TheSierra Leone Civil War broke out in 1991, bearing similarity to the situationin Iraq in that it was closely interconnected with the civil war then ongoingin the neighboring Liberia. The civil war devastated the country, leaving morethan 50,000 dead and over 2 million displaced as refugees. In 1996, the thenmilitary leader, Brigadier Bio, stated that he was committed to ending thecivil war and restoring the country to being governed by a democraticallyelected civilian government. Months later, he fulfilled his promise, handingpower over to the democratically elected Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. In 1999, theUnited Nations agreed to send peacekeepers to Sierra Leone. Two years later, UNforces began to move into rebel-held areas and disarm rebel soldiers.
ByJanuary 2002, the war was finally declared over.The Peacebuilding Commission,established in 2005 by the United Nations General Assembly and the SecurityCouncil during the reform process initiated during the 60th session of theGeneral Assembly. During its first year of operation, the Commission focusedits efforts on Burundi and Sierra Leone. In 2007, the Security Council extendedthe mandate of the United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone andencouraged the government of Sierra Leone to continue to closely engage with thePeacebuilding Commission. In the same year, the Sierra Leone PeacebuildingCooperation Framework was issued, which laid down the principles forcooperation and analyzed the priorities, challenges and risks for peacebuildingin the specific context of Sierra Leone.
It identified the PeacebuildingCommission’s role as “to bring together all relevant actors to marshalresources and advice on and propose integrated strategies for post-conflictpeacebuilding and recovery”; that is, compared with direct involvement in thereconstruction of post-war Sierra Leone, the Commission acts more as anintermediate that investigates local needs, comes up with effectivepeacebuilding strategies, and channels resources offered by the internationalcommunity.From then on, the Peacebuilding Commission has held biannual reviewsof the implementation of the Framework.The peacebuilding process in SierraLeone has been steadily advancing over the years. A major milestone was the2012 elections, which are widely seen as a core benchmark for peaceconsolidation. In order to ensure the elections were peaceful, free, andcredible, the Commission has led joint efforts with the government of SierraLeone as well as other major stakeholders to prepare for them, tackling bothtechnical and political challenges.
The elections also marked a new phaseof the peacebuilding process in Sierra Leone. In the briefing by the Chair ofthe Sierra Leone Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission to the SecurityCouncil, several points are emphasized for the post-election period: that somesignificant peacebuilding challenges, including youth unemployment andcombating corruption, are long-term in nature and take sustained effort inspite of past peacebuilding successes; that the United Nations should continueto play a crucial role in coordinating international actors under the frameworkof a well-developed, nationally owned peacebuilding approach; and thatpost-election transitions may create strategic and funding gaps, which callsfor intensive and sustained multilateral and bilateral assistance.b1 b1Citations please