President Koroma urges UN to move with the times

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.

INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT BY THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PEACE AND SECURITY COUNCIL OF THE AFRICAN UNION FOR THE MONTH OF JANUARY 2017, H.E. PRESIDENT DR. ERNEST BAI KOROMA ON THE ACTIVITIES OF THE PEACE AND SECURITY COUNCIL AND THE STATE OF PEACE AND SECURITY

IN AFRICA INCLUDING THE MASTER ROADMAP COMPRISING PRACTICAL STEPS TO SILENCE THE GUNS IN AFRICA BY THE YEAR 2020. PRESENTED ON THE OCCASION OF THE 28TH ORDINARY SESSION OF THE AU ASSEMBLY, ON 30 JANUARY 2017, IN ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA.

The Chairperson of the Union: My Brother President Alpha Conde

Excellences, colleague Heads of States and Government;

The Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission,

Honorable Ministers

Commissioners

Invited Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen

Please accept my warmest greetings and best wishes for 2017!

I would first of all like to take to pay tribute to our men and women who have and continue to pay the ultimate price for the maintenance of peace and security on the continent.

Three years from now, in 2020, guns should be silent in Africa; this is the commitment we have undertaken on behalf of our people who continue to endure violence and abuse; who are being internally displaced or forced to flee their homelands; and it is the pledge we have made to create the enabling environment for our economies to thrive. This will remain the cornerstone in fulfilling our aspirations not to bequeath conflict to the next generation.

Since our last Assembly Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, we identified, outlined and dealt with various crisis situations on the continent in fulfillment of our mandate. In this regard, the Peace and Security Council remained seized of the situations in Burundi, the Central Africa Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Libya, Mali/Sahel, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan. All our efforts to maintain peace and security in these situations have been consistent with the determination we expressed in the OAU/AU 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration that we adopted on 25th May 2013, in Addis Ababa.

Excellences,

Following the adoption of the Solemn Declaration, we have led several initiatives to provide practical guidance in actualizing our commitment to the grand Agenda 2020. These include devoting the 430th Meeting of the PSC as an Open Session on the theme: “Silencing the Guns: Pre-requisites for Realizing a Conflict-Free Africa by the Year 2020”. This Meeting underscored the importance of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and called for its full implementation, particularly the African Standby Force and its Rapid Deployment Capability.

Mindful of the time exigency relating to Agenda 2020, the PSC determined that urgent action is needed if we are to achieve this ambitious but principled and attainable goal that we have set for ourselves. It is within this context that the PSC convened the Retreat on the theme: Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by Year 2020, from 7 to 9 November 2016, in Lusaka, Zambia.

The Retreat identified fourteen major scourges that continue to affect our continent; most notably:

• The persistence of terrorist activities;

• The illicit inflow, proliferation and circulation of arms and weapons;

• The illicit financial flows that continue to weaken our economies; and

• Our lack of decisive strategic dialogue with the international community, including the UN system, on global policies and practices negatively impacting on Africa and its people.

These major scourges have now been put into a Draft AU Master Roadmap comprising Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by Year 2020 – and referred to as the Lusaka 2016 Master Roadmap.

This Master Roadmap is premised on the principle that Africa should assume total responsibility and full ownership and control over its peace and security agenda. Additionally, it is realistic and places greater emphasis on implementation, monitoring and evaluation of our collective efforts towards to the attainment of the objective of silencing the Guns by 2020. The Master Roadmap is being submitted to this Assembly for endorsement for the immediate commencement of its implementation. The details will be elaborated by the Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui.

While we remain mindful of the ambitious but attainable goals outlined in the OAU/AU 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration, the PSC is certain that, with the collective will, determination and selfless efforts of all AU Member States, we shall succeed in silencing the guns in Africa by the year 2020. I therefore call on all of us, brothers and sisters, to invoke the African spirit of solidarity, which guided our actions during the anti-colonial struggle, to marshal the necessary political will and material resources to actualize our dream of a conflict free and prosperous Africa by 2020.

I would like on behalf of the Peace and Security Council and the entire Union to express our profound condolence to the Government and People of the Republic of Kenya over the recent attacks on their forces serving in AMISOM. I wish a speedy recovery for those injured during the attack.

May I now take this opportunity to present to you the Lusaka 2016 Master Roadmap, and the draft decisions for consideration and adoption.

I thank you for your kind attention.