Sierra Leone Statement at the UN Security Council on Promoting Conflict Prevention – Empowering All Actors Including Women And Youth

The delegation of Sierra Leone wishes to thank you for convening this open debate on the very important topic – “Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace: Promoting conflict prevention – Empowering all actors including women and youth”. 

I also want to thank the briefers Ms.RosemaryDiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, His  Excellency  Mr.  Sérgio  França  Danese, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations and Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, Mr.Abiodun Williams, Professor of the Practice of International Politics, Tufts University, and Ms.Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, Programme Manager of the Pacific Women Mediators Network and International Steering Group Gender Liaison of Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, for the insightful perspectives on this topic.

The topic for today is quite relevant and timely. We also commend the focus on women and youth, given their role and both forming the larger percentage of the global population. 

The twin General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on sustaining peace adopted in 2016, A/70/262 and 2282 offered an opportunity for the United Nations system to re-think how to prevent and address violent conflicts in a more holistic and inclusive way, focused on addressing the root causes and using a three-pillar approach. 

The resolutions provide a blueprint which suggests that, to prevent the occurrence and reoccurrence of conflict, the United Nations and all other regional, subregional, and national stakeholders of peace and security should move address the root causes of conflict. In essence there is need to invest in human development, economic opportunities, and social cohesion as pillars of sustainable peace.

A comprehensive approach to conflict prevention will thus involve strengthening governance architecture, provision of decent jobs, protection of human rights, addressing food insecurity, facilitating access to justice and equality, and a consultative participation in the political governance system. 

Traditional approaches to conflict prevention have often focused on military and security measures, such as peacekeeping and arms control. While these measures can play a role, they are often not enough to address the root causes of conflict. Comprehensive approaches take a complex interplay of factors, including poverty, inequality, discrimination especially against women and youth, environmental degradation, and weak governance. 

In the light of this, the Secretary General of the United Nations has provided a roadmap to prevent future conflicts and achieve global sustainable peace. He has noted that in order to protect and manage the global public good of peace, we need a peace continuum based on a better understanding of the drivers and systems of influence that are sustaining conflict, a renewed effort to agree on more effective collective security responses, and a meaningful set of steps to manage emerging risks with a view to preventing conflict. 

In his New Agenda for Peace the Secretary General calls for a number of specific actions: Firstly, to promote comprehensive approaches to conflict prevention, including strengthening the UN’s preventive capacities. This includes investing in early warning systems, mediation resources, and conflict resolution expertise. 

Secondly, promoting partnerships including working with governments, civil society organizations, and the private sector to address the root causes of conflict. And finally, focusing on prevention which includes shifting resources from conflict response to conflict prevention, and investing in initiatives that build resilience and address grievances before they escalate into violence. 

Mr. President, 

As we contemplate enhancing the UN’s conflict prevention architecture and engage in discussions to upcoming Pact of the Future, it is crucial to acknowledge inequalities alongside unaddressed grievances, and exclusion, especially of women and youth, as strategic risks to peace and security. 

In our approach to conflict prevention, we must also draw lessons from past experiences, recognizing instances where early warning signs and recommendations put forth by United Nations bodies, including the special procedures mandate, were not effectively implemented. These oversights underscore the imperative of heeding early warnings and implementing recommendations swiftly and effectively to prevent conflicts from escalating. 

This therefore begs the question is how do we empower and invest in people especially Women and Youth to promote conflict prevention? First, we must embrace inclusivity and diversity by ensuring meaningful and civil society in national and regional peace processes. In this regard, we must champion gender equality as a critical factor in preventing conflict and building lasting peace. Women as peace builders are essential in resolving conflict through effective engagement and mediation. 

As the Secretary-General reported last year, women are still under-represented not just in narrow peace talks among a small set of actors, but in broad-based national and regional dialogues where inclusion should be paramount and gender parity achievable. Let us commit to making sure that the initiatives of grassroots peacebuilders are recognized and supported, and that more formal and higher-level peacebuilding efforts, including national dialogues, start taking parity seriously. 

Second, member States should support national and local capacities for conflict resolution, governance, and sustainable development. In view of this we must respect the agency and leadership of local communities in shaping their own peacebuilding efforts with women and youth reprising leadership roles. In peacebuilding journey of Sierra Leone with the Peace Building Commission (“PBC”), the principle of national ownership was strictly adhered to with the initiatives proffered by the country being fully supported by efforts of the PBC. 

Third, efforts should be geared toward promoting dialogue, reconciliation, and cross-cultural understanding to heal divisions and build trust between communities and countries with women and youth in the forefront of discussions. Additionally, addressing grievances and injustices that fuel conflict through prioritized. 

Finally, we must integrate sustainable development into peace processes by recognizing the strong link between poverty, environmental degradation, and conflict. We should thus invest in initiatives that promote economic growth, resource management, and climate resilience for long-term stability. 

Mr. President, 

In Sierra Leone we are already implementing the New Agenda for Peace. We have adopted and are currently implementing the Wan Fambul (One Family) National Development Framework (NDF) for inclusive community-led planning and development. This framework came out of 13 years peacebuilding fieldwork during and after the conflict in Sierra Leone by Fambul Tok (Family Talk) a Sierra Peace. 

The NDF is not only a planning and development tool but also establishes social cohesion structures and gives women a strong voice in peacebuilding through the establishment of peace mothers support groups in communities. They are active in election campaigns, advocacy and education addressing conflict situations early before they become full blown conflagrations. The framework is a model for transformative partnerships between national governments, civil society and international donor partners. 

We have also established an Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion to promote peace and development in the country through dialogue, while paving the way for political cohesion and also mediation as very instrumental in facilitating the ongoing peaceful dialogue between the Government and the main opposition party to address issues emerging from our multi-tier elections in June 2023 elections, leading to the signing of the “Agreement for National Unity”, and its current implementation. 

In conclusion, Mr. President, preventing conflict takes a multilateral effort of the UN system, the international community, member States and civil society organizations. This collaborative effort should not only be about sustaining peace but also to address the drivers and root causes of conflict. In all of this, national ownership remains fundamental, and the meaningful participation by women and youth an imperative. 

I thank you. 

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