By KABS KANU
Since this year’s United Nations General Assembly fell between two very momentous news events —-The deadly mudslide in Freetown (that killed hundreds of citizens and left the nation enveloped in grief for weeks ) and the much-anticipated and awaited National delegates conventions of the two largest political parties in Sierra Leone ( the All People’s Congress –APC – and the Sierra Leone People’s Party -SLPP -where Sierra Leone’s next President was certainly to be unveiled ), it almost passed without much fanfare , especially as President Ernest Koroma did not attend because he preferred to stay home and grieve with and help his people.
However, such a very important event as the UN General Assembly , was always going to remain topical, regardless of whatever other newsworthy events surrounded it. And so it is that as the dusts settle on these three significant programs staged between September and October , the UNGA has bubbled back to the surface as Sierra Leoneans in the diplomatic community and the U.S. diaspora commend our nation highly for staging yet another successful General Assembly. A COCORIOKO survey found that Sierra Leoneans are highly impressed with their country’s representation at the UNGA.
Sierra Leoneans said that from what they read or heard in the media, including the international press and UN TV , the country was admirably represented and many of them thought that it was a test of the mettle of Foreign Minister, Dr. Samura Kamara especially, a test they said he passed with distinction.
How significant was this achievement ?
AT THE UN : FROM RIGHT -FOREIGN MINISTER SAMURA KAMARA; PR AMBASSADOR ADIKALI SUMAH AND DEPUTY HEALTH MINISTER MADINA RAHMAN
AT THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF UNGA 72 : FROM RIGHT -AMBASSADORS AMADU KOROMA AND FELIX KOROMA . AT THE BACK COL. MASSSAQUOI AND SAIFU GEORGE
According to the UN itself, “The General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations. Comprising all 193 Member States of the UN, it provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of international issues including peace and security” ( Role of the General Assembly. United Nations Peacekeeping ).
The UN General Assembly, it could be seen, is therefore a very important platform for all nations of the world as it does not only give them a stage to articulate their positions on world issues, but it provides them an opportunity to be a part of the solutions. Additionally, it provides a platform for nations to continue to engage in multilateral and bilateral intercourse with other countries and to build stronger and more fruitful alliances and convergences .
Sierra Leone’s place in the UN and the world of international politics has always been an enviable one since she became independent on April 27, 1961 and the 100th member of the UN on September 27, 1961. She has always played an active and significant role in the deliberations , activities and decisions of the UN , in all areas , including international peace and security , peaceful settlement of disputes, human rights and development, gender and women’s empowerment issues, development of youth, climate change, pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals ( SDGs), international collaboration in the economic, social, humanitarian, cultural, educational and health fields; She is also a vibrant player in the six main committees as well as the PeaceBuilding Commission ( PBC ), the Economic and Social Council ( ECOSOC ), regional organizations/groups accredited to the UN, including but not limited to the African Union Observer Mission ( African Group ) , the G77 and China ( G77 +), the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM ) , the Organization of Islamic Cooperation ( OIC ), the Group of Fragile States ( G7+) and of course the UN Security Council where Sierra Leone is in fact Chair of the AU Committee of 10 on the Security Council Reform Negotiations.
With such an honored place and high-profile participation in the UN, it is important that Sierra Leone excels herself in every UN General Assembly —-And she has just done that again this year. We will look at this in PART 2 of this article.
DR. SAMURA KAMARA
FINANCE MINISTER MOMODU KARGBO
MINISTER OF STATE, MS. ISATA KABIA
DEPUTY MINISTER OF HEALTH MADINA RAHMAN
For such an impressive feat once again, the praise starts with the hardworking staff of the Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the United Nations, headed by the Permanent Representative, an eloquent , exuberant , commanding and seasoned diplomat and lawyer , Ambassador Adikalie Foday Sumah, whose galvanizing , inclusive, motivational and outstanding leadership has brought tremendous boost in morale and esprit de corps at the New York Mission . Anybody in the diaspora will tell you that Ambassador Sumah brought with him from his previous assignment as Ambassador in Guinea an inspirational spirit that has even, for once, tremendously stirred up the Sierra Leone community to be a cooperative, working component of the operations of the Mission as seen recently when citizens in New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia volunteered to participate in the Mission’s drive to mobilize funds and resources for the mudslide victims in Sierra Leone.
AMBASSADORS STEVENS (LEFT ) AND SUMAH DELIBERATING
Ambassador Sumah is supported by a competent and equally hardworking team , consisting the two young and capable ambassadors, Deputy Permanent Representative for Political Affairs , Mr. Amadu Koroma and DPR for Legal Affairs , Mr. Felix Koroma , as well as the dashing, spirited , hands-on and committed Head of Chancery and Minister Plenipotentiary , Mr. Alhusine Sesay; Minister Plenipotentiary Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu, Counselors Allan George, Victor Sheriff, Saifu George, Sheku Misali, Franklin Fawundu, Mohamed Lamin Khan, military advisers Col. Muana Massaquoi and Col. Albert Jusu, Financial Attache Vafomba Barwoh, and the Secretaries Mrs. Iris Max-Macarthy and Mrs. Sherene Ranashinge , the receptionist Mrs . Fatmata Pemangbi and Facilities Manager Mr. Smart.
The efforts of the Permanent Mission were efficiently backed by staff of the Sierra Leone Embassy to the U.S in Washington, whose delegation, headed by the ever-impressive and productive Ambassador Bockarie Stevens and his staff consisting the Head of Chancery, Mrs. Isha Sillah, Counselor Fatmata Dao and Press Attache, Mr. Pasco Temple, also contributed to the success of the UNGA.
With President Ernest Koroma constrained to stay in Freetown and continue to help provide succour for the landslide victims, the mantle of official participation at this UN General Assembly fell on the shoulders of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Samura Kamara , who led the delegation ; the Director -General of the Sierra Leone Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Khadi Bassir; the Deputy DG, Mr. Paul Minah ; Sierra Leone’s Permanent Representative to the AU and Ambassador to Ethiopia, Mr. Osman Keh Kamara ; the Minister of Finance, Mr. Momodu Kargbo , the Minister of State 11, Foreign Affairs Ms. Isata Kabia; the Deputy Minister of Health, Madam Madina Rahman; the Director of the Open Government Initiative ( OGI ) , Ms. Khadija Sesay, the Director of International Affairs at the Foreign Ministry, Mr. Saidu Nallo and the Deputy Director of DACO, Ms. Abie Kamara, among others.
They all deserve commendation for the brilliant roles they played in making the 72nd Session of the General Assembly another success story.
Apart from the General Assembly debate, where Sierra Leone’s statement by President Koroma was delivered by Dr. Samura Kamara , key members of the delegation participated in side-meetings and events within the margins of the UNGA that helped to promote the main theme of this year’s assembly : ‘Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet’, and the overarching themes of making a difference in the lives of ordinary people; prevention and mediation for sustaining peace; migration; political momentum for the SDGs and climate; human rights and equality and equal opportunities for genders. Dr. Samura Kamara and some of the ministers and ambassadors also participated in bilateral and multilateral meetings that enhanced Sierra Leone’s place in international politics and diplomacy.
WATCH OUT FOR PART 2