Home | Comment & Analysis    Friday 7 March 2014

From the ashes of war, seeds of peace


By Ban Ki-moon

March 6, 2014 - What was once the biggest United Nations peacekeeping operation in the world winds down this month, and the most extraordinary part of this historic development is that international troops are not the only ones departing the country – nationals from the once war-ravaged nation are donning blue helmets as they deploy to serve with the UN in other troubled parts of the world.

Sierra Leone used to be synonymous with brutality. The savage, decade-long war there was marked by appalling atrocities against civilians.

Shocked into action, the world responded by backing a series of United Nations peacekeeping and peace operations. In the process, the international community paved the way for breakthroughs that will resonate far beyond Sierra Leone for years to come.

We must give full credit where it is due: the peace I witnessed at the closing ceremony in Freetown this month is first and foremost an accomplishment of the Sierra Leonean people, who showed tremendous resolve to heal and rebuild. The UN is proud to have supported them – and we thank them for proving our value.

Sierra Leone saw many UN “firsts”, hosting the UN’s first multi-dimensional peacekeeping operation with political, security, humanitarian and national recovery mandates. The UN Peacebuilding Commission made its first-ever visit to Sierra Leone. Our final mission there was led by the first senior UN official heading a unified political and development presence.

The United Nations was proud to help set up the Special Court for Sierra Leone – making it the first country in Africa to establish, with UN participation, a tribunal on its own territory to address the most serious international crimes.

When the Special Court closed last year, it was the first of the UN and UN-backed tribunals to successfully complete its mandate. The Special Court’s sentencing of former Liberian President Charles Taylor was the first conviction of a former Head of State since Nuremberg – sending a stern warning that even top leaders must pay for their crimes. Other trials saw first-ever convictions for attacks against UN peacekeepers, forced marriage as a crime against humanity, and the use of child soldiers.

These breakthrough accomplishments added to a solid record of achievements. UN blue helmets disarmed more than 75,000 ex-fighters, including hundreds of child soldiers, and destroyed more than 42,000 weapons and 1.2 million rounds of ammunition. The UN assisted more than half a million Sierra Leonean refugees and internally displaced persons to return home and supported training for thousands of local police. The UN helped the Government to combat illicit diamond mining that fuelled the conflict, and to establish control over the affected areas. With the UN’s help, Sierra Leone’s citizens voted in successive free and fair elections for the first time in their history.

The UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office helped Sierra Leone to consolidate progress, addressing tensions that could have caused a relapse into conflict while strengthening institutions and promoting human rights. It helped the Government to bolster the political process, emphasizing dialogue and tolerance, and further strengthened the national police, even supporting the establishment of the first Transnational Organized Crime Unit in West Africa.

Our final mission is departing Sierra Leone but a United Nations country team will remain until long-term development takes root, supporting good governance, quality education, health services and other essential conditions for progress.

Other countries now mired in fighting, divided by hatred and wounded by atrocities, can draw hope from Sierra Leone. Its resilient people have given peacekeeping their greatest possible vote of confidence by sending troops to serve where the UN flag flies today. They understand that national goodwill backed by international support can enable even the most devastated areas to enjoy lasting peace.

Ban Ki-moon is the Secretary-General of the United Nations

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  • 7 March 10:31, by Tutbol

    With all due respect to the man from land of ’ganghum style’ your lectures to S Sudanese would on to deaf hears, S Sudanese do not hate your UN-US govt just because it is being run a Korean, a man from the land of ’Ganghum style’ excuse me for quoting that song, I just like that song though. But S Sudanese have come to hate your UN-US govt for, for your UN-US govt had derailed from its course....

    repondre message

    • 7 March 10:59, by Tutbol

      Your UN-US govt tends to be dictated by the five countries & particularly the gang of three evil countries: the US, UK & France, behave as if they are everybody gods, when they are nothing, but bunch evils & criminals turn other peoples’ bullies, while the guy from the ’land of Ganghum’, Ban KI Moon is here telling S Sudanese nonsense, he is playing the UN as a benign organisation, when in truth..

      repondre message

      • 7 March 11:14, by Tutbol

        the guy from the land of ’Ganghum style’ Ban Ki Moon, is playing his US-Europeans evils game on the S Sudan & S Sudanese peoples. Mr. Ki moon must know that, his game his UN-US evil game isn’t going to be bought by the living S Sudanese. In S Sudan, we don’t even want their ’evil intrigues’...

        repondre message

  • 7 March 12:22, by Tata

    You have to know that UN is an instrument of US and allies they use to terrorize weak nations like South Sudan. US/Belgium used UN to persuade rivals of P. Lummumba to assassinate him. The same America established base in Rwanda to invade DR Congo. They bought his step son Joseph to kill his step father Laurent Desire Kabilla in 2001.

    repondre message

    • 7 March 12:27, by Tata

      America and allies work around the clock to ensure that Machar is in POWER to grant them 100% right to explore SS oil reserve without check or question of nature of the operation. They supported dictators in Middle East to observe their rights to oil reserves, at the same time they trained Arab generations of 1990s and 2000s on soft technologies and their applications, which triggered Arab Spring.

      repondre message

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