Strengthening Diplomatic Ties… Republic of Iceland Opens Embassy In Sierra Leone

Country Lodge, Freetown – 2nd May 2024
The Republic of Iceland Thursday opened an Embassy in Freetown, making Serra Leone the third African bilateral partners of the Nordic nation after Malawi and Uganda.
The occasion was later in the evening celebrated at the lush Country Lodge in western Freetown graced by government officials and the diplomatic community.
Welcoming guests at the cocktail party, Head of Chancery, Asdis Bjarnadottir said that Sierra Leone and Iceland are both small coastal nations that make use of the sea for a living irrespective of the difference in climate. The establishment of the Iceland embassy in Sierra Leone, she said, would contribute to the shared values of peace cooperation and development.
Like Sierra Leone, Iceland used to be among Europe’s poorest countries receiving aid and other development assistance in the 70s. But by harnessing their natural resources mainly fishery and renewable energy, the country has built a resilient economy with a prosperous livelihood for their people, Bjarnadottir explained. Iceland, through their embassy in Sierra Leone, would love to share their resilient experience and be of assistance to Sierra Leone, she emphasized.
“As a development partner, Iceland strives to work in countries where their presence adds value by creating synergy with other development partners to produce tangible development results and these can be achieved in Sierra Leone by impacting the lives of the people,” she said.
She said Iceland’s development impacts cut across various sectors in Sierra Leone ranging from the WASH project which supports 60,000 people access to clean water through collaboration with the Sierra Leone Government, UNICEF and other implementing partners.
She commended the government of Sierra Leone for progress made so far in promoting gender; noting that their embassy was developing an Iceland’s Country Partnership Strategy with Sierra Leone so that they could contribute to Sierra Leone’s National development plan in Gender Equality, Human rights, and the blue economy; a key policy of the Iceland government.

Ms Elin Rosa Sigurdardottir, Iceland’s Foreign Affairs Director-General, said that Sierra Leone and Iceland are two small countries trying to make a difference in the international communities as Sierra Leone is in the United Nations Security Council and Iceland is a candidate for the Human Rights Council.

She said that with a sound educative system, Iceland has transformed its story into a much better one which could be replicated in Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Musa Timothy Kabba, on behalf of His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio thanked the Government of Iceland for strengthening and reaching a high point of diplomatic ties with the Government and people of Sierra Leone.
“The opening of an Iceland Embassy here today is a direct testament to the excellent bilateral relations that have existed between our two countries over the past years. I am pleased to note here that the generosity of the Icelandic people has been quite impactful in the marine resources sector where Iceland’s comparative advantage in the sustainable management of the blue economy has become most beneficial to the people of Sierra Leone”, the minister said.
Kabba said Sierra Leone’s fishing communities were direct beneficiaries of Iceland cooperation thereby enhancing livelihood through improved capacity and increased productivity.
Minister Kabba assured the Embassy of the government full commitment to strengthen the bilateral ties between the two nations.

Sierra Leone Hosts First Regional Conference on Autonomous Weapons

Sierra Leone Hosts First Regional Conference on Autonomous Weapons

Bintumani Conference,
Aberdeen Freetown -17th April 2024-

ECOWAS Foreign Ministers, Security Experts, and Artificial Intelligence Specialists Wednesday commenced a two-day workshop at the Bintumani Conference Center in Freetown to discuss sub-regional regulatory measures that would inform a global treaty in the near future on the use and control of Autonomous Weapons.

Welcoming other ECOWAS Foreign Ministers, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Musa Timothy Kabba, underscored the urgent need for a regional ECOWAS conference to address the rapidly advancing and menacing military technology known as autonomous weapons systems.
“We are gathered here today against the background of multiple global crises that have put a strain not only on the international order, but also on our political, legal, and ethical systems – the current conflict situations …, the climate change crisis with its attendant costs, and the geopolitical instabilities rocking the foundation of our global system”, he said.
Kabbah described the Autonomous Weapons System as a lethal new threat to global security and human dignity in conflict situations.

He said the implications of the use of such systems are not only dangerous but indicative of a deterioration of valued principles of accountability and responsibility which are protected by International Law.

Giving the significance of the ECOWAS sub-regional conference on autonomous weapons systems, Kabbah said that it seeks to critically assess and analyze these new phenomena in military hardware and their application in conflict situations, with the view to decide on a regional position on their existence or application in contribution to the global efforts to establish a regulatory framework through a legally binding international instrument.
Though ECOWAS recognizes developments in other regions regarding decisions and declarations on autonomous weapons and the growing field of Artificial Intelligence, he said, they also had a responsibility to be a part of discussions concerning security, peace, and human dignity.
“My hope is that this Conference will serve to unite us for a formidable regional voice regarding autonomous weapons systems and their use in conflicts”, the minister said.

