NEW YORK, 13 JULY 1998
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR TADEU SOARES, DEPUTY PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3902nd MEETING (the situation in Sierra Leone)
I would like to start by saying that Portugal concurs fully with the statement just made by the representative of the Presidency of the European Union.
The consequences of the conflict in Sierra Leone and what seems currently to be the gradual emergence of a post-conflict situation require a coordinated response both from the international community and from the legitimate Government of that State. Without political will in Sierra Leone to overcome the current political and economic challenges, the consolidation of peace will remain illusory; but the same could be said if the international community failed to provide credible assistance to the people of Sierra Leone.
In this regard, Portugal commends the efforts of the Government of Sierra Leone to re-establish the democratic process and to promote the tasks of national reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation. We welcome in particular the recent adoption by President Kabbah of a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration plan.
Our delegation attaches special importance to the provisions of the draft resolution before the Council which emphasize the need to promote national reconciliation. We also join others in demanding not only that the remnants of the ousted junta and members of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) lay down their arms immediately, but also that all forces and factions in Sierra Leone respect human rights and strictly abide by the rules of international humanitarian law. Full adherence to the arms embargo imposed by resolution 1171 (1998), in particular by neighbouring countries, would also be instrumental for the stabilization of Sierra Leone.
In this context, the establishment of the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL) will also be a meaningful step in the right direction. Its carefully designed mandate is quite clear and has to be fully respected by all relevant actors in this process. We welcome the commitment of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) to ensure the security of United Nations personnel, and we hope that the necessary security arrangements can be concluded before UNOMSIL observers are actually sent to Sierra Leone.
Portugal also underlines the importance of paragraph 14 of the draft resolution, which welcomes the efforts of the Government of Sierra Leone to coordinate a national response to the needs of children affected by armed conflict, as well as the recommendation of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children in Armed Conflict that Sierra Leone be made a pilot project in the context of post-conflict peace-building. The open debate on this issue which took place in this Chamber last month under the Portuguese presidency and the subsequent adoption of the presidential statement of 29 June 1998 demonstrate the particular importance the Council attaches to this theme.
For the reasons just stated, Portugal will support the draft resolution before the Council.