Hailing the lifting of sanctions against Liberia, the country’s Vice President today said the measures had been viewed as corrective – not punitive – by the country’s people.“My Government welcomes and highly appreciates the recent decision of the Security Council to lift sanctions which it saw fit to impose on the timber and diamond sectors in Liberia,” said Joseph Nyumah Boakai.“Although the imposition of sanctions was considered by many as punitive, I am gratified to inform you that the Liberian people viewed the sanctions as prudent and corrective,” he told the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate.He also welcomed the Council’s recent decision to extend the mandate of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), saying that in spite of the gains of peace following 14 years of civil war, the country remains fragile. Joao Bernardo Vieira, the President of Guinea-Bissau, also voiced appreciation for the UN’s help for his country. He cited in particular the Ad Hoc Consultative Group of the Economic and Social Council.For its part, Guinea-Bissau is determined to strengthen the role of the United Nations in promoting peace and development worldwide, he said.Mr. Vieira also spoke about the problem of drug trafficking in Guinea-Bissau, despite the political will of the Government to tackle the problem. “It can only be eradicated through international cooperation,” he said, appealing to States that had experience in combating drug trafficking and organized crime to assist. “We welcome the efforts of the UN system to establish an international network for the eradication of this scourge,” he said.Zarifou Ayeva, the Foreign Minister of Togo, looked to upcoming legislative elections in the country as a turning point in the country’s history. He thanked international and other partners who helped Togo reach this point, especially the UN Development Programme (UNDP), which he said played an important role in preparations for the polls.Currently, the country is engaged in a fight against impunity, and in this effort is enjoying the support of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, he said, voicing appreciation for its role in bolstering the Government’s efforts.The Prime Minister of Guinea, Lansana Kouyaté, described the political crisis that his country faced earlier this year, and also voiced appreciation for the assistance of the international community in restoring stability. At the same time, he urged all countries of good will with the means to help to assist Guinea in carrying out its plan to consolidate these gains throughout the country.Looking to the broader international context, he urged measures to combat poverty, saying it should be declared “illegal” throughout the world. Collective efforts to eradicate poverty would be the best way to guarantee peace, he said.Beyond the West African region, the Vice Prime Minister of Burundi said his country is endeavouring to restore stability. Despite the non-participation of the FNL, the Government remained open to all proposals aimed at fostering a return of the rebel group to the peace process.Looking back on the darker chapters of the country’s history, he said Burundi is now working with the UN Secretary-General to establish a truth and reconciliation commission.“We will soon engage in national consultations on the question and the conclusions should constitute a solid basis for the creation and functioning of this body,” he said.He also issued a strong call for action against small arms and light weapons which he said cause widespread destabilization. In Africa’s Great Lakes region, these arms have been responsible for death and the destruction of infrastructure, he said. 27 September 2007Leaders from West African countries working to consolidate peace and build democratic institutions today voiced appreciation for the support of the United Nations and its agencies in this endeavour.