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Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation: statement on the integrated peacebuilding office in Sierra Leone

STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY MR. JOSEPH B. DAUDA Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

At the United Nations Security Council on the Seventh Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone New York, September 12, 2011

Mr. President; At the outset I join other previous speakers in congratulating you for assuming the presidency of the Security Council for the month of September and at the same time thank members of the Council for giving me the opportunity to intervene on this agenda item on UNIPSIL now under consideration by Council.

I convey on behalf of His Excellency, President Ernest Bai Koroma and the people of Sierra Leone profound appreciation for the relentless support and active interest by the United Nations and friends of Sierra Leone to consolidate our peace, stability and development. Permit me to single out in this regard, the strong leadership and commitment in the pursuit of peace and development in Sierra Leone displayed by Amb John Mcnee as Chair of the Sierra Leone Configuration, and to express our sincere gratitude personally to him, his Mission staff and the Government and people of Canada for such exemplary and record setting role worthy of emulation and recognition. We wish him well in his future assignments. We look forward to continue working with Canada in consolidating the gains made towards the transition in the aftermath of conflict to a more development focused phase, and welcome his successor Ambassador Guillermo Rishchynski with open arms and high expectations, together with a very warm embrace. We thank him for his instructive intervention to this debate.

Our thanks also go to the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Michael Schulenburg for his remarkable show of understanding of the situation on the ground and to the United Nations Country Team for the strong support in helping to consolidate peace and maximizing the gains of our post-conflict development effort. I acknowledge Mr. Schulenburg’s kind sentiments expressed about me in his statement, and I would like to assure him of my continued cooperation and support in helping the consolidation of our peace process.

The Secretary General’s Seventh Report on the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone accurately catalogues the progress made and the remaining challenges in our efforts at peace consolidation and transition to a more developmental phase.

His Excellency, President Ernest Bai Koroma and Government remain firmly committed to the vision of our International partners including the UN and the Peacebuilding Commission in ensuring durable peace, stability and fostering socio-economic development as mapped out in our Agenda for Change. It is within this context that he launched the idea of an all-inclusive and non-partisan National Conference during his speech celebrating our 50th Independent anniversary.

Mr. President; The concern for the implementation of the Joint Communiqué of April 2, 2009, alluded to in the report is well noted. We would like to assure the Council that Government will continue to engage with all stake holders as was demonstrated in working with UNIPSIL to establish the All Political Parties Youth Association and the All Political Parties Women’s Association aimed at preventing political violence, fostering inter-party dialogue and in the case of the APPWA, further enhancing women’s participation in politics.  In that regard, I am happy to share with you that we now have 14.5% of women holding political office, almost halving our target of 30%, and also continue to make progress towards the education of the girl child and providing free healthcare to pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five years old.

 

We are also making steady progress in putting structures in place to address, youth unemployment, corruption, trans-national organized crime, participation of women in peacebuilding and public service, and gender based violence. In response to youth unemployment which remains to be a significant challenge to the peace consolidation process, a new Ministry of Youth Employment and Sports has been established and a National Youth Commissioner and Board members of the Commission have been appointed to provide the policy framework. These measures would pave the way for the meaningful participation of the youth in national development.

Mr. President; Government remains committed to the conduct of peaceful, free, fair credible and transparent elections in 2012. We welcome all the support of the United Nations and development partners in this direction. President Koroma’s commitment to a peaceful political environment was recently demonstrated by ensuring a conducive atmosphere for the main opposition party, the SLPP to elect its party officials including its presidential candidate for the 2012 elections.  Indeed a successful outcome of the 2012 elections is a well acclaimed benchmark and indicator in assessing whether meaningful peace and stability have really taken firm roots in our national strides; together with the much talked about idea of a transition process or phasing out of UNIPSIL into a UN Country Team.

The National Electoral Commission (NEC) and the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) enjoy independence to deliver effectively on their constitutional mandate free of interference. Efforts are also being made by the Electoral Commission in consultation with all stakeholders including political parties to consider reform of the electoral process. The Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation, the Independent Media Commission (IMC) and the Editors Guild continue to play a central role in providing equal access to airtime on radio and television by the public and political parties in particular.

We are equally committed and responsive to concerns raised in the report regarding the mining sector and management of our natural resources by taking measures to improve the governance of the sector and ensuring greater transparency and accountability in order to maximize benefits derived from the country’s mineral resources for the benefit of all Sierra Leoneans. To that end, we have sought support from our development partners to build the capacity of the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources.

Mr. President;  Continued support of the international community and our development partners is however required to build on the gains made to further consolidate peacebuidling in Sierra Leone. In particular, support to the National Electoral Commission, addressing youth unemployment, support to the Anti-Corruption Commission, the reparation process as recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, provision of vehicles for the Sierra Leone Police to enhance their capability and make them more mobile and visible during the elections and after, are issues requiring urgent attention and solutions in consolidating gains already made.  Successful conduct of peaceful, free and fair elections largely requires all stakeholders to be responsible and adhere to the electoral laws and other relevant national legislations. In particular, there is a need for all stakeholders including international players to be biased in favour of consolidating peace and stability in Sierra Leone and not to be seen to be supportive of perpetrators of gross human rights abuses and violations. At this stage of the peacebuilding process, such conduct could tend to be misunderstood and incite violence which could then relapse into conflict.

Furthermore, drug trafficking and organized crimes continue to pose serious challenge to the ECOWAS sub-region. With support from United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime, Sierra Leone, within the framework of the West Africa Coast Initiative has gone far ahead of other affected countries in putting in place the structures for the Transnational Organized Crime Unit to be functional and effective. Additional assistance to the Government in promoting good governance and the rule of law; combating illicit drug trafficking and organized crime; providing support to the Human Rights Commission; and assisting in strengthening national capacity building in the areas of law enforcement, forensics, border management, money laundering and the strengthening of criminal justice institutions is also required to consolidate and build on the gains made in these key peacebuilding areas.

On the socio-economic front, the prevailing global economic and financial uncertainties, and debt crisis are seriously undermining our efforts to turn around the economy as quickly as desired. In view of the severe impact of these uncertainties on our efforts, and in support of the strides we have made in socio-economic development, we look forward to the adoption of effective ways and means by which the international community and development partners could respond to the needs of the funding gap in the implementation of the UN Joint Vision for Sierra Leone. We appreciate the positive response by some of our development partners and friendly countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Ireland and Italy for their contribution to the Multi-Donor Trust Fund and appeal that appropriate steps be taken towards fulfilment of commitments with regard to the pledges made at the Consultative Group Meeting on Sierra Leone held in London in 2009.

We are fully aware that attracting FDI and a conducive and purposeful business environment remain key in establishing a more secure Sierra Leone and in protecting its citizens from fear and want. Government will relentlessly continue to pursue that objective.

Whilst we share together the accolade for the progress made, it is important to gently urge our friends, the international community and the United Nations to continue investing in success as we relentlessly work towards achieving our shared objectives in peace consolidation and development.

 

I would like to draw Council’s attention to the increase in mercenary activities in the MANO River basin, which require our collective effort and support to address before it eventually gets out of hand and undermine the peace and stability of the sub-region.  We welcome the support by the United Nations towards the trial of Mr. Charles Taylor by the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Before concluding this statement, I would, like with the leave of council to brief Council on recent outbreak of violence in Bo in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone.  (Refer to attached brief on Bo incident

Mr. President;

Finally, allow me once again to reaffirm our deep appreciation to the United Nations, the PBC, the Chair and members of the Sierra Leone Configuration and development partners for their continued support towards peacebuilding and peace consolidation in Sierra Leone.

 

I thank you all for your attention.

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