His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koromathe at the 71st UN General Assembly in New York

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Foreign Affairs
His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koromathe at the 71st UN General Assembly in New York

His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma on behalf of the Government and people of Sierra Leone has applauded and commended His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-Moon for his dedication and commitment to the advancement of global peace and development during his ten years of service to the United Nations and for hid vision and activities including the major high-level panel reviews, the historic adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, the signing of the Paris Agreement and the convening of the first World Humanitarian Summit while delivering his statement at the seventy first United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Commending the vision and activities of the outgoing United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Banki-Moon, President Koroma said Sierra Leone, will always remember the Secretary General with deep appreciation for the exemplary role in mobilizing support for the country’s successful fight against the deadly Ebola disease. Deliberating on the theme of the summit, ” The Sustainable Development Goals: a universal push to transform our world”, and congratulating the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Mogens  Lykketoft of Denmark, the President observed that, Mr. Lykketoft could not have been more thoughtful with the theme for their debate this year. He pointed out that to transform the world, they must as Heads of State and Government ,universally push forward “The Sustainable Goals” adding that to save millions of women and children still trapped in poverty, to bring peace to troubled regions to prevent and to contain disease outbreaks, they must push forward with energy, with passion and resolve.

President Koroma disclosed that in Sierra Leone, drawing from the lessons learnt from the implementations of the MDGs, they have as a government taken action to quickly integrate the SDGs into the national development planning process by linking each of the seventy goals and one hundred and sixty nine targets to their national development programme- the Agenda for Prosperity. The President maintained that Sierra Leone was one of the twenty one countries that were reviewed during the ECOSOC High-Level Political Forum in July this year. He further revealed that as a government and country, they shared their perspective on how they want to implement the SDGs,the challenges they envisaged and how they hope to overcome them. President Koroma went on that at the same time, as a government, they have formulated a National Integrated Results Framework aligning the SDGs to the government’s Agenda for Prosperity monitoring and evaluation mechanism. The President added that the government has also established the Sierra Leone International Benchmarks System to address the challenges relating to reliable statistical data required to report on progress.

He made it clear to the President of the United Nations General Assembly that whatever they do as Heads of State and Government at the national level, at the global level and whatever projects the brightest amongst them designed, they will not be able to deliver the on the SDGs promise of an inclusive, fairer and better world without the reform of the United Nations. Putting it straight, President Koroma said, their premier global institution lacks the democratic competencies to tackle the developmental, security and other challenges facing Africa and many other parts of the world. He added that without strong African voices at the highest level of their premier global decision making body, without the energetic voices of the region with the largest number of young people, without the decisive contribution of the continent that is mostly affected by Security Council decisions, no solution proffered by the United Nations Security Council, to their challenges would be sustainable, inclusive or lasting.

President Koroma admitted that indeed Africa’s position is about righting historic wrongs, enhancing African voices at the United Nations, but more than everything, Africa’s position is their contribution to making the United Nations more effective, more democratic and more forward-looking. The President Pointed out that it is the reason why as African Heads of State and Government, they believe that diluting any of the key elements of their position is akin to the continuation of a status quo that is unfair, unjust, non-inclusive and unfit for the better purposes of the twenty first century. In that regard, he intimated the Assembly that Africa has asked him, as Coordinator of its Committee of Ten on the Reform of the United Nations, to tell the world that they will as African Heads of State and Government, stand united behind the Ezuluwini  Consensus and the Sirte Declaration. The President disclosed that as Heads of State and Government, they have reaffirmed the African position at the African Union Summit in Kigali, in July this year and that they deeply frown at attempts to take down their common position through divide and rule policies reminiscent of the colonial era.

Recalling the Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping in September last year, he noted that as African leaders, they committed themselves to enlarging and modernizing UN peacekeeping operations. President Koroma maintained that also at the summit, he made a pledge to contribute to the United Nations peacekeeping with commitments to provide two Formed Police Guards Units, Special Weapon and Tactics Units, and Police Guards to the UN Standby Arrangement System and they are now ready to deploy at short notice. The President intimated the Assembly that Sierra Leone welcomes the report of the Secretary-General and his Agenda for Humanity as the World Humanitarian Summit held this year, was a turning point, where they collectively as Heads of State and Government, pledged to improve their response to people caught up in natural disasters and conflicts to empower them as agents of their recovery and to summon greater political I’ll to prevent and end the wars that are causing so much suffering. He added that millions of people need humanitarian help and millions more have been forcibly displaced from their homes as such they must set the right tone to address the lingering challenges facing the world.

President Koroma informed the General Assembly that his delegation endorses the adoption of the Political Declaration on the “Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants” and fully subscribes to the call to address the root causes, including efforts aimed at early prevention of crisis situations.  Further deliberating on  Sierra Leone, the President said, Sierra Leone also welcomes the unanimous adoption in April this year of the Security Council resolution 2282 and the General Assembly resolution 70/262 as the parallel resolutions demonstrate their commitment towards a comprehensive approach to transitional justice and an accountable security sector, which are critical to consolidating peace, reducing poverty and preventing countries from relapsing into conflict. He maintained that in Sierra Leone, their commitment as a government and nation, to continue addressing key underlying causes of fragility and drivers of conflict is underlined by their participation as a pilot country to the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States.  President Koroma noted that being the current chair of the g7+Group of Fragile States, Sierra Leone pays great attention to incorporating SDG 16 and that they also recognize that the effective management of the country’s natural resources is central to ensuring sustainable socio-economic development and a resilient future of Sierra Leoneans.

