The Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations and Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), Ambassador Macharia Kamau, and the Permanent Representative of Canada and Chair of the PBC Country Specific Configuration for Sierra Leone, Ambassador Marc André Blanchard, led a delegation of the PBC to Sierra Leone from 12 to 14 June 2016. The objective of the visit, which is part of a PBC West Africa tour, which started in Liberia (9-12 June) and will continue to Guinea and Senegal, is to explore the sub-regional peacebuilding priorities and opportunities on the road to recovery after the Ebola outbreak.
The PBC delegation met the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, H.E. Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and members of Government of Sierra Leone, including the Ministers of Finance, Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, and Mines and Mineral Resources, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and the Deputy Ministers of Justice, Internal Affairs, and Health. The delegation also met with representatives of Political Parties and members of the Office of the National Security, the Ministry of Youth Affairs, National Electoral Commission, the National Human Rights Commission, the National Youth Commission, the Anti-Corruption Commission, and the Political Parties Registration Commission. Other meetings and consultations included representatives of the Civil Society, Women and Youth Organizations, the United Nations Country Team (UNCT), members of the diplomatic corps and development partners in Sierra Leone.
The PBC delegation also met with the Mano River Union Secretariat. Discussions highlighted the important role of regional and sub-regional organizations in sustaining peace in Africa, focusing on the political, socio-economic and cross-border peacebuilding priorities.
The PBC Chairs commended President Koroma and the people of Sierra Leone for their remarkable resilience during the 2014-2015 Ebola Crisis, and recognized President Koroma’s leadership in the ongoing implementation of the post-Ebola recovery plan.
The PBC Chairs stressed the importance of inclusive political dialogue, including through support for the implementation of the constitutional review process. The PBC Chairs emphasized the responsibility of all stakeholders, especially the political parties, in ensuring an inclusive, accountable and peaceful political process, especially in the run-up to the 2018 elections.
The implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and peacebuilding priorities were also discussed, including the strengthening of the national governance systems, the security and justice sectors, rule of law, human rights and capacity building. Recognizing the crucial role of community engagement and social mobilization in combating Ebola, many interlocutors stressed the need for continued investment in decentralized governance, with a particular focus on the border regions.
The PBC delegation underscored the importance of women and youth participation in sustaining peace efforts. The Chairs commended President Koroma for his Government’s commitment to the promotion of the gender dimensions of peacebuilding, and stressed the importance of gender-sensitive and targeted programming, as well as the strengthening of women’s meaningful participation in peacebuilding. The issue of adolescent girls, who are discriminated against and vulnerable to violence, was particularly emphasized as an urgent matter to be addressed. The delegation also encouraged inclusive participation of youth in peacebuilding efforts.
The PBC Chairs briefed national authorities and the relevant stakeholders on the landmark identical resolutions adopted by the General Assembly (A/RES/70/262) and the Security Council (S/RES/2282 (2016)) on the Review of the Peacebuilding Architecture, which emphasize the primacy of politics, and highlight the need to look beyond post-conflict peacebuilding to embrace the broader concept of ‘sustaining peace’, which encompasses activities aimed at “preventing the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict”.
The PBC Chairs reassured Sierra Leone of its commitment to continue its engagement in the country through the 2018 elections, recognizing that free and fair elections and a peaceful transfer of power will be an important milestone in Sierra Leone’s continued efforts in consolidating peace and democracy.
The PBC delegation is leaving Freetown today, heading to Guinea and Senegal before returning to New York on 19 June 2016.