|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
7034th Meeting (PM)
United Nations Strategy for Exiting Sierra Leone Remains on Course Despite
Development-Funding Gap in Excess of $2 Billion, Security Council Told
Members Hear from Mission Chief,
Chair of Peacebuilding Configuration, Minister for Foreign Affairs
Sierra Leone’s development plan for 2013-2018 was facing a funding gap of more than $2 billion, but the United Nations exit strategy remained on course to meet the March 2014 deadline, the Security Council heard today.
Briefing the 15-member body on major developments over the past six months, Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen, Executive Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL), said the new “Agenda for Prosperity” strategy laid the foundation for rapid and sustainable economic growth, as well as democratic transformation by focusing on key economic, social and governance sectors. However, implementing the five-year plan would cost about $6 billion, he noted, stressing the need to close the financing gap by gathering far greater international support and increasing national resources through foreign and domestic investment.
Another significant development was the 30 July launch of the long-awaited constitutional review, Mr. Toyberg-Frandzen said, noting that the process was led and owned by the people of Sierra Leone. Citing the need to sustain the hard-won gains since the end of the civil war a decade ago, he underscored the importance of further strengthening and empowering democratic institutions and promoting the rule of law and inclusive governance. Priority should be given to combating corruption, ensuring the professionalism and independence of the security and justice sectors, and building the capacity of national institutions, including Parliament. Political parties had an important role to play in maintaining and consolidating multi-party democracy and political pluralism, he said, emphasizing that it was incumbent on the ruling and opposition parties to resolve all intra- and inter-party disputes through dialogue.
Turning to UNIPSIL’s exit strategy, he said it addressed both the implementation of the remaining mandate of the Political Office and the transfer of residual tasks to the United Nations country team. Key activities in the three priority areas — constitutional review, security sector reform and conflict prevention — had been indentified for implementation over the next two to four years. The mission’s Aviation Unit and Democratic Institutions Section had already closed, he said, adding that the Human Rights Section would complete its work by 31 December, with the Resident Coordinator’s Office taking over its work. UNIPSIL’s three remaining field offices would be closed or transferred to the country team by the end of the year.
He went on to note that the country team had stepped up its work of finalizing a United Nations Development Assistance Framework for the period 2015-2020, which would replace the Joint UNIPSIL-country team strategy or the UN Joint Vision and provide support for the “Agenda for Prosperity”. “The implementation of UNIPSIL’s transition and exit strategy is on course, and we are firmly set to complete a full drawdown on 31 March 2014,” he declared.
In conclusion, he said that building a prosperous, democratic and peaceful country was not only the responsibility of the Government or a particular group, but “a shared responsibility of all Sierra Leoneans, including the country’s political parties, civil society, traditional leaders and others”. He urged all citizens to set aside their political differences and group interests so as to work together in a spirit of national unity in promoting their country’s development and democratization agenda.
Guillermo Ryshchynski, Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s Sierra Leone Configuration, said UNIPSIL’s exit plan focused on remaining challenges, particularly conflict prevention, security sector reform and human rights. It was also to be hoped that the forthcoming constitutional review would advance gender equality and help mitigate Sierra Leone’s “winner-takes-all” politics. Funding for the transition was not expected to be a problem, but the Peacebuilding Fund’s Immediate Response Facility could address any residual gaps.
He said the “Agenda for Prosperity” sought, among other objectives, to tackle violence against women, improve their economic empowerment and increase their participation in decision-making, he said, adding that it also sought to tackle youth unemployment. The Peacebulding Commission planned to hold a high-level meeting to discuss, promote and disseminate the Agenda.
The process of scaling down the Peacebuilding Commission’s presence had begun, he continued. Following an initial review examining progress to date, evaluating outstanding challenges and assessing areas potentially requiring additional support, a technical mission would visit Sierra Leone and begin to establish the parameters of the Commission’s transition. He said he planned to visit the country to discuss progress on the transition and the Agenda for Prosperity, and to finalize agreement between the Government and the Commission on the nature and duration of the latter’s continued support. A transition strategy would then be formulated and discussed with the Security Council in early 2014, he said.
Describing transition as a critical moment in peacebuilding, he said Sierra Leone had shown the Council what could be achieved through such efforts. The drawdown should be seen as a transformation of international support, not its culmination, and the international community should continue to devote attention and resources to building on the impressive progress already achieved, he stressed.
Samura M.W. Kamara, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone, described the “Agenda for Prosperity” as a road map to the attainment of middle-income and donor-country status within the next 25 to 50 years. It embraced the nexus between development, peace, security and stability, and was anchored on eight pillars, among them economic diversification to promote inclusive green growth; better management of natural resources; accelerating progress on the Millennium Development Goals for human development; and improving international competitiveness.
Highlighting the latest fragility assessment of his country, he said it revealed a reduction in the overall poverty profile from 66.4 per cent in 2003 to 52.9 per cent in 2011. According to preliminary estimates from the International Monetary Fund, its economy was on track to achieve 13.3 per cent growth, and the Government was committed to fighting corruption, poverty, the illicit trade in and transfer of small arms and light weapons, as well as drug trafficking and transnational organized crime. Sierra Leone continued to score high on the protection of human rights and had made significant strides towards creating a stable and secure environment for investment with the goal of ensuring wealth and jobs for youth, he said.
The meeting began at 3:13 p.m. and ended at 3:45 p.m.
* *** *For information media • not an official record