Sierra Leone Statement at the UN Security Council open debate on Maintenance Of International Peace And Security: Strengthening The Role Of African States In Addressing Global Security And Development Challenges


Mr. President,

I thank you for convening this very timely open debate on the significant topic – “Strengthening the role of African states in addressing global security and development challenges” under the “Maintenance of international peace and security agenda”, even as we will celebrate Africa day, in just two days, on May 25th.

Let me at the outset, congratulate Mozambique for the successful negotiation and adoption of the Presidential Statement (PRST) on this meeting – “Maintenance of international peace and security: Strengthening the role of the African state”.  

I thank the His Excellency Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, His Excellency Mr. Bankole Adeoye, African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security; and His Excellency Mr. Sérgio França Danese, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations, in his capacity as Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, for their invaluable insights on today’s topic, and take due note of their recommendations on strengthening the effective participation of Africa in maintaining global peace and security.  

Sierra Leone also extends congratulations to the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) on its 20th anniversary. In acknowledging the pivotal efforts of AUPSC in strengthening peace and security in the African continent, we take great pride in our present concurrent membership and contributions in the AUPSC and the UN Security Council.              

Mr. President, 

States in Africa remain challenged with a wide range of security, political, socio-economic, and environmental issues, including, long-standing and emerging localized and cross-border conflicts, deteriorating state of governance, decline in State authority, economic decline, as well as the adverse impact of climate change. 

The data on the impact of conflict on the continent paint an alarming picture – the Secretary-General’s latest report on the protection of civilians indicates that approximately 21,000 persons were killed in conflicts in just four countries (Mali, Nigeria, Sudan, and South Sudan) with hundreds of thousands more injured across the continent.                               

Millions of people remain either internally or externally displaced, with 6 million new internally displaced persons in Sudan and 1.4 million fleeing to neighboring countries, resulting in a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented scale and scope. The Sahel region has become an epicenter of terrorism, a very worrying development for the Sahel and West Africa.  

According to the World Bank, the continent remains the least economically competitive region in the world, and States finds it difficult to create and maintain the economic conditions necessary for poverty reduction and macroeconomic stability, including accessing private sector investment and trade. Approximately one-third of the continent’s population is characterized as living in extreme poverty below the US$2, 15 cents a day threshold. 

Africa’s capacity therefore must be strengthened to address its myriad of challenges, including through enabling effective representation in global governance decision-making, particularly with regards to the mutually reinforcing principles of peace and security and sustainable development.                       

Addressing the multidimensional challenges facing the continent requires an integrated approach, through which strategic policy and logistical support are rationalized in line with the continent’s policy aspiration of ‘African solutions for African challenges’.  This is both about ownership and leadership. African States and the wider international community must commit to targeted political and economic initiatives at national levels, as well as measures to resolve the systemic and historical injustices, inequalities, and divergences that continue to impact the continent’s full political and socioeconomic capacity.  

The African Union Agenda 2063, which seeks to address the confluence of historical, political, and economic factors for sustainable socioeconomic development on the continent, remains the most viable mechanism to ensure ownership and participation of African states in their own development. We note concerted efforts of the United Nations system to support the objectives of Agenda 2063 and call on the wider international community, particularly the international financial, development and trade institutions to employ flexible and relevant financing and investment mechanisms that support sustainable socio-economic development for sustaining peace in Africa,  

We note that while Africa’s contribution to the adverse effects of Climate Change is wholly insignificant, it continues to bear the brunt of climate related disasters such desertification and flooding. Additionally, it receives the least amount of global financing to address this existential planetary crisis. The urgent need for increased financial commitments to address the climate crisis in Africa cannot therefore be overemphasized.

Mr. President,

Through the Silencing the Guns Initiative, the African Union has set a bold plan for a conflict-free Africa, focused on solidifying developmental gains, by 2030. Achievement of this initiative requires continued support from the Security Council, as reflected in its resolution 2457 (2019), especially given the rapid spread of terrorism and violent extremism, regrettable resurgence in unconstitutional changes of governments, and rise in resource-linked instability and conflicts in the region.   

