Commander Hassan J. Conteh of the Naval Wing representing Sierra Leone in the Mano River Union (MRU) has told officials that the cross-border and trans-boundary institution enjoys the benefits of proximity between the four nations. He said the MRU sub-region is rich in natural resources; human and mineral resources in the sub-region that constitutes about 25% of the world’s forest cover and almost all of the Rivers in West Africa have sources from the MRU sub-region. “The MRU was saddled with civil conflict that forestalled its progress and efforts are being made to get the sub-region on a sound development trajectory. In pursuance of that the Member States and its partners in 2000 decided to have a joint protocol to address the issues of peace and security with a collective approach. They further endorsed the MRU Cross-border Strategy for Peace and Security which was developed in partnership with ECOWAS/UNDP/UNOWAS.” Commander Conteh said the 15th Protocol is the Peace and Security Architecture of the MRU and one of its main objectives is to create a platform to facilitate constructive exchanges to address all issues of human and state security. He said the Protocol has three layers, that allows for a top-down and bottom-up flow of information. The Establishment of Joint Border Security and Confidence Building Units between or among adjacent border communities is the third layer of the 15th Protocol. “The MRU in 2012 decided to establish 40 border units as a pilot project with support from UNDP, UNIPSIL, UNOWA, AfDB etc. To date the MRU has established 38 border units and has contributed tremendously to the consolidation of peace and building confidence in the border communities.” The Commander averred that the MRU intends to evaluate the outcome of the first pilot project of the JBSCBUs initiative and present findings and recommendations to the Joint Security Commission. The aim is to encourage further initiate deep insight, review and deliberate on the concept of the Border Units and presents contemporary ideas on how its operations can modify and its achievements or results integrated into the systems of the national security apparatus of the Member States. He said the general objective is to strengthen the capacity of the Border Units and make them operational and efficient, which is to organize a mission to the relevant authorities on Peace and Security in the Member States; also organise eight consultative meetings of the border units in cluster of five, close communities and to map and analyse the border units in the MRU Member States. “MRU JBSCBU is to support the establishment of a data base that will serve as a repository of vital information to design a proposal on how to popularize and integrate the concept of the JBSCBUs into the Security Mechanism of the Member States.” “Member States are well informed about the JBSCBUs, and have taken into account the JBSCBUs into national policies with mechanisms of monitoring and evaluation that has been identified. Border units are operational and efficient with data base on the functioning of border units established to mapping conducted and data base establishment.” Commander Conteh said consultations and meetings of JBSCBUs in clusters of close communities may be five per cluster making a total of eight clusters and they will hold meetings with partners working on areas such as environment, trans-national organized crime and trafficking of persons with small arms and light weapons, disaster and risk reduction management.
Thursday March 14, 2019.