The President assured the Assembly that his government remains committed to good governance, and it will continue to build upon the post-conflict peace building and democratic gains by further strengthening the country’s democratic institutions, by strengthening access to justice. This he said is the reason why, as a government, they have taken steps to improve on the conditions of service in the country’s justice sector,to attract and deploy more qualified personnel to the bench and as state counsels in every region and district throughout Sierra Leone. Further highlighting actions already taken by the government, in improving good governance in Sierra Leone, President Koroma said, government has established the Legal Aid Board to ensure that indignant persons have legal representation, that there is no one in the correctional centers without an indictment, that cases are speedily heard and justice is fairly served. Those strides, he emphasized are significant in government’s journey to attaining a resilient and inclusive Sierra Leone and that they remain the bedrock of government’s aspiration to becoming a middle-income country by 2035.

President Koroma added that also because as a government, they warned to achieve good governance in the country, they have hastened to put in place major relevant policy decisions and enacted appropriate legislations to empower women, improve the situation of youth and ensure that the physically challenged are not marginalized. The President went on that his government’s vision for the empowerment of women as enshrined in Pillar 8 of the Agenda for Prosperity is consistent with global aspirations, in recognition of the crucial importance of women and gender parity in the development and employment. He observed that efforts in addressing youth employment and unemployment remain at the heart of government’s Agenda for Prosperity. President Koroma further disclosed that  his government has also made a record number of appointments of youths and women into top-level decision-making positions, including ministerial, ambassadorial and leadership posts in Government Departments and Agencies and in the Military, Police, Parliament, Judiciary and Local Government Administration.

Deliberating on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the President said the outbreak had put a spotlight on the critical need for the world to have a more robust and effective global health architecture with strong and accountable leadership to deal with health cries, including pandemics. In that context, he pointed out that, his delegation commends the High-Level Panel Review on the Global Response to Health Crisis for its comprehensive report as they strongly consider its twenty seven recommendations as the way forward for appropriate action at national, regional, and international levels. President Koroma urged that they collectively commit themselves to the full implementation of the Panel’s recommendations in order to protect humanity from the scourges of future health crisis. The President expressed Sierra Leone’s appreciation on behalf of the Government and people of Sierra Leone to the International Community for supporting the government and the nation to defeat the Ebola virus while revealing that as a government, they are now implementing the Post Ebola Recovery Programme. Applauding the support they have received in fighting Ebola, he pointed out that as a government and country, they are still faced with enormous resource gaps and would therefore like to remind their bilateral friends and international community to fulfill their pledges to the recovery programme.

President Koroma reiterated that though as a country, they contribute nothing to global warming, Sierra Leone is the third most vulnerable country to the effects of climate change. He added that dealing with climate change is therefore an urgent life and death matter for them as a government which is the reason why they welcome the Paris Agreement. The President maintained that as a government, they will implement the provisions of the Paris Agreement in Sierra Leone and that his government, in collaboration with their development partners, is implementing projects on adaptation, including climate information and early warning systems. He made it clear that the government remains committed by o those efforts and they seek further collaboration in confronting the global threat against humanity. President Koroma affirmed that as government moves into the implementation of the first phase of the SDGs, they must remember that fragile states were unable to make remarkable progress in the implementation of the MDGs largely owing to the absence of peace, justice  and effective state institutions.

In that regard, he said it is therefore urgent for all parties to cooperate with global initiatives in finding enduring peace in Syria, South Sudan and Libya which is the reason why the world must accelerate its efforts in resolving the Israeli Palestine conflict, in fighting terrorism, and in stemming the dangerous escalations in the arms race. The President pointed out that as worldwide nations, they could not sustain the world with bombs and the unending threat of war and they could not achieve a universal push to development when armed conflicts continue to drive millions into refugee camps, when millions find themselves trapped between warring factions. President Koroma added that the United Nations could not champion the course of justice and legitimacy when Africa remains excluded and underrepresented in the highest decision making organs of their global organization noting that the reforms must start here and they must be deliberate and enduring. The President also made it clear that while as African Heads of State and Government, they acknowledged the gradual progress made so far, particularly in the transparent process of selecting and appointing the next Secretary-General, he again reiterated that member states of Africa are unhappy about the slow pace of the Security Council reform.

Stressing the need for the African Representation in the United Nations Security Council, he again re-echoed Africa’s strong concern over the continuous failure of the United Nations to adopt measures, including text based negotiations that will lead to a comprehensive and early reform of the Security Council to reflect contemporary realities. In that regard, the President therefore urged that the reform process move faster so that Africa could take its rightful place in the United Nations Security Council adding that redressing the much acknowledged historical injustice done to the continent will be a remarkable step in the Universal Push in transforming the world. President Koroma pointed out that they could not effectively deal with the evolving challenges of their time if they could continue to hold on the edicts and structures established seventy one years ago. He maintained that the equitable geographical representation, with the attendant’s privileges in the membership of the Council would only make it more legitimate, representative, effective, transparent and accountable.

Meanwhile President Ernest Bai Koroma has met with the UNOPS Executive Director Miss Grete Faremo at his Mariotta Hotel Presidential Suite at Lexington Avenue, in New York where they discussed the renewal energy programme of forty million United State Dollars which will be implemented by UNOPS.

Also at his Presidential Suite at Marriott  Hotel, Lexington Avenue, New York, President Ernest Bai Koroma held a bilateral meeting with  the newly elected Secretary General of the Commonwealth the Right Honorable Patricia Scotland QC.

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