Statement by Mr. Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen, Executive Representative of the Secretary-General, Security Council Meeting on Sierra Leone

26 Mar 2014

Mr. President,

Let me begin by thanking the Council for the opportunity to present the final report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL, document S/2014/192 dated 17 March 2014.) As you know, the report before you takes stock of the overall implementation of the mandate of UNIPSIL since its establishment in 2008. It also presents an assessment of the remaining challenges facing Sierra Leone after UNIPSIL draws down by 31 March, in accordance with Security Council resolution 2097 (2013).

Mr. President,

UNIPSIL is indeed in the final stages of its drawdown and as the Council is aware, the Secretary-General marked the formal closure of the Mission on 5 March 2014 during his visit to Sierra Leone. As the Council is also aware, the country has made remarkable strides in post-conflict recovery, democratic transition and peace consolidation. Indeed, the general atmosphere of peace that now prevails is the culmination of more than fifteen years of successive Security Council mandated peace operations in the country. As the report indicates, the progress achieved is attributable first and foremost to the determination of the people and Government of Sierra Leone to break with the past and work towards a peaceful, democratic and prosperous nation. It is also the result of a remarkable level of steady engagement of the UN and international partners, demonstrating that concerted international action can yield positive results.

Mr. President,

Though Sierra Leone is continuing on the right path, it still faces a number of challenges linked to the root causes of the war that require sustained attention and support. Allow me to emphasize some of these key remaining challenges as outlined in the Secretary General’s report. These are, 1. pervasive poverty and unemployment, especially among the youth; 2. endemic corruption and 3. upholding the rule of law and 4. the need for the authorities to widen the political space. The ongoing constitutional review process and the implementation of the Agenda for Prosperity are important opportunities in this regard. Addressing the remaining challenges require the joint efforts of all Sierra Leoneans to work together and to place the national interest above all other interests. During the Secretary-General’s visit to Sierra Leone earlier this month, it was heartening to hear all the major political parties speaking with one voice in a joint statement in which they committed to work towards a peaceful future for Sierra Leone.

Mr. President,

During its last year, UNIPSIL focused on its remaining mandate as outlined in Security Council resolution 2097 (2013) and the transfer of residual tasks to the United Nations Country Team. In that regard, I am pleased to note that the United Nations will continue to provide support, through the Peacebuilding Fund on constitutional review, security sector reform, human rights and conflict prevention.

Mr. President,

Just last week, the Minister of Finance and I co-signed the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for 2015 to 2018 which will serve as the United Nations strategy in Sierra Leone in support of the Government’s “Agenda for Prosperity”. I believe national authorities and institutions are ready and willing to assume responsibility for their country’s peacebuilding and development agenda. Nevertheless, the continued assistance of Sierra Leone’s international partners will remain critical. I urge Sierra Leone’s development partners to remain engaged and consolidate the many investments made over the years, including through support for the Agenda for Prosperity and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework. Increasing state revenue will also be crucial. I commend President Koroma for his “zero tolerance” approach to corruption; an important step towards improving the business climate and attracting investors with strong responsible business practices.

Mr. President,

SRSG Djinnit and I have worked closely together over the past month regarding UNOWA’s role in Sierra Leone after UNIPSIL’s drawdown, including through good offices on behalf of the Secretary-General, as needed. I am pleased to hear that the Peacebuilding Commission, with whom I will be meeting later today, intends to continue to monitor Sierra Leone with a view towards engaging on a needs basis. I would also like to underscore the importance of the Security Council’s support for regional peace and security efforts in the context of the African Union, the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) and the Mano River Union (MRU). The Council’s support for implementation of the Strategy for Cross-border Security in the MRU presents an opportunity in this regard.

In concluding, Mr. President, I seize this opportunity to thank the people and Government of Sierra Leone, in particular, H.E. President Ernest Bai Koroma, for his support to the efforts of the United Nations including the seamless and timely completion of UNIPSIL’s drawdown and exit. I would also like to reiterate our appreciation to the Peacebuilding Commission, the Peacebuilding Fund and all bilateral donors for the fruitful partnership for peacebuilding in Sierra Leone. Finally, I thank the Council for its commitment to succeeding in Sierra Leone throughout the United Nations peace operations the past fifteen years and particularly during UNIPSIL’s mandate.

Thank you for your attention.