Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Remarks to the Security Council debate on the role of the Security Council in supporting security sector reform

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Security Council, 20 February 2007

I am pleased to join you for this debate on a theme that lies at the heart of the Security Council's responsibilities in the maintenance of international peace and security and, in particular, in assisting the re-establishment of sustainable peace after violent conflict.  I am grateful to His Excellency Ján Kubiš, Foreign Minister of Slovakia, for bringing us together under this rubric.

Security sector reform is a relatively new term for many of us.  Yet, it stands for issues that have long preoccupied our Organization:  the search for sustainable security, and the recognition that security is also a precondition for setting countries on the path to development.

For the United Nations, security sector reform aims to achieve effective, accountable and sustainable security institutions that operate under a framework of the rule of law and respect for human rights.

In this way, security sector reform embraces values and principles that lie at the core of the United Nations:  commitment to the rule of law; commitment to the protection of human rights; and commitment to the State as the cornerstone of international peace and security.

The practical involvement of the United Nations in security sector reform has been shaped by decades of peacekeeping in post-conflict environments.  From that experience, four fundamental lessons have come to shape our thinking.

First, security is a crucial and immediate condition for peacebuilding after conflict.  A basic degree of security is one of the most visible and immediate dividends for communities, providing them with the opportunity to reclaim their lives and dignity.  In this way, it is also a condition for initiating efforts towards long-term development.

We have learned that the ability of our peacekeepers to provide basic security at an early stage is shaped by how well security issues are addressed in the peacemaking phase.  Today, we have a better understanding of how early decisions in peace agreements -- particularly in the context of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) -- impact subsequent efforts to establish sustainable security structures and processes.  Our aim must be to ensure that peace agreements and DDR programmes contribute to, rather than impede, the restoration of sustainable security.

We are making progress on this front.  We are developing our mediation capacities to support peacemaking and peace negotiations.  And we have elaborated comprehensive, system-wide integrated DDR standards and programmes, which increasingly form an integral component of early peacebuilding efforts.  These early frameworks help lay the groundwork for sustainable security reform.

A second lesson we have learned is that security cannot be restored and maintained in a vacuum.  In supporting efforts to achieve peace, it is vital that we address the needs and perspectives of the State and the communities within it.  National ownership is the key to sustainable peace.

This is why UN peace operations should rest on the principle that there must be a peace to keep.  And it is why the UN's efforts are focused on supporting national authorities in their efforts to establish sustainable security.  We have also come to recognize that national ownership in post-conflict environments is not a static entity.  Rather, it evolves, as leaders and communities are brought into the peacebuilding process.  The wider the scope of local ownership, the more sustainable security will be.

This principle guides our efforts in Kosovo, where the UN family is engaged with a wide range of State authorities and local government entities, and where we are conducting a province-wide consultation on security sector reform.  The purpose of this consultation is to obtain a comprehensive picture of security needs and perspectives -- of the most pressing security concerns for local communities, and how they believe these concerns can best be met.

The same underlying principle has come to shape one of the unique aspects of UN peacekeeping:  that among its contributors are a number of countries that have successfully made the transition from conflict to sustainable peace.  The participation of these troops and police contributors brings valuable insights and perspectives to UN efforts to support national authorities.

The third lesson the UN has learned is that sustainable security goes beyond reintegrating soldiers and units, or training and equipping individual police officers.  We have learned, to our cost, in Haiti, Timor-Leste, Sierra Leone and Liberia, that without effective, well-governed security institutions in place, the maintenance of peace is short-lived.  Sustainable security involves strengthening institutions and processes. It calls for capable management, sustainable funding, and effective oversight.  That is why, in police reform, we no longer focus only on mentoring and monitoring individual police officers.  Through initiatives such as the Standing Police Capacity, we also work to support national authorities in building sustainable law enforcement institutions.  We work closely with interior and justice ministries, with finance and public administration bodies.  And we work with human rights ombudsmen and community groups.

Fourth, and finally, we have learned that building sustainable security after conflict goes beyond the scope of any one actor.  Even in the UN itself, there are many capacities scattered across the system.  We must coordinate these fully as part of an effective response.

But the UN is only one actor.  To build sustainable security, many others must be engaged:  Member States, regional organizations, Bretton Woods institutions and others, each of which brings specific insights and expertise.  All these diverse efforts are needed, even if the combination of actors and tasks will differ in each context.  And all of them need to be carefully coordinated.  In many countries, the UN supports national Governments with such coordination.  Because of its universality and legitimacy, the UN has a particular contribution to make.

I am heartened that the Security Council has taken note of these lessons.  Increasingly, peacekeeping mandates reflect the perspectives of security sector reform.  Examples of tasks covering current UN peace operations include:  taking forward security sector reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; carrying out institutional reforms and the constitution of integrated security forces in Burundi; strengthening Sierra Leone's security sector; and supporting the restructuring of the Defence and Security Forces in Côte d'Ivoire.

From now on, our overall task must be to ensure that UN peacekeepers are provided with the guidance and support they need to carry out these tasks effectively and efficiently.  We must provide peacekeepers with the standards, guidance and training they need to provide consistent and quality assistance to national authorities.  We must ensure mission leaders have the knowledge and staff expertise to direct personnel in carrying out complex support tasks.  And we must provide capable and responsive support to field missions in security sector reform, in accordance with Security Council mandates.  Finally, we must closely coordinate UN support for security reform in post-conflict environments with ongoing efforts to develop integrated peacebuilding strategies.  I look forward to working with all Member States in pursuit of this important goal.

Mr. President, again, let me express my appreciation for your initiative in holding this debate, and for the thorough way in which Slovakia has prepared for it.  Let me also thank the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom for convening an Arria formula meeting on this topic last week.  Above all, I am grateful to all of you for your commitment to discharging effectively the serious responsibilities facing this Council.