UN Peacebuilding Commission on maiden mission abroad in Sierra Leone

22 March 2007A delegation from the newly established United Nations Peacebuilding Commission is half way through its first-ever mission, a five-day visit to Sierra Leone, as part of reinforced efforts by the world body to prevent countries emerging from civil war and other conflicts from slipping back into bloodshed. The 12-member delegation, which winds up its visit on 25 March, has already held intensive talks with President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and other senior officials of the small West African country, which after 11 years of civil war has now entered a peace consolidation phase.“We came here to look on the ground for first-hand information on issues that the Commission is meant to deal with and to identify challenges to the peacebuilding process,” said Ambassador Frank Majoor, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the UN, who headed the delegation in his capacity as chair of the Commission’s Country Specific Meetings on Sierra Leone. After earlier discussions in the Commission, the Government and the UN mission in Sierra Leone jointly conducted an analysis of critical gaps in peacebuilding efforts and drew up a national priority plan that has been endorsed by the stakeholders and includes youth employment and empowerment, democracy and good governance, justice and security as well as public service delivery.Mr. Majoor said the working visit helped the delegation to determine specific priorities and gaps within these wider priority areas for the Commission to solicit extended support from donor countries.He emphasized that the Commission is now closer to an integrated framework – a compact between the Government, donors, the UN, the private sector and civil society – to sustain the national and international commitment to support peacebuilding and stability in Sierra Leone over the years to come.He and other delegation members described the consolidated approach on various tracks to peacebuilding and development, thus maintaining the continuity of already existing mechanisms such as the Poverty Reduction Strategy Project and the Peace Consolidation Strategy.Earlier this month, Sierra Leone received $35 million from the UN Peacebuilding Fund, established from voluntary contributions to aid countries which have recently emerged from war from slipping back into conflict, with Sierra Leone and another formerly war-torn African country, Burundi, the first nations to be referred to it.Although the two countries have made much progress in emerging from their devastating civil conflicts, they continue to face great political and economic challenges, the Commission said then. read more