Press Releases

    14 November 2002


    NEW YORK, 13 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Consultative Group Meeting for Sierra Leone, delivered by Hédi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Paris, 13 November:

    I would like to thank the World Bank, the Government of Sierra Leone and all participants for the timely convening of this Consultative Group meeting. At this critical juncture, Sierra Leone needs the continued support of the international community to consolidate the peace and stability that have prevailed since the end of the long conflict and the holding of national elections earlier this year.

    The primary responsibility of the Government of Sierra Leone in this process cannot be over-emphasized. Unless it firmly extends its authority throughout its territory, restores control over the country’s national resources, and begins to assume responsibility for its own security, stability will remain vulnerable.

    The Security Council recently approved my proposal for a gradual downsizing of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) over a period of two years, until 2004. The Council’s decision gives Sierra Leone and its international partners a window of opportunity to tackle critical issues of post-conflict peace-building, and to lay the foundations for sustainable development, while the security umbrella provided by UNAMSIL is still present.

    The gradual drawdown of UNAMSIL will be carefully synchronized with efforts to build up the capacity of Sierra Leone’s security sector. Under the leadership of the United Kingdom, remarkable progress has been made in training and restructuring the army. The rehabilitation of the penal system and judiciary is continuing. Additional assistance is now needed so that the national police force has the training, infrastructure, vehicles and communications equipment it needs to take on primary responsibility for internal security as UNAMSIL departs.

    Another vital area is the reintegration of ex-combatants. Some 32,000 ex-combatants have been absorbed, but another 24,000 are awaiting reintegration opportunities. Despite generous contributions, the Multi-Donor Trust Fund for this process faces a shortfall of approximately $10 million. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which has a vital role to play in promoting national unity, also faces a major funding shortfall. I urge governments to respond to the appeal for additional resources made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

    The people of Sierra Leone and the international community have accomplished a great deal together in helping the country to recover from a long and devastating conflict. But the newly laid foundations for peace and development will remain fragile unless potential sources of renewed instability are addressed. The unstable situation in the subregion adds an additional sense of urgency to this effort. I have every confidence that you will stay engaged and do your part in carefully managing the transition to lasting peace. I wish you all success in these important deliberations.

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