Security Council highlights critical role of professional police, military in peace efforts

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) addresses the Security Council open debate on security sector reform. Foreign Minister Aminu Wali of Nigeria, Council President for April, is at right. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

28 April 2014 – The United Nations Security Council today called on countries emerging from conflict and all those assisting them to prioritize the development of domestic police and national defence forces that maintain rule of law and respect human rights, in its first-ever stand-alone resolution on security sector reform.

Stressing that it is the sovereign right and the primary responsibility of the countries concerned to reform their security institutions, the Council, through the resolution, encouraged the UN and other international partners to strengthen their approach to training and other assistance, and to integrate it with other efforts to help rebuild national institutions.

At the start of a day-long debate on the topic, chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, which holds the Council’s April presidency, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that current crises show what happens when security services lack training, governance and basic capacities.

“Earlier this month, I visited the Central African Republic and saw the terrible consequences of disintegrating security institutions,” Mr. Ban said, explaining that the purpose of security sector reform is, simply put, “to make people’s lives safer.”

He noted that the UN has already supported national security strategies in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Liberia, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But he warned that there is an increasing gap between the growing expectations of what the UN could and should do, and the resources needed to meet them.

Mr. Ban reaffirmed some of the principles of security sector reform outlined in his latest report on the issue, including the linkage between security efforts and broader processes of political and institutional reforms in the countries in question.

“Strengthening operational effectiveness must be combined with efforts to build a strong governance framework, robust accountability and oversight mechanisms, and a culture of integrity and respect for human rights. National ownership is imperative,” he said.

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