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HRCSL on the National Conference on Universal Periodic Review-UPR

HRCSL on the National Conference on Universal Periodic Review-UPR

HRCSL, WELCOME STATEMENT BY EDWARD SAM, CHAIRPERSON, HRCSL AT THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW -UPR (NOVEMBER 14 – 15, 2011) 

H.E The President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma
Hon. Vice President, Chief Sam Sumana
Executive Representative of the Secretary General
Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament
Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps
Paramount Chiefs and other traditional and religious leaders
Representatives of Ministries, Departments and Agencies
Civil Society and the fourth estate
Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen, 

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all to this National Conference on developing a roadmap and strategies for implementation of the UPR recommendations for Sierra Leone. Let me also thank you for adjusting your busy schedules to honour our invitation to attend this all important event; for some of you, on short notice, especially stakeholders from the provinces.

This conference is being organized by the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone in collaboration with the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone, the United Nations Integrated Peace-building Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL); and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) in Geneva.

A very special welcome and appreciation is extended to His Excellency the President, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma and Vice President, Hon. Alhaji Chief Sam Sumana for priotising this conference among their busy schedules by consenting and being with us here especially His Excellency, to present the keynote address.

During the interactive dialogue on the UPR in Geneva last May, 41 delegations made statements. A number of them commendedSierra Leonefor its commitment to advancing human rights, for the national report which set out the achievements and challenges faced by the Government as well as constructively engaging with civil society and the media at every stage in the preparation.

The aforementioned delegates recognized the remarkable progress made so far after more than 10 years of brutal civil war.

This clearly underscores the commitment of government to the UPR mechanism and process including the promotion and protection of a human rights culture in Sierra Leone that is so critical for rebrandingSierra Leoneand realizing the Government agenda for change.

The UPR cycle seen from the State under Review – SuR perspective indicates that Sierra Leone complied with the guidelines prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – OHCHR. Thus, in total, we went through phase 1-preparation of a national report, 2- international reporting, 3-international review, and 4- implementation of recommendations.

The overriding objective of this fourth stage, which brings together 200 relevant stakeholders from the length and breadth of the country, is to generate consensus on the way forward for the successful implementation of the UPR recommendations. The follow up of the recommendations is the most critical and important phase of the whole UPR process as it is the one leading to the concrete realization of the UPR goal. That is, the “improvement of the human rights situation on the ground.”

The success of this phase will also determine the efficiency and credibility of the mechanism and demonstrateSierra Leone’s engagement in the promotion and strengthening of the culture of human rights.

Reaching the end of the first cycle, assessments on the stage of implementation of recommendations must be advanced. They should look into the approaches and methods planned for such implementation, including the creation of specific bodies and national plans of action and the participation of civil society.

Developing roadmaps and practical mechanisms to ensure a reliable follow up is indeed a significant challenge for the future.

The theme for this conference “Developing a Roadmap and Strategies for the Implementation of UPR Recommendations”, could not have been more appropriate as it clearly epitomizes the determination and commitment of the organizers to the successful implementation of the UPR recommendations, through dialogue, constructive stakeholder engagement and sustained advocacy, especially when the Government has also committed itself to the process.

Established in 2006 by the United Nations, the UPR is a unique process that involves the review and appreciation of the human rights records of each of the 192 UN Member States by fellow member states every four years.

Sierra Leonewas reviewed for the first time in May and the Final UPR report, with concrete recommendations was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in September. The recommendations are key to our development aspirations and the promotion and protection of human rights.

It is therefore our fervent hope that all of you invitees will not only be focused during the deliberations, but will endeavour to be actively engaged in all the sessions and contribute meaningfully at every level of the dialogue, in order to enable us achieve the objectives of this conference.

Once more, let me on behalf of my colleague commissioners and staff and the organisers of this conference, welcome and thank you for your attendance, while wishing you a fruitful and successful deliberation.

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