UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday praised Sierra Leone as one of the world’s most successful cases of post-conflict recovery, peacekeeping and peace-building.
Ban spoke during a visit to Freetown to take part in a ceremony to formally shut down the UN Integrated Peace-building Office.
The shut down marks the end of 15 years of peace operations in the West African country.
Fifteen years after UNPISIL was established, the office was formally closed and its responsibilities transferred to the UN Country Team, consisting of 19 agencies, funds and programs, and based on the UN Development Assistance Framework, UNDAF.
Given signs of real progress in Sierra Leone, the Security Council unanimously agreed last year that UNIPSIL would drawdown by March 31, 2014.
The Secretary-General noted that for 11 years, Sierra Leone had been torn by a civil war after the rebel Revolutionary United Front intervened in an attempt to overthrow the country’s then-President Joseph Momoh.
Ban said that the 1991-2002 conflict was often punctuated by acts of extreme brutality as marauding bands of armed youths terrorised the countryside, conscripting child soldiers and amputated limbs as an intimidation method against civilians.
He said that Sierra Leone had taught the world many lessons, but none more important than the power of people to shape their future.
Ban said that a strong investment in material resources, human energy, international support and national goodwill can bring lasting peace, adding that other countries devastated by conflict can draw hope from Sierra Leone.
In November 2012, the country successfully held national presidential, parliamentary and local council elections.