STATEMENT By H.E. MR. SHEKOU MOMODU TOURAY, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Sierra Leone to the United Nations At
The Security Council Public Debate on The Report of the Secretary General
On the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Mission
In Sierra Leone ( UNIPSIL )
New York , 22nd March 2010
Please permit me , first of all, on behalf of my delegation, to extend my heartfelt congratulations to you on your assumption of the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of March and to thank you for organizing this debate on the Fourth Report of the Secretary General on the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone ( UNIPSIL) . My delegation extends its sincere appreciation also to the Secretary General for the comprehensive and well-coordinated report. We also thank him for his excellent analysis of the current situation in Sierra Leone, pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1886 (2009), mandating him to submit a report on the activities of UNIPSIL every six months.
I also take this opportunity to convey my gratitude to members of the Sierra Leone Country Specific Configuration, especially its Chair, Ambassador John McNee for his outstanding leadership. My gratitude also goes to the Executive Representative of the Secretary General, Mr.Michael Von der Schulenburg for his productive and inspiring briefing today and the skillful manner he is handling matters in Sierra Leone. On behalf of my delegation, I extend thanks and appreciation to the Peacebuilding Commission and the Fund for their determined and untiring efforts to keep the process in full gear.
Mr. President ,
As we meet once again to consider the Review of the implementation of the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Mission in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL), a process designed to lead us to another extension of the UNIPSIL mandate for the next twelve months, I am gratified to note that significant progress is being made to combat the myriad of daunting challenges faced by the nation. Government remains fully committed to pursuing efforts aimed at consolidating peace and the promotion of sustained economic growth.
Mr. President , We concur with many of the issues raised by the Secretary-General in the Report before us.Laudable progress has been made in government’s commitment to promote good governance as evidenced by the strategic framework and concerted actions that government continues to take to facilitate the promotion of human rights, gender equality, decentralization , transparency and accountability in government , and the crackdown on corruption, drug trafficking and cross-border organized crime . Government is also determined to establish a culture of political tolerance among the country’s main political parties. These measures have led to a relatively peaceful political climate favorable for investments and improvement in the conduct of trade and commerce throughout the country.
The joint communiqué signed by the two main political parties—The Opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP) and the ruling All People’s Congress ( APC) on April 29, last year — continues to encourage peaceful co-existence and dialogue among actors of the parties, despite the periodic incidents of minor clashes between the supporters of the two rival parties . The recent appointment of former SLPP Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Septimus Kai-Kai , as Chairman of the newly-constituted independent national broadcaster, the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation ( SLBC ) , is a manifestation of government’s commitment towards political tolerance and the building of a strong democratic communications system. Sierra Leone also boasts today of having one of the most vibrant and independent media system , with over 20 registered newspapers representing all shades of political and social persuasion. The present climate of freedom of the press in Sierra Leone is promoting open and inclusive dialogue about the future of the country.
Mr. President, the government has over the past months demonstrated its commitment to ensure transparent and accountable governance by dismissing from service two more cabinet ministers and a number of public officials, including the Commissioner –General of the National Revenue Agency ( NRA ), after they were accused of corruption and abuse of office by the Anti-Corruption Commission ( ACC ). President Ernest Koroma remains committed to the pledge he took on the assumption of office in 2007 that there would be no sacred cows in government and that any minister or official found wanting in moral probity in the handling of the country’s meager resources would be relieved of his/her position and also made to refund whatever he/she misappropriated in addition to facing legal action . The ACC is relentless in its enforcement of the 2008 anti-corruption laws ,which are considered to be among the toughest in Africa. In recognition of government’s acknowledgement that corruption is a major threat to economic growth and prosperity , the ACC has instituted 15 successful prosecutions and recovered over 2 billion leones from stiff fines imposed on perpetrators ,and as result that Sierra Leone moved 12 places up in the corruption perception index of Transparency International.
Government recently completed the Bumbuna Hydroelectricity Project,which in addition to restoring power to a nation that has been in darkness for over a decade , holds the potential of providing much-needed impetus to socio-economic improvement as well as improving the quality of life of the people.
