"The meeting will review what has been done to implement the Lome Peace Accord and what needs to be done in the future," Spencer said.
The meeting was opened by the chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Malian President Alpha Oumar Konare. It is being attended by representatives of the Sierra Leone government - including President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah and ex-rebel leader Foday Sankoh - the ECOWAS Secretariat and ECOWAS member countries.
Spencer said representatives of the United Nations, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the Commonwealth were also present.
Implementation of the Lome Peace Accord, signed on 7 July 1999 by the government and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), has lagged in several areas. For example, government statistics show that only some 13,000 ex-combatants, out of an estimated 45,000, had been disarmed as at 20 January.
The international rights watchdog, Human Rights Watch (HRW), pointed to other delays in a letter dated 23 January which it sent to Malian Foreign Minister Modibo Sidibe. The rebels, it said, have "yet to follow through on their commitment to release all civilian abductees and prisoners of war" and "to allow for full humanitarian access to rebel-controlled areas".
In addition, HRW said, neither the Human Rights Commission nor the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have been set up even though both were to have been established within 90 days of the signing of the Lome Accord. HRW noted that there had been ceasefire violations, of which the overwhelming majority had been rebel attacks against civilian villagers. Such attacks, it added, were not covered by the general amnesty included the accord.
HRW called on the JIC to urge all parties to the Lome agreement, particularly Sankoh and his former ally Johnny Paul Koroma, to bring their troops under control and start criminal proceedings against those who continued to commit violations.
The last JIC meeting was held in August 1999.
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