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UN Declares Sierra Leone a Success as Peacekeeping Mission Winds Down

Mar 27, 2014 11:55 AM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations in Sierra Leone are set to wrap up at the end of this month after 15 years. The top UN official in Sierra Leone said that while the West African nation has gained solid footing on the path to recovery, it will still require sustained international attention and support to address the lingering challenges from the brutal civil war in the 1990s. 

“The general atmosphere of peace that now prevails is the culmination of more than 15 years of successive Security Council-mandated peace operations in the country,” said Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen, delivering his final briefing to the Security Council on the work of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL).

He also praised the determination of the people and the government to break with a violent  past and work toward a peaceful, democratic and prosperous nation. Sierra Leone faces challenges linked to the root causes of its decade-long civil war.  Toyberg-Frandzen said the work ahead must address pervasive poverty and unemployment, especially among the youth, as well as endemic corruption, in addition to upholding the rule of law and widening the political space.

“Addressing the remaining challenges requires the joint efforts of all Sierra Leoneans to work together and to place the national interest above all other interests,” he said, noting that during Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Sierra Leone earlier this month for a special ceremony to honor the country and UNIPSIL, it had been heartening to hear all the major political parties speaking with one voice in a joint statement in which they committed to work towards a peaceful future for Sierra Leone.

UNIPSIL will transfer its responsibilities to the UN Country Team, which consists of 19 agencies, funds and programs based on the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), and in support of the government’s “Agenda for Prosperity,” a social and economic development strategy for 2013 to 2018.

“I urge Sierra Leone’s development partners to remain engaged and consolidate the many investments made over the years, including through support for the Agenda for Prosperity and the UNDAF,” said Toyberg-Frandzen.  He also commended President Koroma for his “zero tolerance” approach to corruption, an important step toward improving the business climate and attracting investors with strong responsible business practices.

Guillermo E. Rishchynski of Canada, the chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission’s Sierra Leone Configuration, hailed the country’s achievements as “tremendous” as it transitions from the special attention due post-conflict countries to a more traditional development footing.

“It is also worth pausing a moment to reflect on the speed of this transformation. Fourteen years ago the country hosted the world's largest peacekeeping mission,” he said, adding that at a time when much policy attention is focused on managing periods of transition, Sierra Leone stands as an example of what is possible, with successively smaller peace operations successfully giving way to an integrated peacebuilding office and now a UN Country Team.

Rishchynski noted that Sierra Leone needs sustained support because too often, the international community has failed to adequately persevere for the full duration of peace consolidation efforts.

The Peacebuilding Commission's engagement with Sierra Leone will continue over the course of the coming year, in a significantly scaled back capacity. He said that this role will be “lighter” than the current mode of engagement, with the emphasis on serving as an advocate with the international community and responding to needs as they arise by mobilizing international attention.

“Recognizing that this new role is precedent-setting for the Peacebuilding Commission, I also intend to conduct a light stocktaking exercise in approximately one year, with a view to Sierra Leone's exit from the Commission's agenda if appropriate at that time,” he concluded.

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Tags: civil war, diamonds, Jeff Miller, mining, mission, peacekeeping, prosperity, Sierra Leone, un
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