The government has also taken strong measures to improve security. Joint Police-Military patrols, under the Military Assistance to Civil Power ( MACP) Act, have been stepped up to tackle the spate of armed robbery in the city and this has helped to improve the security situation considerably.
Government, in its continued efforts to give relevance to the joint communiqué signed last year by the two main political parties, continues to take effective measures to ensure that the injustices of the past that led to the destructive 11 year war do not regain foothold in the society. In further attempts to get to the roots of the clashes between the SLPP and APC in Freetown last year, government has established an Independent Review Panel, composed of members nominated by both the SLPP and APC, to further investigate the clashes. The panel is presently in session and on conclusion of its sittings, will present its recommendations to government about measures needed to forestall a recurrence.
The showcasing of the Sierra Leone National Action Plan to eradicate gender inequality, discrimination and injustice, which was unveiled in the United Nations two weeks ago during the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Session, was another major achievement by the country to address the injustices of the past and a giant step to ensure that abuse, violence and discrimination against women are no longer tolerated in our society. In addition, the Human Rights Commission has been doing its utmost to monitor and to bring awareness to the human rights situation in the country, especially those of women and children .
Mr. President, the Consultative Group meeting held on November 18 – 19 in London on Sierra Leone was meant to foster and advance investor confidence in the country to generate wealth, create employment for its youthful population, particularly through a re-energized private sector and the implementation of the Agenda for Change. The endorsement of the Aid Policy constitutes one of the major milestones of the Consultative Group meeting and the Government has reiterated its firm commitment to its full implementation. We remain highly hopeful that partners will endeavour to scale up and deliver on their commitments in a timely and predictable manner.
Government has made such impressive strides that it also received favourable ranking from the Mo Ibrahim Government Index for being the most improved country in Africa in the area of governance over the past two years. In addition, recent World Bank study concluded that standards of governance , political stability and the ability of citizens to hold government accountable has improved more significantly in Sierra Leone than many other countries around the world.
Mr. President, despite these magnificent strides to promote responsible and responsive governance as well as accelerate the wheels of socio-economic and political renaissance, government is aware of the fact that significant challenges still remain and they continue to undermine its best efforts to improve the lives of its people.
One of the most thorny areas that continues to require urgent attention from stakeholders and Sierra Leone’s development partners is youth unemployment. A significant percentage of youth continue to be unemployed, and this predicament poses a serious threat to efforts to consolidate peace and stability in Sierra Leone .
A Youth Commission has been established, though it is yet not operational. We commend the German Technical Assistance ( GTZ) for engaging the youth in some form of gainful employment in garbage disposal in the capital of Freetown . However, the urgent need for resource mobilization to more meaningfully tackle this nagging problem of youth unemployment cannot be overemphasized. In this respect, Mr. President, I wish to appeal to our development partners to honor their pledges and provide not only the projected U.S. 350 million needed by government to implement its Agenda For Change , but other resources and job-creation opportunities required to ameliorate this problem of youth employment .
My delegation also continues to believe that Sierra Leone’s peace and stability still remains at the mercy of sub-regional socio-political instability , as evidenced by the present political crisis in neighboring Guinea ,which has the potential to spill over into our country .While government continues working with the Joint Drug Interdiction Task Force (JDITF) to make Sierra Leone drugs-free, the narcotic trafficking menace in West Africa and organized cross-border crime also remain real and require UNIPSIL’s continued engagement in Sierra Leone for many more years to come , especially with the fast approach of the 2012 Presidential, Legislative and local government elections.
Mr. President, let me conclude by reiterating our gratitude the United Nations, our bilateral partners and the international community at large for their continued engagement in Sierra Leone to ensure maximum success in socio-political and economic recovery and the consolidation of peace. Let me take this opportunity to also reassure this august body of the determination of the Sierra Leone Government to work cooperatively with the United Nations, our development partners and the international community to make sure that we surmount the many challenges facing us as a nation.
I thank you for your kind attention.