On behalf of the delegation of France, I would first like to congratulate you, Mr. President, on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council. I also wish to thank delegations for their kind words about our presidency. I would also like to thank Mr. Michael von der Schulenburg, Executive Representative of the Secretary-General, Ambassador Majoor and the Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone for their statements.
The statements we have just heard confirm that the situation in Sierra Leone is improving, but that difficulties also continue. Like the Secretary-General in his report (S/2009/59), we too welcome the significant progress that has been made to consolidate peace in Sierra Leone. As the Security Council has emphasized, the proper conduct of general elections in July 2008 illustrated the commitment of the people of Sierra Leone to peace and democracy. However, the country continues to face difficulties, in particular in the socioeconomic area. Those difficulties have worsened as a result of the successive crises that have affected the global economy.
We are also very concerned about the growth of the drug trade in the subregion and its destabilizing impact on the most fragile States. In that connection, France welcomes the holding in Cape Verde, under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), of a ministerial conference on that subject from 28 to 29 October 2008, which produced a draft political statement and a three-year plan of action to combat drugs in West Africa that were adopted at the ECOWAS heads of State and Government conference last December. We hope that that will lead to the strengthening of regional cooperation in that regard. France is prepared to support United Nations efforts in that area, which could benefit from the expertise and assistance to be provided by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to combat drugs in West Africa.
The implementation of the Peacebuilding Cooperation Framework for Sierra Leone must continue. We are pleased at the productive cooperation between the Government of Sierra Leone and the Peacebuilding Commission, as illustrated by the Government’s adoption of the Framework in January 2008. We also encourage the Government of Sierra Leone to continue to implement the Framework. We would also like to recall the conclusions issued by the Peacebuilding Commission at the end of the second biannual review last December.
Moreover, France welcomes the good pace with which the operations of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) have begun. We supported replacing the United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone with an integrated United Nations political office responsible for following up on support for the peacebuilding process, including welcome support for the work of the Peacebuilding Commission.
We believe that the adoption of the Joint Vision of the United Nations Family for Sierra Leone, which sets out the way in which United Nations agencies and programmes will work in concert with UNIPSIL and integrates political and developmental initiatives, is an excellent step. Such integration is necessary to supporting hard-won peace and stability in Sierra Leone, to contributing to sustainable socio-economic development and to supporting the Government’s poverty-reduction strategy. We call on UNIPSIL to continue down that path as it carries out its mandate.