The United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Mission in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) was established by Security Council Resolution (1829) of 4th August, 2008. The UN Security Council mandate to UNIPSIL involved both political and development activities which includes the following:
- Requested that UNIPSIL focus on and support the Government of Sierra Leone in the following areas:
Providing political support to national and local efforts for identifying and resolving tension and threats of potential conflict, whatever the source;
Monitoring and promoting human rights, democratic institutions and the rule of law; including efforts to counter transnational organized crime and drug trafficking;
Consolidating good governance reforms, with a special focus on anti-corruption instruments such as the Anti-Corruption Commission;
Supporting decentralization, reviewing the 1991 Constitution and the enactment of relevant legislation.
Closely coordinating with and supporting the work of the Peacebuilding Commission as well as the implementation of the Peacebuilding Cooperation Framework and projects supported through the Peacebuilding Fund;
Underlined the importance of establishing a fully integrated office with effective coordination of strategy and programmes among the United Nations Agencies, funds and programmes in Sierra Leone, and emphasized the need for the United Nations system to support and cooperate fully with UNIPSIL, in accordance with the Executive Representative’s function as Resident Representative and Resident Coordinator;
Stressed the need for close cooperation between UNIPSIL, ECOWAS, the Mano River Union, International Partners and other United Nations missions in the region;
Emphasized the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peacebuilding, as recognized in resolution 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008), underlined that a gender perspective should be taken into account in implementing all aspects of the mandate of UNIPSIL, and encouraged UNIPSIL to work with the Government of Sierra Leone in this regard.
The UN - Working as One in Sierra Leone
Back in December 2008, UNIPSIL, along with UN Agencies, Funds and Programs working as the UN Country Team (UNCT) in Sierra Leone, adopted a Joint Vision under which they agreed to combine their efforts to further the consolidation of peace. UNIPSIL and the UNCT have established common facilities and services such as joint regional offices, a multi-donor fund, a joint strategic unit, a medical facility, security services and a vehicle repair shop in order to enable the UN to deliver as one by maximizing synergies and avoiding duplication and overlapping of interventions.
UNIPSIL’s approach to bring together the political, humanitarian and development mandate of the various UN Agencies, Funds and Programs whilst at the same time sharing of joint facilities and services with the members of the UNCT, made UNIPSIL unique among the United Nations’ peacebuilding offices around the world.
Joint UN Vision for Sierra Leone
The Joint Vision defined the UN’s contribution to implementing the Government’s Agenda for Change. With the Joint Vision, the UN was to put into practice the main principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness under the leadership of the Government. In parallel to the Agenda for Change, the Joint Vision covered the initial period from 2009 to 2012.
Joint Strategic Planning Unit
The Joint Strategic Planning Unit was tasked to bring together the political mandate of UNIPSIL with the various development and humanitarian mandates of the agencies, programmes and funds of the UN system. The unit helped to integrate and mutually reinforce the various political and programme activities within the UN behind our common aim of consolidating peace and promoting development in Sierra Leone.
Joint Multi-Donor Trust Fund
The overall aim of the Sierra Leone Multi-Donor Trust Fund was to move towards an enhanced state of coherence and efficiency for our programmes and projects at the country level, whilst creating a joint funding window that corresponded to and supported the programmatic integration that the Office was seeking to accomplish under the Joint Vision. The objectives of the Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Sierra Leone included:
Enhancing the UN’s capability to partner with the Government and development partners to support national development plans and priorities, including the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS);
Supporting the Joint Vision through obtaining greater programme cohesion, harmonization and effectiveness;
Providing for a coherent and streamlined platform for the mobilization of additional donor resources (from resident and non-resident donors), fund allocation and reporting of the programmatic priorities of the Joint Vision;
Funding and implementation are undertaken with special attention to transparency and accountability as well as to prompt delivery and efficient utilization of resources
Joint Regional Field Offices
In order to support peacebuilding efforts throughout the country, the UN Country Team and UNIPSIL agreed on the need to establish regional field offices with the aim:
to enable the UN family to have easier and more regular access to local authorities and the population outside of Freetown;
to develop a better understanding of their needs and requirements;
to be in a better position to support the Government’s decentralization programme;
to be able to better coordinate local development initiatives with local authorities including with local Mayors, local district councils, local Paramount Chiefs, local civil society and other local institutions;
to improve coordination among UN agencies and other development partners at the local level;
to serve as an operational base for implementing and monitoring of UN programmes and projects in the provinces.
Each regional field office was to be managed by one partner UN agency but all common costs were to be shared according to an agreement reached by the UNCT. UNIPSIL maintained a helicopter service to connect all regional offices with Freetown. In the same spirit of the regional field offices, the helicopter service was also made available to mission's international development partners who wanted to send missions into the provinces.
Joint Outreach Initiatives
It was important to reach all sections of Sierra Leone’s population, especially Sierra Leone’s rural and urban poor population. For this reason, made greater efforts in developing partnerships with a wide range of Sierra Leonean organizations and institutions as outlined in the Joint Vision. In addition to the network of field offices, UNIPSIL worked with the local media and the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ). In particular, the Mission helped in transforming the UN radio, with its national outreach, into one of the first independent public broadcaster in Africa.
UNIPSIL also sought closer cooperation with national and international NGOs and civil societies as well as with Sierra Leone’s Inter-faith Council and the First Lady’s WISH initiative. They helped us to carry messages of tolerance and peace as well as to promote specific normative issues, such as observing universal human rights, protecting the rights of women and children, promoting the millennium development goals, addressing the HIV and AIDS threat or fighting against the spread of illicit drugs. This outreach was also important for maintaining a national debate about the review of Sierra Leone’s Constitution and for increasing the acceptance of Sierra Leone’s new security forces.
United Nations Joint Medical Service
The UN Joint Medical Service (UNJMS) was located at the UNIPSIL HQ Complex, at the Cabenda Hotel, Freetown.
The Medical Services were for UN staff based in Sierra Leone from the UN Agencies and UNIPSIL. Field staff travelling through Sierra Leone was also entitled to use the service. The Joint Medical Service covered issues of primary health care, emergency medicine & medical evacuations, preventive medicine, travel medicine, counseling, impairment and disability assessments and communication with HR with regard to questions concerning administration and management of staff health related issues.
Joint Security Services
The UN Integrated Safety and Security Office (UN ISSO) was made up of staff from the UN Department of Safety and Security and the UN Department of Political Affairs. It served the entire UN community in Sierra Leone with the aim to enable all UN operations in every way possible to ensure that operations continue without any interference caused by safety and security issues. To achieve this, the ISSO worked very closely with every UN organization in Sierra Leone and with the Sierra Leone Government Security authorities.
The ISSO was comprised of 27 staff, three of whom were International Security Officers. The services provided included information gathering and analysis, investigations, Pass & ID, Guard Force supervision and Security Standards adherence, and emergency response.
In Freetown, the ISSO operated two nightly security patrols made up of UN and Sierra Leone Police that responded to emergencies and conducted security checks on UN residences and facilities. These teams operated between 22:00 hrs and 06:00 am nightly.
In the field safety and security matters were handled by the Area Security Coordinators (ASC) who were appointed by the Designated Official for Security, who was the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General. They were assisted by national staff who also handled the day-to-day matters such as regional security clearances and police liaison.