NEW YORK, 8 OCTOBER 1997
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR TADEU SOARES, DEPUTY PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3822nd MEETING (the situation in Sierra Leone)
Portugal fully supports the objectives of the draft resolution before the Council. The measures contained in it seek to reverse the situation created by the illegal coup d'état in Sierra Leone and to bring about, by peaceful means, the restoration of democratic rule, constitutional order and respect for human rights.
Under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, which foresees the utilization of regional arrangements for the enforcement of Council decisions, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been authorized to ensure the strict implementation of the provisions of the draft resolution that are referred to in operative paragraph 8.
It is our understanding that the draft resolution seeks the restoration of the democratically elected Government of Sierra Leone by peaceful means. Indeed, we understand these sanctions as a political tool designed to make the junta realize that its unlawful actions have not been received with indifference by the international community. These sanctions are tailored to penalize those who have consistently refused to abide by the rules of democracy. They are not addressed against the people of Sierra Leone, the very people we want to protect by adopting this draft resolution.
One aspect of the draft resolution we consider very important, and the inclusion of which we supported, is the need to establish appropriate mechanisms for the provision of humanitarian assistance and to ensure its safe delivery to the population for which it is intended.
We are very concerned about the plight of refugees and internally displaced persons, and the United Nations, with other relevant organizations, must continue to ensure the well-being of those affected by the crisis.
The crisis in Sierra Leone is, of course, worrying in itself on account of the usurpation of constitutional order. But it is also a destabilizing factor for the region, in particular for neighbouring countries, such as Liberia, where the still-fragile process of national reconciliation is trying to take hold.
The international community, through this draft resolution of the Security Council and through the activities of ECOWAS and other organizations, is demonstrating its willingness to help resolve the crisis in Sierra Leone by peaceful means. We urge the military junta to take heed of the will of the international community and respond positively by giving up its illegal claim to power. It should resume negotiations in good faith to make way for the return of democratic rule and constitutional order in Sierra Leone.