Sierra Leone Statement At The Tenth Emergency Special Session (Resumed) Of The United Nations General Assembly


Mr. President, 

When Sierra Leone explained its position on the vote on the draft resolution in the Security Council on April 18, which would have recommended the granting of full membership status for the State of Palestine at the United Nations, we paraphrased Martin Luther King Jnr. and stated that – the State of Palestine’s membership may have been delayed, as often in episodes of injustice, but as “the arc of the moral universe may be long, but bends towards justice, Palestine’s UN membership cannot be denied.

Today’s convening of the General Assembly lends credence to the bending of the arc of the moral universe towards justice. We therefore thank you, Mr. President, for convening “the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly” at the request of the Chairs of the Arab Group, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) pursuant to resolution ES-10/22 (of 12th December 2023).

Today’s debate is being held in the context of the ongoing hostilities in the Gaza Strip and the failure of the Security Council to recommend the Admission of the State of Palestine as a Member of the United Nations, owing to the non-concurring vote of one permanent member of the Council. The 12 members of the Security Council that voted in favour of the draft resolution represented about 7.6 billion of the world’s population. 

At this globally representative Assembly, we take the opportunity to restate our position that we consider the State of Palestine’s request for membership as legitimate and believe it could create a pathway to a political horizon, founded on the principles of the “two-state solution” based on the UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions adopted on the ‘Question of Palestine’, beginning with resolution 181 (ii) which recommends an independent Jewish State and an independent Arab State, and in line with Article 4 (1) of the United Nations Charter. 

The recognition of the State of Palestine by 139 Member States over the years also speaks to that legitimacy. We restate that our support for the application for UN membership is in line with the requirements of article 4 of the UN Charter, the applicable rules of the Provisional Rules of Procedure of the Security Council, and the guidance provided by the International Court of Justice in its 28th May 1948 advisory opinion on Conditions of Admission of a State to Membership in the United Nations (Article 4 of the Charter).

As we also address this question in the context of the ongoing occupation of the State of Palestine, we are also of the view that, at this stage of hostilities in the Gaza Strip, and engagement to resolve the three quarters of a century conflict and struggle for self-determination, it is important that the State of Palestine is able to engage on an equal level with its neighbour, the State of Israel, honouring the UN Charter principle of sovereign equality of States. 

Mr. President, 

In recognizing the provisions of article 4 (2) of the UN Charter, and the failure of the Security Council to recommend the admission of the State of Palestine as a full-fledged Member of the United Nations, we welcome the adopted resolution, outlining additional rights and privileges of participation of the State of Palestine commencing during the 79th session of the General Assembly, without prejudice to its existing rights and privileges. Sierra Leone co-sponsored and accordingly voted in favour of the adopted resolution.

We wish to particularly highlight Operative Paragraph 2 of the resolution that “recommends that the Security Council reconsider the matter favorably….”. In our view, this will be in line with Article 10 of the UN Charter, which states that, “the General Assembly may discuss any questions or any matters within the scope of the present Charter… and may make recommendations to Members of the United Nations or the Security Council”.  It is also in keeping with previous practice of the General Assembly.

Mr. President, 

In addition to what we have accomplished here today through the provisions of the adopted resolution, more concerted efforts need to be made to achieve sustainable and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine, to address the plight of the Palestinian people, ensure security and stability for citizens of Israel and Palestine, end the occupation, and institute governance reforms that will strengthen the Palestine Authority’s effectiveness and control over the Palestinian territory.  

On the ongoing hostilities in the Gaza Strip and other parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Sierra Leone should like to emphasize the following:  

Firstly, we are deeply concerned about reports of the commencement of a military operation in Rafah, which is no longer a threat, but a reality backed by evacuation orders, closure of border crossings and intensified bombing. We join the UN Secretary-General in noting the human cataphoric consequences of any military operation in Rafah and calling on the parties to come to an agreement.

Secondly, we continue to express our strong support of ongoing diplomatic efforts, and were encouraged by the positive sign of progress in the recent days for a negotiated deal that could lead to a ceasefire and exchange of hostages and prisoners. We urge the parties to the conflict to use this opportunity, engage in good faith to immediately halt the humanitarian catastrophe and for an agreement for a permanent ceasefire.

Thirdly, we are appalled by the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. Already the World Food Programme has indicated that unless there is an immediate unfettered flow of humanitarian aid into the entire Gaza Strip, there will be full-blown famine in the north of Gaza, with a spillover risk in the south. We therefore condemn attacks on UNWRA, including the reported arson attack on its East Jerusalem headquarters.  

Fourth and finally, we reiterate the call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, and for resolutions of the Security Council (particularly 2712, 2720 & 2728) and those of the General Assembly to be fully respected by the parties and implemented, as well as the provisional measures ordered by the International Court of Justice. 

I thank you.

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