By Amin Kef Sesay
Seasoned diplomat and former UN Executive Representative to Sierra Leone, Michael von der Schulenburg was awarded the Grand Commander of the Order of the Republic at State House by President Julius Maada Bio on the 23 January 2020. The President bestowed the prestigious award on him for his exceptional contribution to sustainable peace and democracy in the country.
Mr Schulenburg’s appointment by the UN Secretary General in 2009 as Executive Representative for the organisation’s first fully Integrated Peace Building Office in Sierra Leone, UNIPSIL was linked to a plethora of accumulated and diversified range of professional experience; covering virtually all aspects of United Nations activities – from development assistance to humanitarian aid and managerial reforms, and from combating illicit drug trafficking to conflict resolution and political affairs.
While receiving the award at State House, Mr Schulenburg said that he is both honoured and excited to be a recipient of the prestigious award. He said that the recognition was the greatest honour he had received in life, especially coming from Sierra Leone, which was his last posting. He noted that the country was one of the few in the world which had been successful in its peacebuilding process.
“This is a great honour and a sign of confidence from a people and a Government and for which I and my family are proud. Sierra Leone is on the right track and I wish you all the best and successes for the future,” he said.
In his response, President Bio congratulated Mr Schulenburg on receiving the award, saying that it was no surprise that he deserves the honour for his contributions to the country. He said that the former UN diplomat came into the country at a critical period and was able to support the country’s democratic process for which Sierra Leoneans were grateful.
Born in Germany on October 16, 1948, Mr Schulenburg holds a master’s degree in economics from the Free University in Berlin and additional studies at the London School of Economics and the Ecole Nationale d’Administration in Paris.
Besides his work in Sierra Leone, his 30-year long and distinguished career with the United Nations was displayed in various challenging positions in different countries including Afghanistan, the Balkans, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Pakistan, the Sahel, Somalia and Syria. Mr Schulenburg was also Director with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Vienna.