President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma delivered a rousing speech at the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday September 22, 2016, calling on the international governing body to move with the times and speed up the reform of the UN Security Council.
As chairman of the African Union Committee of Ten Heads of State and Government on the Reform of the United Nations Security Council, the president stressed that no matter what they as leaders do at the national or global level, the world “will not be able to deliver on the SDGs’ promise of an inclusive, fairer and better world without the reform of the United Nations.”
The president spoke about some of his administration’s biggest achievements, including access to justice, women and youth employment and empowerment. He also thanked the outgone UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for Sierra Leone’s successful fight against the Ebola epidemic; a fight won with the help of the UN and bilateral partners.
President Koroma also talked about the significance of the Paris climate agreement, which he signed soon after addressing the General Assembly. He pointed out that although Sierra Leone contributes almost nothing to global warming, it is the third most vulnerable country to the effects of climate change. He therefore delineates climate change as an urgent life and death matter. “That is why we welcome the Paris Agreement,” he said, and told world leaders about his government’s commitment to implement its provisions in Sierra Leone. “My Government, in collaboration with our development partners, is implementing projects on adaptation, including climate information and early warning systems. We remain committed to these efforts and we seek further collaboration in confronting this global threat against humanity,” he assured.
The speech was also a stark warning to the UN of the grim international consequences should the premier governing body continue to hold on the edicts and structures established 71 years ago, calling on the UN to move with the times by carrying out the relevant reforms. Straight from the shoulder, President Koroma told world leaders that the UN lacks the democratic competencies to tackle the developmental, security and other challenges facing Africa and many other parts of the world today. “Without strong African voices at the highest level of our 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 to our challenges by the United Nations would be sustained, inclusive or lasting,” the chairman of the C-10 declared amid rapturous applause by the audience.
As the voice of Africa under the aegis of the C-10, the Sierra Leonean leader told the UN that Africa stands united behind the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration and urged against any attempt to take down their position through divide and rule reminiscent of colonialism.
President Koroma also told the assembled representatives of the UN’s member states that Sierra Leone is now ready to deploy its newly Formed Police Units (FUPs), Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) units as well as Police Guards to the UN Standby Arrangement System (UNSAS) at short notice in fulfillment of the country’s pledge made to the Leader’s Summit on Peacekeeping in September, 2015.
The president reiterated his government’s commitment to good governance; address the underlying causes of fragility and drivers of conflict, effective management of the country’s natural resources in a bid to transform Sierra Leone into a middle-income nation by 2035. He also reminded the international community, including its bilateral friends to fulfill their pledges to the country’s recovery programme. President Koroma further expressed the urgent need for all parties to cooperate with global initiatives in finding enduring peace in Syria, South Sudan and Libya, and called for action in resolving the Israel Palestine conflict, in fighting terrorism, and what he described as “dangerous escalations in the arms race”.
Certainly, many of the arguments by the president were aimed at the UN which has failed to adopt measures, including text based negotiations that will lead to a comprehensive and early reform of the Security Council to reflect contemporary realities. He urged the assembled leaders to speed up the reform process so that Africa can take its rightful place in the UN Security Council.
After the speech, President Koroma had bilateral meetings with the President of the General Assembly Peter Thomson, the outgone UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and attended a reception ceremony hosted by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He also took interviews with the CCTV and BBC in between his bilateral meetings.