With the United Nation mission that over the past six years has brought peace and stability to Sierra Leone winding up this month, the Security Council has called on donors and development partners to continue their support to consolidate the West African country’s rebirth after a vicious civil war.
“With Sierra Leone now stable and at peace, the Security Council sees a great opportunity for the development of a mature and vibrant political culture,” the 15-member body said in a presidential statement by read out by Paul Johnston of the United Kingdom, which holds the Council Presidency for December.
“Achieving this will require tolerance, cooperation from all sides and a shared commitment to act responsibly and avoid inflammatory rhetoric. To that end, government and political leaders should reaffirm their commitment to the basic principles of democratic governance. This will pave the way for fair, transparent and peaceful elections in 2007.”
Commending the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) for “its invaluable contribution” to the country’s recovery, the Council noted that the new UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNOSIL) had been set up to provide continued support to the Government as it tackles the many challenges ahead, including good governance, sustainable economic development, job creation and delivery of public services.
“The Government will need the sustained help of donors and development partners, particularly in addressing difficult but essential issues like security sector reform, fighting corruption, the reinforcement of governance mechanisms including the judiciary, and equal rights for women and girls,” it said.
“The Council, therefore, encourages Sierra Leone’s development partners to continue their support in all these areas, and notes with satisfaction the outcome of the recent Donors’ Consultative Group meeting on Sierra Leone in London,” it added.
The statement hailed the innovations in UNAMSIL’s methods of operation that may prove useful best practice in making other UN peacekeeping operations more effective and efficient, including an exit strategy based on specific benchmarks for drawdown and an integrated mission with a Deputy Special Representative managing governance, developmental and humanitarian elements.
Substantial, regular cooperation and coordination with other UN peacekeeping operations and offices in the region also played a significant role.
“The Security Council continues to emphasize the importance of a regional approach to the countries of West Africa,” the statement concluded. “The Council hopes that Sierra Leone’s neighbours will intensify their cooperation, not least through the Mano River Union and the Economic Community of West African States, especially in the area of peace and security, and with the continued support of the United Nations and development partners.”