SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT EMPHASIZES SECURITY SECTOR REFORM ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF POST-CONFLICT STABILIZATION, RECONSTRUCTION

12 May 2008
SC/9327

SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT EMPHASIZES SECURITY SECTOR REFORM ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF POST-CONFLICT STABILIZATION, RECONSTRUCTION

12 May 2008
Security Council
SC/9327
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

5889th & 5890th Meetings (PM & Night)

SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT EMPHASIZES SECURITY SECTOR REFORM

ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF POST-CONFLICT STABILIZATION, RECONSTRUCTION

Secretary-General Says Report Proposes Straightforward, Pragmatic Measures

To Help Make United Nations Approach to Issue Less Piecemeal, More Holistic

Emphasizing that security sector reform was an essential element of any stabilization and reconstruction process in post-conflict environments, the Security Council this afternoon reiterated that the process was the sovereign right and primary responsibility of the country concerned.

In a statement read by this month’s Council President, John Sawer ( United Kingdom), the Council recognized that the establishment of an effective, professional and accountable security sector was one of the necessary elements for laying the foundations for peace and sustainable development.  Although it should be a nationally owned process, rooted in the particular needs and conditions of the country in question, the strong support of the United Nations and the international community was also critical in strengthening national capacities.  In that regard, the Council emphasized the need to develop a holistic and coherent United Nations approach to security sector reform, as recommended by the Secretary-General in his report on the issue.

The Council underlined that United Nations support for security sector reform must take place within a broad framework of the rule of law.  Support should take place in coordination with all relevant United Nations actors, in particular the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group, to ensure coherence of approach.  The Council also emphasized the important role of the Peacebuilding Commission in ensuring continuous international support to countries emerging from conflict.

The Council requested the Secretary-General to continue to include, wherever appropriate, recommendations related to security sector reform in his periodic reports on United Nations operations.

Presidential statement S/PRST/2008/14 was read after Council consultations and following an earlier meeting on the issue, in which the Council heard from the Secretary-General, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Slovakia, who had introduced the subject in the Council in February 2007, the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of South Africa and the representative of Japan in his capacity as Chairperson of the Peacebuilding Commission.

In his address to the Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the United Nations had a rich and varied experience in what had come to be known as security sector reform.  What had been lacking, however, were a common framework and a coherent system-wide approach.  There was a need to strengthen the ability to provide consistent, well-coordinated and high-quality technical advice during peace processes and in peacekeeping, peacebuilding and development.  The approach should be less piecemeal and more holistic.

He said that, in his report submitted at the request of the Council following the February 2007 debate, he had proposed a number of straightforward and pragmatic measures, namely developing United Nations technical guidelines and training in the areas of security sector reform; strengthening field capacity, as well as capabilities and expertise for central backstopping; enhancing coordination and delivery of support for security sector reform; and establishing a compact support unit at Headquarters.

Ján Kubiš, Slovakia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, said reforming the security sector was critical to the consolidation of peace and stability and preventing countries from relapsing into conflict.  It was one of the most critical elements of long-term efforts of laying the foundation for peace consolidation.  Often, it was also a crucial component of an exit strategy for United Nations peacekeeping operations.

Noting that there was a growing need for adequate capacity within the United Nations system to be able to respond more effectively to the request of individual Member States for support for security sector reform, he strongly supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations to establish clear field mechanisms for coordination and implementation of security sector reform mandates, as well as a United Nations inter-agency security sector reform support unit.

Susan van der Merwe, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of South Africa, noted that security reform was an important pillar for both security and sustainable development.  In that light, security sector reform must include marginalized groups, in particular women.  Problems in security sector reform arose because there was no universally accepted code of conduct or policy guidelines.  Thus, there was a need for an enhanced United Nations role in facilitating a coordinated approach to security sector reform, in which the cooperation and consent of the State involved was central.

As Chairperson of the Peacebuilding Commission, the representative of Japan said experience had shown that security sector reform required long-term, predictable and sustained support from the wider international community.  A coordinated, coherent and integrated approach was indispensable in addressing the multifaceted nature of security reform, requiring a wide range of national and international actors with diverse expertise and taking into account the close link with such matters as rule of law, good governance and gender perspectives.

The speakers addressed the Council during the first meeting of the afternoon, which began at 3:05 p.m. and adjourned at 3:45 p.m.

The president read his statement during the second meeting, which took place from 6:45 p.m. until 6:50 p.m.

Presidential Statement

The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2008/14 reads as follows:

“The Security Council recalls the statement by its President of 21 February 2007 (S/PRST/2007/3) and emphasises that security sector reform is an essential element of any stabilisation and reconstruction process in post-conflict environments.  The Security Council recognizes that the establishment of an effective, professional and accountable security sector is one of the necessary elements for laying the foundations for peace and sustainable development.

