October 12, 2018
By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
The United Nations Resident Coordinator, who also doubles as United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in Sierra Leone, Sunil Saigal, has observed that the presence of peace and justice for all was key condition for developing a strong and resilient society.
Sunil Saigal was yesterday speaking at the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG16+) Technical Consultation on justice at the Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel, Aberdeen in Freetown.
‘’There can be no doubt that the resolve of the people of Sierra Leone to achieve peace has helped them achieve the admirable resilience, which has been tested so much during the most recent decades,” he said, adding that they in the UN system will shortly begin planning their next UN Development Assistance Framework to support the development priorities of the Government of Sierra Leone.
“The new framework will be firmly anchored on the SDGs, and – without precipitating decisions to be taken – our team will be ready to support the government in the achievement of inclusive solutions for this country in relation to SDG 16 and beyond, continuing their close partnership to deliver justice service for all and ensuring that no one is left behind,” he said.
The UNDP Resident Rep said the 2030 Agenda is a universal and interconnected agenda, adding that SDG 16 is a complex but critical part of it with its targets – from reducing violence and conflict to strengthening the rule of law and access to justice.
‘’Crucially, they also have a key role to play in accelerating progress across all the other Goals and targets. Goal 16 in fact is a perfect illustration of not just the interconnectedness of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals but also their interdependence, their mutually reinforcing nature. Simply put, no single goal can be fully achieved in all its dimensions without the achievement of all goals. For that reason, we are focusing today on Goal 16 ‘plus’: Effective, inclusive and responsive institutions,’’ he said.
He revealed that at latest count, 13 countries have announced their participation in those countries that should provide an excellent basis for an impressive and inspiring dialogue.
‘’2019 will be a significant year. Sierra Leone has committed to undertake its first Voluntary National Review (VNR) to report progress across all the SDGs next year. 2019 is also when SDG 16 will be formally reviewed at the High-Level Political Forum, which is the central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the SDGs, held annually at UN Headquarters in New York.’’
He salutes the leadership role assumed by Sierra Leone in key initiatives to promote SDG 16+ at the global level , and “we salute the deepening of the commitment to the principles of peace, justice and inclusion, which the Government has demonstrated not least this week through the hosting of the SDG 16+ Annual Showcase and Justice Leaders’ Dialogue and now through hosting, together with the United Nations Development Programme and the Global Alliance for Reporting on Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, the first SDG 16+ technical consultation on justice.”
Speaking on behalf of the Chief justice, Justice of the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone, Hon. Nicholas Colin Browne- Marke, expressed delight for speaking at the SDG 16+ consultation on justice, adding that the consultation of great minds showed how much the country was esteemed in the eyes of the rest of the world.
He said having listened with keen interest when presentations were made during the taskforce on justice seminar, he was struck by the varied ways countries, both developed and developing, were trying to tackle justice issues head on.
“All of the methods outlined had one aim in view- the elimination of delay in the trial of cases and the pursuit of more openness, transparency, and fairness in justice institutions and in justice delivery,” he said.
He added that when he spoke about justice institutions, he meant the penal of correctional system which was now acknowledged both here in Sierra Leone and worldwide that, justice delivery must include some concern for the under privileged -for those who have come in contact with the law both as victims and as accused persons.
The Supreme Court justice said he was privileged when the Attorney General and Minster of Justice did a presentation on policy issues and the ministries review, which will gear towards a fairer and speedier justice delivery system.
“The judiciary of Sierra Leone has the same end in view, and during the past three years with the active assistance of UNDP in particular , DFID, the European Union, Irish Aid and other donor institutions ,we have come a long way since the 1990s,’’ he said.
He added that even though the judiciary was challenged, they were working hard to deliver justice to the people of Sierra Leone as more reforms have been done since.
Katy Thompson, Rule of Law and Conflict Prevention Team leader at UNDP, expressed her delight for the representation of the private sector, and hoped that it will be something of interest to those working on justice sector delivery.
She said they were aware that there were many national authorities struggling how to prioritise against across very complicated integrated agenda, stating that one of the ways they could support was by putting together other interests that were active in that area.
“Because of that, we have underpinned a partnership called the Global Alliance bringing together civil society actors, private sector, UN actors to try and build promises to enable you to progress your work in this area. My colleagues will be taking comprehensive notes on the experiences you will be sharing here where we are to invest and they will be documenting them,’’ she said.
The UNDP conflict prevention team leader said the consultation was one of several consultations and that they were going to do another consultation come November in Cape Verde, focusing on the linkages between human rights, Universal Period Review (UPR) and SDGS.