20 February 2007 United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on the world body to draw upon its own resources and experience in reforming the security sector, as the Security Council underscored the crucial role that security plays in successful peacebuilding and development efforts in countries emerging from conflict.
“Security sector reform embraces values and principles that lie at the core of the United Nations,” Mr. Ban told an open Security Council debate. “The practical involvement of the UN in security sector reform has been shaped by decades of peacekeeping in post-conflict environments.”
In particular, he pointed to four key lessons gleaned from decades of UN peacekeeping missions: the vital nature of security in the immediate aftermath of a conflict; the need for post-conflict countries to take ownership of sustainable security programmes; the importance of strengthening institutions themselves for a durable peace; and the necessity of cooperation among the UN and its various agencies, as well as regional organizations, financial institutions and others.
Speaking at the end of today’s debate, Ambassador Peter Burian of Slovakia, which this month holds the Council’s revolving presidency, said in a statement that the 15-member body “stresses that reforming the security sector in post-conflict environments is critical to the consolidation of peace and stability, promoting poverty reduction, rule of law and good governance, extending legitimate state authority and preventing countries from relapsing into conflict.”
Responding to concerns from some of the more than 30 speakers who spoke during the meeting, the Council statement emphasized that any reforms made in the sector will not impinge on the sovereignty of any State. Mr. Burian said that the Council recognizes that it is the “primary responsibility of the country concerned to determine the national approach and priorities of security sector reform. It should be a nationally-owned process that is rooted in the particular needs and conditions of the country in question.”
The role of the UN will be to promote “comprehensive, coherent and coordinated international support to nationally-owned security sector reform programmes implemented with the consent of the country concerned,” he added.
In addition to speakers representing individual countries, the Council also heard from the heads of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC).
“We should recognize that the United Nations has a comparative advantage over others in this area,” said General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, referring to security sector reform and calling for better coordination of efforts. “It is uniquely positioned, due to its universal legitimacy, to play a leading role in policy formulation and capacity building.”
The recent struggles of post-conflict countries, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burundi, Guinea-Bissau and Côte d’Ivoire, to avoid sliding back into war has highlighted the need for implementation of security sector reforms.