“The Security Council welcomes the Secretary-General’s efforts on security sector reform and takes note of his report entitled “Securing Peace and Development: the role of the United Nations in supporting security sector reform” of 23 January 2008 (S/2008/39).

“The Security Council commends Slovakia and South Africa for their joint initiative in holding the International Workshop on Enhancing United Nations Support for Security Sector Reform in Africa on 7-8 November 2007, and takes note of the letter dated 20 November 2007 from the Permanent Representatives of Slovakia and South Africa (S/2007/687).  The Security Council encourages further similar activities.

“The Security Council recognizes that security sector reform is a long-term process and reiterates that it is the sovereign right and primary responsibility of the country concerned to determine its national approach and priorities for 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 Security Council underlines that the strong support of the United Nations and international community is also critical in strengthening national capacities, thereby reinforcing national ownership, which is crucial for the sustainability of the process.

“The Security Council recognizes the important role that the United Nations has played in supporting national security sector reform efforts and underlines the need for its continued engagement.  In this regard, the Security Council emphasises the need to develop a holistic and coherent United Nations approach to security sector reform, as recommended by the Secretary-General, in close consultation with Member States.

“The Security Council underlines that United Nations support to security sector reform must take place within a broad framework of the rule of law and should contribute to the overall strengthening of the United Nations rule of law activities, as well as wider reconstruction and development efforts.  This will require coordination with all relevant United Nations actors, in particular the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group, to ensure coherence of approach.

“The Security Council emphasizes the important role that the Peacebuilding Commission, through its integrated peacebuilding strategies, can play in ensuring continuous international support to countries emerging from conflict.  The Security Council also recognizes the importance of continued close cooperation and partnerships with non-United Nations actors, in particular regional, subregional and other intergovernmental organizations, including international financial institutions and bilateral donors, as well as non-governmental organizations

“The Security Council requests the Secretary-General to continue to include, wherever appropriate, recommendations related to security sector reform in his periodic reports on United Nations operations mandated by the Security Council.”

Background

When the Security Council met this afternoon to consider the role of the Security Council in supporting security sector reform, it had before it a report of the Secretary-General entitled Securing peace and development:  the role of the United Nations in supporting security sector reform (document A/62/659-S/2008/39), which states that lessons learned over the past 60 years have illustrated that security, development and human rights are preconditions for sustainable peace.

According to the report, Member States are the primary providers of security, which contributes to the protection of human rights and sustainable development.  The task of the United Nations is to support national actors in achieving their security, peace and development goals.  To that end, the development of effective and accountable security institutions on the basis of non-discrimination, full respect for human rights and the rule of law is essential.

“Security sector” is a broad term often used to describe the structures, institutions and personnel responsible for the management, provision and oversight of security in a country, including defence, law enforcement, corrections, intelligence services and institutions responsible for border management, customs and civil emergencies.  Non-State actors that could be considered part of the security sector include customary or informal authorities and private security services, according to the Secretary-General in his report.

Security sector reform describes a process of assessment, review and implementation, as well as monitoring and evaluation lead by national authorities that has as its goal the enhancement of effective and accountability security for the State and its peoples without discrimination and with full respect for human rights and the rule of law.  It should be a nationally owned process that is rooted in the particular needs and conditions of the country in question.   Security sector reform goes beyond traditional military elements and involves a much wider range of national and international institutions and actors, the report goes on to say.

The report states that the starting point for a coherent and consistent United Nations approach to security sector reform is the articulation of core guiding principles based on lessons learned, international law and standards, and existing United Nations policies on the broad rule of law.  The goal for the Organization should be to support States and societies in developing effective, inclusive and accountable security institutions, so as to contribute to international peace and security, sustainable development and the enjoyment of human rights by all.  A United Nations approach to security sector reform must be flexible and tailored to the country, and should be gender-sensitive.

A security sector reform framework is essential in the planning and implementation of post-conflict activities, and must include a clearly defined strategy, priorities, indicative timelines and partnerships, according to the report.  Coordination of national and international partners’ efforts is essential, as are the monitoring and regular evaluation against established principles and specific benchmarks.  The role of the United Nations in security sector reform could include elaborating policies and guidelines; establishing an enabling environment; conducting needs assessment; strategic planning; facilitation of national dialogue; technical advice; coordination; capacity-building; and monitoring.

