The Mano River Union (MRU) and the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) have signed a Strategic Framework of Cooperation for Peace and Security.
The signing comes at the end of a three-day Joint Sub-regional Action Planning Meeting of the MRU and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The Framework outlines areas for joint activities to promote peace, security and stability within the sub-region, in the context of the overall United Nations support to sub-regional and regional organizations.
Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General of UNOWAS, Ruby Sandhu-Rojon says the Strategic Framework will strengthen collaboration among member states in the implementation of activities on election related violence, human rights, gender mainstreaming, conflict prevention, and security sector reform among others.
"If you don't know where you want to go, any road will take you there”, said Rojon
She urged over 35 delegates from the four Mano River Union Countries-Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Liberia to work closely to achieve peace and stability within the region and pledged the UN's commitment.
The Head of the MRU Secretariat Medina Wesseh stressed that the Framework buttresses efforts by member countries to take appropriate measures aimed at achieving stability and economic development.
Ms. Wesseh stressed collaboration in actions needed for sustainable peace and development, democracy and economic viability critical to enhancing regional stability.
At the same time, Internal Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf on behalf of the Liberian Government, expressed appreciation to UNDP, the MRU and the UN System for the level of cooperation.
"Keeping the peace is cardinal to stability within the sub-region" Minister Varney stressed.
He emphasized the need for a close eye on up-coming elections in Guinea and Ivory Coast which is key to peace and security within the Mano River Union Basin.
Earlier, the Resident Representative of UNDP in Sierra Leone Sam Doe noted that it was universally imperative that Countries in the sub-region are not left behind in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Other Speakers including the UN Resident Coordinator Kinsley Amaning, the Head of ECOWAS Ambassador Ajisombo and Representatives from MRU Countries and the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, urged stakeholders to leave no stone un-turned in fully implementing the activities under the framework and ensuring commitment to all legal obligations enshrined.
Stakeholders also highlighted mobilization of adequate resources for the full implementation of programs under the Framework.
Group discussions at the three-day Planning Meeting focused on four key areas; Civil registry, vital statistics and Identity management; Consolidating democracy especially election processes; Maritime with a focus on "Blue Economy" and Internal Affairs-cross border issues.
The meeting is in furtherance of a MoU between UNDP and MRU on the core principles of the SDGs to ensure stronger regional cooperation among MRU Member States and UNDP in areas of mutual cooperation.
It is also aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of their development efforts, as well as to strengthen regional integration to advance peace and security and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Mano River Union Member States.
UNDP and MRU share similar visions and have worked together on various missions and initiatives over the past years.