H. E. Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma, President
25 September 2008
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ERNEST BAI KOROMA, President of Sierra Leone, delivering his first speech to the Assembly, said that although the United Nations sacred duty “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” had been “tested in fire” in Sierra Leone, his country had shown what the Organization could achieve when States worked together. His people understood the value of its work, and appreciated its support as they reconstructed their society, and moved from war to peace.
The session’s theme, which focused on the global food crisis and need to democratize the United Nations, was timely, he explained, especially as Africa had a disproportionate share of the world’s poor. Further, rising food costs posed a risk to stability, both in his nation and among other West African countries. It was vital that Africa increased food productivity and achieved food self-sufficiency. African farmers had to adopt higher-yielding land practices, and he welcomed the work of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, which recognized that massive investment in agriculture was key to finding a long-term solution. Sierra Leone was suitably positioned to benefit from such investment.
Noting that he coordinated the African Union Committee of Ten Heads of State and Government, charged with promoting the Common African Position on United Nations reform, he supported an effective United Nations that could meet a growing and complex array of challenges. While reform efforts had achieved “modest” successes, the critical issue of Security Council reform remained unresolved, and he called for making that body more representative of today’s realities. Its current composition contradicted basic principles of democratic representation. Africa’s collective position was outlined in the Ezulwini Consensus, and the continent would negotiate in good faith. The status quo was not an option, and Africa deserved permanent representation in the Council.
On peace and development issues, he said the Peacebuilding Commission and Peacebuilding Fund, among other mechanisms, were helping his country in critical ways to meet the challenges of post-conflict reconstruction. The United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission had made “extraordinary” contributions to establishing the rule of law, so that Sierra Leone could put its tragic past behind it. He commended the Special Court’s efforts to engage both his Government and the international justice community to make preparations for any residual issues that might remain following its closure.
In recent years, Sierra Leone had made progress in consolidating democracy and good governance, by conducting free, fair and non-violent presidential, parliamentary and local government elections. “We are on the right path,” he declared, thanking the global community for contributing to the electoral process. More remained to be done, and development was the foremost need.
“You can only be secure if you have food, shelter, clean water and protection from disease,” he said, which was why the “monumental task” of poverty eradication was among the country’s national priorities. The Government was completing a second generation Poverty Reduction Strategy. Despite difficulties, particularly in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, his Government was resolved to improving peoples’ lives. International support remained crucial.