Mohamed Gibril Sesay: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 June 2023:
Sierra Leone is now in the United Nations Security Council. That seat is rotational, and being on it is quite an expensive undertaking. More staff in New York, more meetings, more traveling, more diplomatic engagements everywhere. And this is why it must not be wasted.
Sierra Leone did not take it up when the rotational principle points towards it in 2014 and 2015. In return for a number of other diplomatic and regional support, the country passed it on Nigeria. And promises were extracted that when the African rotational principle points at Sierra Leone again, it will have total support from all West Africa and Africa, and the full weight of the continent’s international engagement will be brought to bear to secure the country’s place in the Security Council.
Today, Sierra Leone is reaping the fruits of the rotational principle and diplomatic promises. But will those fruits benefit the country? Challenges abound.
The big issues for the security council and many major players are human rights, the environment, democracy, security and competent economic management in the face of international turmoil. How is Sierra Leone faring on these issues now? Human rights are being compromised, despite the official discourses of repeal of criminal libel laws and the death penalty.
We have witnessed the enactment of a most uncivil cyber security law, which looks like an upgrade of the criminal libel law and gagging orders for the internet age. The repeal of the death penalty has not stopped deaths at the hands of state agents- scores of citizens were killed at Pademba Road and on August 10, and at Tombo, Makeni, Tonko Limba and other places.
Democracy is running on a compromised electoral system. Electoral management bodies are pandering to whims of the powers that be putting in jeopardy the country’s election. And on the climate? The destruction has accelerated, the destruction of the country’s water bodies under the SLPP government is unprecedented as harmful unregulated physical and chemical properties dumped indiscriminately.
Many rivers are heavily polluted- plastics, unregulated mining activities, worsening waste management, and use of mercury in mining, (something banned at global level but used here freely) thereby polluted fishing grounds. There is also massive destruction of wetlands- swamps are being filled and built upon; their function as sponges of our heavy rainfall is severely underdeveloped. The results are glaring – drying up of the nation’s aquifers; and the increased flooding the nation is witnessing in Freetown, Bo , Makeni and other places.
Further, our ocean fronts and exclusive zones are being abused in an unprecedented manner. And what about our contribution to peace keeping? What about our respect for business contracts? What about even as basic a diplomatic competency score as protocol?
Sierra Leone needs a turnaround to be able to raise its voice at the security council
The Bio government does not have that character to be a respect voice. To ensure that Sierra Leone brings home the fruits of membership of the security council warrants a new start, away from human rights abuses, economic meltdown, and recession of the country’s democracy.
The momentum of a new government will make the country a more listened to member of the council, a new voice for democracy, peace, resilience, the environment and security. That increased voice brings greater respect and visibility, and with that greater ability to bring home the better benefits of a globalized world.