MR. ALAN E. GEORGE, Minister Counsellor and Political Coordinator of the Sierra Leone at the United Nations Security Council

Sierra Leone Statement at the UN Security on Arria Formula Meeting on “Condemning Hostage- Taking in Israel on October 7th as a Psychological Tool of Terrorism.”

STATEMENT  BY MR. ALAN E. GEORGE, Minister Counsellor and Political Coordinator 

Mr. Chair,

Sierra Leone expresses its appreciation to you and the co-organizers for convening this meeting. I wish to also thank Prof. Halperin-Kaddari, Ayelet Samerano and Gili Roman for their briefings today. 

[I also thank Dr. Shoshan Haran for her compelling contribution in this meeting].

Notwithstanding the context of the ongoing occupation, Sierra Leone has without equivocation condemned the 7thOctober 2023 attack by Hamas and other armed groups on Israeli civilians and the taking of hostages. 

Hostage taking is against international law and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms.

Sierra Leone is deeply concerned that a permanent ceasefire has not been agreed in Gaza despite the efforts of the United Nations, including the Security Council and months of mediation efforts. Along with the rest of the international community, we were hopeful and encouraged by the positive news coming from Cairo in recent days for a negotiated ceasefire and hostages and prisoners exchange deal.

We are of the strong view that the pause in negotiation is a setback given the signs of reaching a deal. We continue our call for the unconditional release of hostages and prisoners, including the bodies of those that have been killed for dignified burial by their families and loved ones. We urge both parties to commit to overcoming existing gaps in the negotiation process.

In this context, we would like to make two observations.

Firstly, compliance with international law and international humanitarian law is a fundamental imperative. Sierra Leone calls on all parties to uphold their obligations under international law, and we condemn violations international law in their entirety. Even war has rules and those rules in situations of conflict and occupation must be respected and applied consistently.

For the families of hostages and prisoners, it is not only a matter of daily sustenance for their loved ones, but also a matter of justice when the fog of war clears. The Security Council must remain united and ardent in its condemnation of hostage taking and call for accountability.

Secondly, the legal imperative is that hostage taken is contrary to international law and the release of hostages cannot be subjected to conditions. In the current context, we have joined the call for negotiations that will lead to the release of hostages and prisoners, but this does not absolve the parties of their legal obligations. The previous diplomatic efforts that led to the pause in the fighting and the release of some hostages in November 2023 is a testament to the continuing role of diplomacy. 

Fighting has been going on for almost seven months, and all the hostages are still not home. This is unacceptable and the hostilities must end. We further recognized the significance to also secure the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Let me conclude, Mr. Chair, by reechoing the need for the urgent release of hostages and prisoners, using the tools available to us, including diplomacy. We must also allow the sun of peace to rise. This can only happen if there is an immediate cessation of hostilities and a permanent and lasting ceasefire.

I Thank you. 

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