The African Bar Association (AfBA) has officially submitted a special invitation to the former President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, to attend the Association’s annual conference slated to be held between 3rd and 7th October, 2021 in Niamey, Niger. In the special invitation, AfBA also notified President Koroma of its decision to honour him with the 2021 African Leadership Medal during the Annual Conference
At a short presentation ceremony in Makeni recently, AfBA’s Director of Information and Protocol, Elvis Enoh, said the African Bar Association was established in 1971 as an advocacy group seeking to promote good governance, constitutionality and the rule of law in Africa.
Enoh went on to state that the AfBA had passed a resolution to honour some of the deserving past leaders on continent for their services to Africa in promoting Good Governance, Democracy and the Rule of Law while in office.
“In this Direction, Enoh added, the African Bah Association will be pleased to decorate Your Excellency with the African Bar Leadership Medal at the Opening Ceremony of the Conference…”
Accepting the invitation, Former President Koroma said:
“I accept this invitation with all humility and I am going to dedicate the award to the people of Sierra Leone who gave me the opportunity to serve, members of my administration whose support was instrumental to what we were able to accomplish, and my political party that gave me a platform.
The well acclaimed Sierra Leonean statesman also reassured AfBA that he would continue to dedicate his energy, time and other resources towards promoting peace and good governance in Africa.
President Koroma will be among six other former leaders and diplomats to be awarded in Niamey.
Elvis Enoh was Accompanied by the AfBA Vice President for West Africa, Rhoda Nuni, Information and Protocol Officer, Boyzie Kamara from the AfBA Chapter Sierra Leone and Mr Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara who is a life time Member of AfBA Governing Council.
UN Scribe Rep. Congratulates Bio
The new Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, Annadif Khatir Mahamat Saleh, has paid a courtesy call on His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio and congratulated him on “on-going institutional reforms in the country”.
The envoy, who took up office on 26 April after his appointment on March 26 this year by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, thanked President Bio for making time to meet him, adding that since his appointment he had visited almost all Heads of State in the ECOWAS region to get firsthand information on the political systems.
“My visit is to assess and know the governance successes and challenges and to provide support from the United Nations. The United Nations congratulates you on the abolition of the death penalty and the establishment of the Sexual Offences Courts”, he confirmed.
It could be recalled that on 24 July 2020, President Julius Maada Bio launched the country’s first-ever Sexual Offences Model Court and praised the great courage of survivors of Sexual and Gender-based Violence.
In his brief remarks, the President welcomed the UN special envoy, saying that the institutional reforms he talked about were needed to strengthen democracy in developing nations. He said that was why his government repealed the 55-year-old seditious libel section of the Public Order Act 1965 that criminalised free speech and stifled journalism.
He also informed Mr. Saleh that his government had strengthened the sexual offenses laws and abolished the death penalty in the country, which reinforced his earlier commitment to the belief in the sanctity of life of every citizen.
”I am very happy to receive you. My government has prioritised Human Capital Development as a tool for development because the most treasured mineral in the country is the people. We are investing in the education of our children because we want them to be productive in the economy. This may seem impossible to many, but it is possible,” he assured.
He said his government had done a lot in the last 3 years, adding that he hoped to do more. He, therefore, called on international partners and credible investors to help him translate his vision into developing Sierra Leone.
S/Leone Scores Major Achievements in Arms Treaty
A week of intensive meetings of the Seventh Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), chaired by Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Switzerland and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva, Switzerland, Ambassador Lansana Gberie, as President, ended with all key initiatives and decisions by Sierra Leone unanimously adopted by delegates.
The Conference, organized in a hybrid format – with in-person and online attendance – was attended by 103 States, seven International and Regional Organizations, and 33 Representatives of Civil Society and the Arms Industry. Delegates from the European Union, International Committee of the Red Cross, Inter-Parliamentary Union, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Wassenaar Arrangement all made statements of support for the work of the ATT and its President. The Gambia and Kenya, not yet signatory States but whose Heads of State received a letter from His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone urging them to join the treaty, sent delegations to the Conference by Rule 3 of the Rules of Procedure and are currently engaged with the procedure to become full States Parties.
