Representing the UN Resident Coordinator at today’s programme marking the International Day of Peace in Freetown, UNFPA Country Representative Nadia Rasheed highlighted the UN Country Team’s (UNCT) commitment to supporting efforts to promote peace and inclusion in Sierra Leone.
In her statement at the International Day of Peace Symposium organised by the Independent Commission on Peace and National Cohesion (ICPNC) at the Bintumani Conference Hall earlier today, she said the day “signifies a core value for the founding of the United Nations and reflects our shared aspirations for building peaceful and inclusive societies that are free of all forms of discrimination.”
The Resident Coordinator ad interim congratulated the Government of Sierra Leone for ratifying the ICPNCSL Act 2020 that established the Commission, describing this as “an important step in reaffirming commitments and further advancing a positive drive towards the actualisation of a peaceful and united Sierra Leone.
Recognising the critical role that next year’s multi-tier elections can play in advancing peace and national cohesion in the country, Ms Rasheed informed the gathering of the existence of the national Elections Steering Committee with the Resident Coordinator representing the UNCT in that Committee.
Furthermore, she said that UNDP and UNICEF signed an MOU with the Ministry of Political and Public Affairs to create an enabling environment for the conduct of peaceful elections and for strengthening social cohesion. “UNDP has also supported the National Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone on their regional briefings for Ward Electoral Committee Members.”
Additionally, she said UN Women supported the review of the implementation of UN Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and is assisting in the development of its third National Action Plan.
According to the RC ai, there is also a further commitment on the part of the UN to continue to provide technical and other advisory support to this process.
Ms Rasheed hoped that through collaboration and support from other development partners and stakeholders, the opportunity the elections present to build on the gains Sierra Leone has made towards peace and national cohesion will be seized by all actors.
Speaking earlier at the event, Ambassador of the European Union to Sierra Leone, Mr Manuel Muller, said that peace needs all our engagement, “especially if there is something to heal, inclusiveness is of the highest importance.
The Irish Ambassador, Claire Buckley, said that by treating each other equally regardless of political, ethnic, social and economic status, “we build a better world for our children”. She welcomed the decision by the organisers to give the global theme a domestic focus “End Tribalism, Build Peace and National Cohesion”.
Political and Public Affairs Minister Ambassador Foday Yumkella, who represented the Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, stressed that the country has a common ground when it comes to tribalism. He said where there is no peace, there is no development and emphasised that efforts should be made to ensure peace in the country. He concluded, that “we want to leave a better Sierra Leone behind”.
A short skit from students and a peace song by local musicians formed some of the high points of today’s programme, including the symposium held afterwards.