"The completion of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office, UNIPSIL, marks the end of more than 15 years of successive peace and political operations that all played critical roles in supporting Sierra Leone's remarkable transition from war to peace," United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated during a joint press conference with Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma.
He commended the people of Sierra Leone for their determination to put the war behind and the international community for staying the course through the challenging process of keeping, consolidating and building peace. "Sierra Leone represents one of the world's most successful cases of post-conflict recovery, peacekeeping and peacebuilding," the Secretary-General further added during his second official visit to Sierra Leone, pointing out that other countries now torn by war can draw hope from this example. He stated that efforts must continue to build upon the peace gained today.
"We derive tremendous courage and confidence from the United Nations; the United Nations was pivotal in our transition from armed conflict to peace," Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma said during the joint press conference. "We are building on this partnership for stability as we move forward with our actions for sustainable development, peace and democracy." The President noted that the transition of Sierra Leone into one of the fastest growing economies in the world and its effective participation in United Nations Peacekeeping missions are clear testaments to the successful transformation of the country.
During their joint meeting, President Koroma and the Secretary-General discussed the continued cooperation between the UN and the Government. The Secretary-General also met with representatives of political parties and civil societies and attended the official closing ceremony of UNIPSIL.
Over fifteen years of successive UN peace and political operations in Sierra Leone will end 31 March 2014 when UNIPSIL closes down as per United Nations Security Council Resolution (2097) of March 2013. This transition from an Integrated Peace Office - a political mission - to a more development-focused UN presence also marks a new phase of UN support in the country. The UN Family in Sierra Leone currently consists of 19 agencies, funds and programmes and a total of about 600 staff. The specialized agencies will continue to support Sierra Leone after UNIPSIL closes in meeting new challenges as the country moves forward and carry forward some of UNIPSIL's residual tasks, including support for the ongoing constitutional review process.