He said ECOWAS owes it to their people to initiate an African regional position on Autonomous Weapons and be part of the global response to the progressive discussions at the multilateral level, especially at the United Nations General Assembly and at the Human Rights Council since 2013.
“I therefore implore you all to use these few days in Freetown to build a regional policy that we would present on behalf of our various peoples to the international community indicating our standpoint on the issue of autonomous weapons systems,” he added.

Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio who gave the keynote address said the conference aligns with his country’s role as an elected member in the Non-Permanent Category of the UN Security Council, which advocates for a rules-based world order to enhance global security.
He said Autonomous Weapons Systems are emerging as one of the most fundamental challenges that confront the world’s collective responsibility to safeguard global peace, security, and human dignity.
“Autonomous Weapons Systems represent a significant advancement in technology, offering capabilities that were once in the realm of science fiction. However, with this advancement comes a range of complex ethical, legal, and security challenges that demand our urgent attention”, the president said.
President Bio said respective national leaders must ensure technologies are developed and used in a manner that upholds the principles of international law, human rights, and humanitarian values. Therefore, he said, the prospect of machines making life-and-death decisions on the battlefield is deeply troubling and demands rigorous debate and careful consideration.

“By bringing together experts, policymakers, and stakeholders from across the region, we can forge common understanding and develop strategies to address the challenges posed by Autonomous Weapons Systems”, Bio emphasized among other significant points.

Ambassador Dr Abdel-Fatao Musah, Commissioner of Political Affairs, Peace and Security of ECOWAS, underscored the timely hosting of such a crucial conference not only for Africa but for the world at a time when the evidence of a Third World War is glaring.

From the Directorate of Strategic Communications
MFAIC

Foreign Service Academy Signs MOU with UNIMAK

Thursday, 18 May, 2024

From the Directorate of Strategic Communications

 The Foreign Service Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Political Science & International Relations of the University of Makeni (UNIMAK).

The purpose of the MOU is to establish a framework for cooperation and collaboration between UNIMAK and FSA in the field of political science and International Relations; collaborate in joint research projects; exchange programs, information sharing, seminars, workshops, and other activities, part of the agreement reads.

“It signifies our shared commitments to excellence, innovation, and the advancement of education in our respective domains”, Foday Augustine Bangura, UNIMAK’s Registrar said Thursday. Bangura said  UNIMAK is dedicated to providing quality education that prepares students for global challenges and opportunities. Hence, the collaboration with the Foreign Service Academy aligned perfectly with their vision of internalization and academic enrichment. The Foreign Service Academy’s expertise in diplomatic training and international relations, he said, was highly commendable.

“Through this partnership, our students will have access to specialized programs, workshops, and resources that will enhance their understanding of global affairs and diplomacy… it is about building bridges of knowledge and understanding. It opens doors for academic exchanges, joint research, projects and collaborative initiatives, that will benefit both institutions and contribute to the development of our society”, Bangura said.

 

Ambassador Soulay Daramy, the Ag. Director General of the FSA recalled that since the institution kicked off nearly a year ago, they have signed several MOUs with international institutions, missions and foreign organizations. But he was excited to state that UNIMAK was the very first local institution of higher learning that the FSA was entering an MOU with particularly that the initiative came from the leadership of UNIMAK. To the ambassador, it showed that the FSA had a position of relevance in society. “Over the years we have seen the records, the academic standing of UNIMAK; we’ve seen the percentage and quality of products that come from UNIMAK. We want this academy to be able to provide the advantage position for people of those sorts”, he said.

The ambassador said he was hopeful that the partnership with UNIMAK would provide students of UNIMAK’s Department of Political Science and International Relations the upskilling, polishing and professional training they will require to make them become good foreign service officers.

He encouraged other universities or academic institutions to partner with the FSA.

Ambassador Daramy said the FSA was not a primarily an academic institution. It is a skills-based institution backed by academic qualifications. He said the Foreign Service Academy was established primarily to train and upskill Foreign Service officers in the country and to provide training facilities and opportunities for Sierra Leonean diplomats or people who wish to have any activities in the international space.

But those were just the rudiments, Ambassador Daramy said. When in full swing, the academy will have something for everybody since the facility was equipped to offer so much more including the teaching of international languages. For now, the academy offers training in French, Russian, Chinese and Arabic and is developing an e-library in addition to several other resource materials already available at its resource centre.

 

“We are going to have a lot of seminars, lots of workshops. Particularly, we are going to have topical master classes – classes that will involve public speaking, dining properly, dress etiquettes, general protocol and the behaviour of people in public spaces. These will be essential for the upcoming students we produce?, he clarified. He said students from UNIMAK in the political science department who wish to pursue careers in diplomacy stood to benefit a lot from the array of learning opportunities the FSA will be providing in the future.

For now, the FSA offers Basic, intermediate and advanced level courses in diplomacy in addition to lessons in Arabic, Russian and Chinese.