By Kebba Jeffang
Upon completion of his two day visit to the Gambia in which he held discussion with President Adama Barrow, the Assistant Secretary General for peace-building support informed journalists that the United Nations supports the Gambia government with initial 3 million US dollars (150 Million dalasis) allocated by the UN Peace-building Fund.
Held at the UN house, Cape Point, on Tuesday, March 21, the peace building expert was accompanied by the Chair of Peace-building Commission as well as Mamadou Tangara, the Gambia’s permanent representative to the UN. The press conference was chaired by Ms. Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, UN representative in Banjul.
Assistant SG, Mr. Oscar Fernandez-Taranco
Assistant SG, Mr. Oscar Fernandez-Taranco said the two day visit came as a follow up to the recent joint visit of the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for political affairs Mr. Jeffrey Feltman and Special Representative of the Secretary General for West Africa and the Sahel Mr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas.
He said prior to meeting the President, his delegation met the Foreign affairs minister, IEC and ECOWAS as well.
He said they discussed the key priorities for sustaining peace in the Gambia which are to be supported with an initial 3 Million dollars allocated by the UN Peace-building Fund. He said the key focus of the mission was to discuss the details of the initial support to be provided by the UN, based on recommendations of previous UN missions including the recent mission by Under-Secretary-General. He confirmed that the said amount is already a ready cheque waiting for The Gambia government to meet up the procedural requirements and assured that more financial support will be given to the government.
He said “the support to an inclusive consultative process to facilitate nationally-owned transitional justice mechanisms to engender sustainability was highlighted. This process could be initiated with a stakeholders meeting with participation of national and international experts on transitional justice. The importance of an inclusive process based on country-wide consultations was underlined.”
He said during the consultations, support to justice sector, in particular capacity building of the judiciary, was also discussed. He said strengthening the rule of law in the country and ensuring justice service delivery in accordance with international and regional standards, including for crimes committed in the past.
“The support to the reform of the security sector was identified as another key priority for sustaining peace. The assistance of the UN on security sector reform will include a comprehensive assessment of the security sector, covering all security and defense institutions, to be started as soon as possible,” he said.
“During the discussion, the right sequencing in implementation of the key reforms and linkages between transitional justice process, justice and security sector reform was highlighted. The establishment of an Independent National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) was also discussed as key oversight mechanism.
He added that the importance of building bridges between political, security, human rights and development interventions was stressed and the inclusion of peace-building elements in the national development plan stressed.
For his part, Ambassador Cho Tae-yul, Chair of the United Nations Peace-building Commission said their meeting with President Barrow provided them the opportunity to assess first-hand the peace-building challenges and discuss concrete ways to support the country’s ongoing sustaining efforts.
“We agreed that the political, security, development and human rights priorities, particularly in the new democratic Gambia would benefit from continued attention and support from the international community. “I stressed the importance of the peace-building commission’s convening role, a platform that can mobilize deeper commitment and partnership between the national stakeholders, the UN system and other regional and international partners in support of the Gambia’s peace-building priorities,” he said.
Chair Mr. Tae-yul who is also the permanent representative of Korea to UN concluded by reaffirming the commitment of the UN to ensuring timely support to the government’s peace building priorities.