Sierra Leone on Monday launched a bid for a seat in the Non-permanent category of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
President Julius Maada Bio officially launched the campaign at a ceremony at State House.
The Council is one of six organs of the UN and it has the primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security. Sierra Leone served in the influential position once, from 1970 to 1971, since it joined the UN in 1961.
“Fifty plus years after our 1970-1971 tenure on the Security Council, we are once again presenting Sierra Leone’s candidature for a seat in the non-permanent category of the United Nations Security Council for the period 2024-2025,” President Bio declared to an audience that included foreign western diplomats.
He said those two “unforgettable” years served as “bold footprints” that continued to define the West African country’s commitment to its international obligations and its unflinching support for a multilateral rules-based world order to advance and sustain global peace and security.
The ceremony was held on the theme: “Partnership, Multilateralism and Representative Approach to Sustained Global Peace and Security.”
The occasion also marked the unveiling of promotional materials for the campaign.
The UNSC presently comprises 15 member countries, five of whom are permanent members—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States. Collectively known as P5, any of these five countries can veto a resolution.
The remaining 10 members are elected to serve on rotating two-year, non-consecutive terms, without veto power.
Africa has in the past had between two and three seats in the 10 non-permanent member slots, which are currently occupied by Kenya, Ghana and Gabon.
Voting for the next cohort of members of the non-permanent slot is slated for this June, during the UN General Assembly in New York.
Sierra Leone’s plan to bid for a seat in the Security Council had been a rumour until Monday when the president publicly announced it. Reports suggested that the government had been mobilising support from friendly countries through diplomatic engagements, particularly on the continent.
The government said the bid isn’t about Sierra Leone exclusively, noting that it’s also part of a larger goal of attaining Africa’s long-held desire of a reformed UN Security Council.
Sierra Leone has been leading the African Union’s Committee of Ten (C-10), which is charged with negotiating the continent’s position on the reform of the UNSC, for about a decade now. Other members of that committee are Kenya, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of the Congo, Namibia, Zambia, Libya, Algeria, Senegal and Uganda.
Among others, Africa wants to have two permanent representatives in the Council and an additional two seats as non-permanent representatives, as enshrined in the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration, also called the African Common Position.
The Sierra Leonean government is hoping to use its war experience as the selling point for its membership, with President Bio announcing that the world has a lot to learn from its resilience.
“We owe it to the global family of nations to share our experience and lessons in peace-making, peacekeeping and peacebuilding,” the president said.
He also pledged the country’s commitment to pursue human rights protection and promotion and to build confidence in democratic governance and promotion of peaceful resolution of conflicts, among others.