Sierra Leone is the latest country to take advantage of the facilities offered by the Commonwealth Small States Office in Geneva.
Conveying the good wishes of Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, the Manager of the small states office, Anuja de Silva, welcomed Sierra Leone to the Commonwealth family in Geneva and looked forward to a long and productive partnership.
The small states office provides a base for delegations visiting Geneva and enables them to establish a diplomatic presence in the region for bilateral accreditation in Europe and to the many multilateral organisations in the city, including the World Trade Organization, the World Health Organization, the UN Human Rights Council, and the International Labour Organization.
Maldives, Solomon Islands, and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat arrived as tenants at the Geneva hub earlier this year.
Speaking on behalf of the President of Sierra Leone, the High Commissioner for Sierra Leone to the UK, Edward Turay, said: “Our physical presence here in Geneva provides a truly global platform where the voice of Sierra Leone can be heard and where she can also play a vital role through diplomacy in collaborating with international partners and other nations to help further global peace, security and stability.”
He expressed Sierra Leone’s gratitude to the Commonwealth for recognising the particular vulnerabilities and challenges that have to be overcome by small states.
The Head of the newly opened mission, Yvette Stevens, said a permanent presence in Geneva would allow Sierra Leone to have closer interaction with multinational organisations to help the country address issues such as its health objectives, climate change and food security, and help ensure that Sierra Leone’s interests are taken into consideration.
The Commonwealth Small States Office in Geneva opened in January 2011 following decisions taken by Commonwealth Heads of Government at their summits in Kampala in 2007 and Trinidad and Tobago in 2009.
Plans are under way for the Commonwealth Secretariat to provide tenants with additional support by basing resident technical experts on trade and human rights in the office.