The halls of the United Nations Headquarters in New York are reverberating with praise and pats on the back for Sierra Leone as the once war-torn countryÂ has been declared a success story in Africa in the significant areas of good governance, political tolerance, strong commitment to fight corruption and drug trafficking and her pursuit of praiseworthy peacebuilding initiativesÂ . Commendation for Sierra Leone hit the roofÂ during a week of sessions on the UN Peace building Sierra Leone Specific Configuration. Infact, due to her success, Sierra Leone has been invited by Austria to become a co-founder of the International Committee For the Fight Against Corruption, which represents international recognition and a major boost for President Ernest Koroma’s no-nonsense stance towards corruption. (Photo: President Ernest Bai Koroma, whose leadership is impressing the international community)
It all started on Monday March 15 when the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, released his Fourth Report on the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office (UNIPSIL), pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1886 mandating him to submit a report on the activities of UNIPSIL every six months, a process that often leads to the extension ofÂ the UNIPSIL mandate in Sierra Leone for another 12 months . The UN held a session on Monday to consider this report by the Secretary General and during the meeting Sierra Leone was praised by the Executive Representative of the Secretary General , Mr. Michael Von Der Schulenberg , the Chair of the Sierra Leone Country Specific of the Peacebuilding Commission , Mr.John McNee and representatives of stakeholders for her impressive strides in peace building.
The session came at the heels ofÂ the return from Sierra Leone of a high-level UN delegation of the Peacebuilding Commission Sierra Leone ConfigurationÂ consisting of Permanent Representatives of Canada, Austria, Czech Republic, Republic of Korea ,Liberia ,Peru and the Focal Point of the PBC at the Sierra Leone Permanent Mission to the UN, Counselor Mannah Kpukumu,who conducted a field trip to the country to assess the situation on the ground ahead of the Secretary General’s Report.Â
Yesterday, the UN was debriefed by the Peacebuilding Commission Delegation on its observations during the last field trip at a session attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mrs. Zainab Hawa Bangura.
The Chair of the occasion, Canada’s Permanent Representative,Â Mr. John McNee, who also heads the UN Peacebuilding Sierra Leone Configuration , thanked the government of Sierra Leone and UNIPSIL for the welcome received. He said that the visit revealed the strong commitment of the Sierra Leone Government and stakeholders towards consolidating the peace .He disclosed that Sierra Leone remained a success story and that important steps had been taken in some priority areas for the consolidation of peace, viz: strong stand against corruption, drug trafficking and decentralization .He also lauded the formation of the Youth Commission as an important step to tackle youth unemployment. He also praised President Koroma’s commitment to inclusive governance as indicated by his appointment of a key member of the opposition, Professor Septimus Kai-Kai to head the newly-reconstituted Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation.
In his contribution, the Czech representative said that Sierra Leone has become a special case in the area of peace building. He however stressed the importance of the forthcoming 2012 elections and the need for the UN and stakeholders to synchronize their efforts with the political realities on the ground. UNIPSILÂ must be able to respond to the situation that would soon be coming on the ground to avoid surprises. He lauded the regional approach to solve some of Sierra Leone’s problems because the regional elements were very important. While thanking the ERSG , Dr. Shulenberg, and the UNIPSIL Team for promoting dialogue among the political parties , he also stressed the importance of the regional emphasis and cooperation, especially within the context of the Mano River Union ( MRU), in fighting scourges like drug fighting.Â
Austria ‘s Representative said he was very impressed by Sierra Leone’s successes in the fight against corruption, drug trafficking andÂ gender inequality. He disclosed that the PBC delegation visited the ACC and the Commission exemplified the commitment of the country and President Koroma in combating corruption which has changed the perception index of the country by Transparency International. He announced that because of her achievements, Sierra Leone has been invited by Austria to become co-founder of the International Committee for the fight against Corruption.
The Representative of The Republic of KoreaÂ said that the trip was a meaningful learning process and he was impressed by the great improvement Sierra Leone has made in fighting corruption and promoting human rights. He however drew attention to the problems of youth unemployment and distrust between political parties.He suggested integrated approaches involving the regional element and for brand-new ideas for funds and resource mobilization.
Burkina Faso ‘s Representative praised Sierra Leone for her efforts in promoting peace andÂ economic GrowthÂ and ensuring an end to impunity. He also thanked bilateral and multilateral partners who have remained engaged in Sierra Leone.
The Liberian Representative said she came backÂ enriched and impressed by the efforts being made by Sierra Leone to consolidate peace and security. She said that she saw lots of progress but also challenges that require more efforts to combat them. She suggested that the ACC andÂ the Human Rights Commission must be nurtured and the International Community must provide support and guidance in this respect. She stated that women’s participation and women’s rights were lagging behind and that traditional law dominate in certain areas, thereby hindering the inclusion of women .She appealed to donorsÂ to be more forthcoming and also called for sub-regional approaches in peace consolidation.
The Representative of Portugal remarked: “We all agree that Sierra Leone has become a success story and an important model for peace buildingâ€ which he attributed to the commitment and determination of the country to succeed. He extends his thanks and appreciation to President Ernest Koroma for his efforts which are bound to succeed. He however suggested that youth unemployment, political issues and the brain drain should be addressed.He noted the remarkable progress done in Sierra Leone to promote political dialogue and advised that this be carried over to the 2012 elections. Drug trafficking, he too suggested, must be tackled regionally.Benin also emphasized the importance of regional efforts in peacebuilding and combatting drug-trafficking.
Bangladesh stressed the development of skills and technical know-how to tackle youth unemployment in Sierra Leone while Peru called for transnational approaches to deal with migration, integration and youth employment. Brazil ‘s representative said he was impressed by the fights to promote political dialogue and to combat corruption and drug-trafficking and disclosed that Brazil has identified areas for bilateral cooperation with Sierra Leone, especially the health sector.Â
Australia’s representativeÂ initimated that Sierra Leone has become a success story andÂ his country was inspired by the hope Sierra Leone provides and impressed by the leadership she has demonstrated. Australia made a commitment that the country would help Sierra Leone. A team will be sent to Sierra Leone to determine the areas where help will be provided but the representative suggested the mining and extractive industries.Â
Nigeria’s representative noted Sierra Leone’s achievements in fighting corruption and drug-trafficking , which are problems his country is also fighting. He appealed for investment in Sierra Leone in the private sector and youth employment and he promised that his country remained available to help in pursuing the regional dimension of peacebuilding.ÂLeeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu, Minister Plenipotentiary, Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the UN, NY, USA
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