The spread of terrorism, particularly in the Sahel region and parts of West Africa, requires collaboration and partnership both at the regional level among African countries, as well as at the global levels. The recent fragmentation of the G-5 Sahel presents a significant gap in the institutional framework for security and counter-terrorism strategies in the region, that we must continue to address through dialogue and collaboration. 

In this regard we welcome the successful conclusion of the negotiations of the PRST on UNOWAS (West Africa and the Sahel) which will strengthen the mandate of the UNOWAS Office to meaningfully engage and partner with member States in the region and ECOWAS in addressing the security, humanitarian, socioeconomic and political challenges in the region. Sierra Leone remains grateful to Switzerland for the partnership as co-pens and the Security Council for the demonstration of unity on this issue.

 Sierra Leone emphasizes the importance of strengthening Africa’s role in addressing security challenges on the continent through the effective operationalization of Council resolution 2719 (2023) on financing of AU-led peace operations.  We welcome Council’s joint collaboration with the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) and the African Union Commission to expedite work on the ‘joint planning guidelines’ for implementation of this resolution, and also take this opportunity to encourage Council members to consider further exploring designated sources for raising the remaining 25% of funding from international donors other than the African Union, in due consideration of African countries’ ultimate sacrifice in providing the troops for potential AU-led Peace Support Operations, and UN assessed contributions. In the same vain, we call for implementation of GA Resolution 78/257 which provides us a road map for strengthening the role of the Peacebuilding Commission through sustainable, predictable and flexible financing for peace prevention and peacebuilding.

Mr. President, 

The spate of unconstitutional change of governments is troubling evidence of push back against the established governance and policy frameworks on the continent. Unconstitutional changes of government are antithetical to fundamental principles enshrined in the Constitutive Act of the African Union, as well as the targeted African normative framework on the issue, including the Lomé Declaration on Unconstitutional Changes of Government (OHCHR 2000), the 2007 African Charter of Democracy, Elections and Governance (AU 2007), and the 2022 Malabo Declaration on Terrorism and Unconstitutional Changes of Government in Africa.    

We call on the Security Council to support the AU’s efforts in  addressing the underlying drivers of unconstitutional changes of governments, as well as to “undertake realistic and practical preventive and response measures to address governance deficits, and the manipulation of democratic processes, including tampering with electoral laws, constitutional provisions, and term limits”, (a  call made by His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana, during the recent African Union Reflection Forum II on Unconstitutional Changes of Government held in March 2024 in Accra).   

Mr. President, 

Our efforts in strengthening Africa’s role in addressing global security challenges would be meaningless, unless purposeful and practical steps are taken by the United Nations to reform the Security Council, to address its structural imbalance and the Africa historical injustice. The enlargement of the Security Council to redress the historical injustice against Africa as a priority and, while treating the continent as a special case cannot be overemphasized.  UN Security Council reform is necessary and imperative, given the imbalance in the composition of the Council – leading to the lack of representation in global decision-making, further impacting on the Council’s legitimacy. 

The well-formed view that “absent structural changes, the Council’s performance and legitimacy will inevitably suffer” has gained roots. Accordingly, “representational legitimacy is a necessary condition for good institutional performance—particularly when the objects of an institution’s decisions have little say in the decision-making process itself”. The United Nations must adapt to present geopolitical realities and emerging threats, in particular, by addressing Africa’s non-representation in the permanent category and its gross under-representation in the non-permanent category of the Security Council. We therefore welcome efforts by member States in broad support of the aspiration of Africa and the Common African Position on Security Council reform as espouse in the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration.

 In closing, Mr. President, Sierra Leone welcome the African Union’s membership in the G20 as a permanent member, a move that affords the continent the opportunity to shape policies and decisions with direct impact on its own financial and economic development and that of the world. The step must herald an era of strengthening African States in addressing, inter alia, global security and development challenges.

I thank you. 

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