05 March 2014

Opening remarks at press conference with President of Sierra Leone

Ban Ki-moon

It is a great honour and pleasure for me to be back in Sierra Leone for the second time as Secretary-General of the United Nations . In fact, including my previous visit, this is my third visit. The first was in 2002 when I was working as Chief of Staff of the President of the General Assembly of The United Nations. I paid a visit to UNAMSIL at that time. In a UN capacity, this is my third visit. I am very pleased to be back.

I am honoured to join the Government and people of Sierra Leone in celebrating the completion of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office, UNIPSIL.

This marks the end of more than 15 years of successive peace operations that all played critical roles in supporting Sierra Leone’s remarkable transition from war to peace.

For me personally I feel very proud that I have been witnessing or observing all this process -- except UNAMSIL, the first UN Mission […] I have been observing and witnessing and I am very proud to be witnessing this one.

Sierra Leone represents one of the world's most successful cases of post-conflict recovery, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. Here we have seen great strides towards peace, stability and long-term development.

Sierra Leoneans can be proud of the Special Court a landmark in the global struggle against the worst crimes.

The transition from UNIPSIL a political mission – to a more development-focused UN presence testifies to the determination of the Sierra Leonean people to put the war behind them.

The international community has stayed the course through the challenging process of keeping, consolidating and building peace. Other countries that are now torn by war can draw hope and lessons from Sierra Leone’s inspiring example of the power of international solidarity and national resolve to overcome even the most brutal conflicts.

President Koroma and I just had very constructive discussions on a number of issues, including the continued cooperation between the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone.

Later today, I will meet with representatives of the political parties, as well as civil society.

I commend all Sierra Leoneans for completing three peaceful and democratic elections since the end of the civil war, accompanied along the way by the United Nations.

I am especially pleased that the Sierra Leone Police and Armed Forces are serving in United Nations and African Union peacekeeping operations in Darfur, Lebanon, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan.

This is a powerful example of the country’s progress and the growing professionalism and institutional development of its security forces. It is also a strong vote of confidence in the value of UN blue helmets from a country that once hosted the largest UN peacekeeping operation in the world in its day.

Today we will formally close UNIPSIL – but the UN Country Team will continue to accompany the people and Government of Sierra Leone on the journey to long-term development.

The specialized agencies will carry forward some of UNIPSIL’s residual tasks, including support for the ongoing constitutional review process.

We are also finalizing the UN Development Assistance Framework – UNDAF – to support the Government’s Agenda for Prosperity.

As we mark the successful completion of UNIPSIL’s mandate, we recognize that efforts must continue to build a more peaceful, democratic and more prosperous country based on the principles of the rule of law and good governance.

I am confident that under the leadership of President Koroma, Sierra Leone will further advance towards a better future. The United Nations is ready, always, to work with the Government and people of Sierra Leone.