The priority theme of the conference – based on the President’s Working Paper entitled “Small Arms and Light Weapons and Stockpile Management” – was unanimously endorsed. Among others, the Conference decided that all “stakeholders should map and better utilize existing guidance and tools developed under relevant international and regional instruments on preventing the illicit trade in SALW and strengthening stockpile management and security to prevent diversion as a way to strengthen ATT implementation.” It urged all States Parties to share “information on effective and innovative stockpile management programs through updates to their ATT initial reports,” as well as to provide information on their “national practices relating to ‘mitigating measures’” with respect to gender-based violence including as “related to stockpile security: what these can be and how they are implemented.
Ambassador Gberie was elected President of the Seventh Conference of States Parties at the Sixth Conference in August last year and has presided over the treaty body since, including through the preparatory process for the Seventh Conference. He was only the second African – Ambassador Emmanuel E. Imohe of Nigeria was the first – to hold the position since the ATT was established. At the close of the Seventh Conference, Ambassador Gberie handed over the presidency to Ambassador Thomas Goebel, the Permanent Representative of Germany to the Conference on Disarmament.
The Conference was officially opened by Professor David John Francis, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Sierra Leone, on behalf of His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio. H.E. Mr Sheik Omar FAYE, Minister of Defense, Republic of the Gambia, delivered a well-received statement committing to the Gambia to joining the ATT.
“I am honoured to address this seventh Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty on behalf of my President, His Excellency President Adama Barrow. Early this year, President Barrow received a letter from his brother, His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone, inviting the Gambia to join the Arms Trade Treaty. This invitation reminded us immediately that our country was the only one in West Africa that has not yet signed or ratified the treaty. So let me thank you, Mr President, for your efforts to expand the membership of the ATT in these challenging times.” He added: “Mr President, ladies, and gentlemen, let me conclude by conveying to you, with great pleasure, His Excellency, President Barrow’s decision to accede to the ATT and become a state party. The Gambia looks forward to formalising the accession and subsequent ratification process and becoming a trustful and cooperative member of the ATT community”, he said.
Plenary statements were also made by Mr. Gilles CARBONNIER, Vice President, International Committee of the Red Cross and Mr. Eugine Nyuydine NGALIM, Executive Director, Cameroon Youth and Students Forum for Peace, Control Arms. Video messages from H.E. Mme. Marie-Gabrielle INEICHEN-FLEISCH, State Secretary for Economic Affairs, the Swiss Confederation and H.E. Ms. Izumi NAKAMITSU, Under-Secretary-General and UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs were shown at the opening as well.
Praises for Ambassador Gberie dominated the closing day of the Conference and after. From Ambassador Julia Imene-Chanduru, Namibia’s Permanent Representative to Geneva, in a Note: “As the Coordinator of Disarmament Matters in the Africa Group, I wish to note that your tireless efforts…throughout the Seventh Cycle of the CSP, under the important theme of Small Arms and Light Weapons, and Stockpile Management, have made great strides in advancing the goals of the ATT. As an African, we are immensely proud of you.” From the Ambassador Aiden Liddle, UK’s Permanent Representative to the Disarmament Conference, also in a Note: “Very many congratulations to you and your team for the excellent outcome and smooth running of the ATT Conference of States Parties this week. It was wonderful to have your Minister here in person to open proceedings and teeing up the announcement from The Gambia was a special touch. And I thought the discussion on your Presidency paper was very important and substantive. The elements which might have proved controversial in the end were handled very smoothly and discreetly. So, after the difficulties of last year – and I don’t pretend that the circumstances were ideal this year either – we can safely say the ATT is back on track, and you hand it over to Germany in sound working order.”
Ambassador Gberie assured the President of the Eighth Conference of States Parties of the Arms Trade Treaty of his unflinching support, particularly on treaty universalization.
The ATT is the key instrument for regulating the global arms trade, covering the production, movement, and stockpiling of weapons, as well as human rights issues that are salient in armed conflict.