The report states that, following system-wide consultations, the need to create a United Nations inter-agency security sector reform support unit was identified and its terms of reference outlined.  The unit would help to bring together the diverse existing and anticipated capabilities of United Nations actors and build on accumulated experiences.  It could provide a strategic policy development and backstopping capacity for the United Nations system, and would be hosted by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.  The proposed technical and specialist support unit could provide strategic guidance to security sector reform processes, generate best practices and guidelines, cooperate with relevant United Nations mechanisms, including the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group, and serve as a focal point for partners.  Adequate financial resources will also be necessary for the development of United Nations capacity in security sector reform.

Other practical recommendations that could lead to the development of a holistic and coherent United Nations approach include the development of security sector reform policies and guidance, as well as for strategic advisory and specialist capacities, and the designation of lead entities for the delivery of effective support for security sector reform.  The Secretary-General concludes by stating that there are no quick fixes for establishing effective and accountable security institutions.  The development of strategies, structures and capacities is a time-consuming effort.  The evolution of perspectives, dialogue and understanding is, equally, a long-term process.

The Security Council last addressed security sector reform during a thematic open debate on 20 February 2007.  (See Press Release SC/8958)

Briefings

United Nations Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON said security sector reform was central to the Organization’s commitment to supporting national authorities and peoples in re-establishing sustainable peace.  As the current month marked the sixtieth anniversary of United Nations peacekeeping, he noted that maintaining international peace and security remained a daunting challenge for the Organization.  Member States remained the central providers of security for States and their populations, but it was the responsibility of the United Nations to determine how best to support Member States in delivering enduring security through effective institutions.

Mentioning operations in Angola, Mozambique, El Salvador, Cambodia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Haiti and Timor-Leste, he said the United Nations had a rich and varied experience in what had come to be known as security sector reform.  Too often, the Organization had remained an ad hoc partner for national and international stakeholders.  What had been lacking were a common framework and a coherent system-wide approach.  There was a need to strengthen the ability to provide consistent, well-coordinated and high-quality technical advice during peace processes and in peacekeeping, peacebuilding and development.  The approach should be less piecemeal and more holistic.

He said the report before the Council, the product of broad consultations with Member States, regional groupings and organizations, research centres, academic institutions and non-governmental organizations, as well as within the United Nations system, defined security sector reform as a process of assessment, review and implementation, as well as monitoring and evaluation, led by national authorities.  The goal was strengthening the effective and accountable security of a State and its people, underpinned by respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Underscoring a few key principles that would guide the Organization’s approach, he said Member States had recognized the need for a coherent, system-wide approach to security sector reform and the need to avoid duplication by creating new frameworks.  The report proposed a number of straightforward and pragmatic measures, namely developing United Nations technical guidelines and training in the areas of security sector reform; strengthening field capacity, as well as capabilities and expertise for central backstopping; enhancing coordination and delivery of support for security sector reform; and establishing a compact support unit at Headquarters.

Those priorities represented the minimum, he said.  Beyond those, developing effective and accountable security institution was more than just a goal.  “It is our shared obligation, especially in countries recovering from conflict […] central to our ability to create an interrelated system of rapidly deployable capabilities, operating under the United Nations Charter.”

JÁN KUBIŠ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Slovakia, reminding Council members that security sector reform had been adopted by his country as the priority of its work as a Council member in 2006-2007, said the Secretary-General’s report was an important milestone in systematising and strengthening United Nations support to security sector reform.  Both the General Assembly and the Security Council should address the report within the scope of their prerogatives.

He said reforming the security sector, particularly in post-conflict environments, was critical to the consolidation of peace and stability and preventing countries from relapsing into conflict.  It was one of the most critical elements in long-term efforts of laying the foundation for peace consolidation.  Often, it was also a crucial component of an exit strategy for United Nations peacekeeping operations.

Noting that there was a growing need for adequate capacity within the United Nations system to be able to respond more effectively to the request of individual Member States for support for security sector reform, he strongly supported the recommendations to establish clear field mechanisms for coordination and implementation of security sector reform mandates, as well as a United Nations inter-agency security sector reform support unit.

Highlighting several principles in the area of security sector reform, he said national ownership and leadership could not be overemphasized.  It was the sovereign right and the primary responsibility of the country concerned to determine the national approach and priorities of security sector reform.  Also, no effort should be spared in achieving a holistic, coherent and comprehensive United Nations approach to security sector reform.  There was a need to define basic principles and guidelines, which should be elaborated on the basis of the existing best practices and lessons learned.  There was also a need for continued United Nations capacity-building, through strengthening the inter-agency approach, including in creating an inter-agency security sector reform support unit.

He said that, since the open Council debate on the issue in February 2007, tangible progress had been achieved in introducing security sector reform into the agenda of relevant United Nations bodies.  There had been a very positive response to the Slovak initiative to create a United Nations group of friends on security sector reform, which now had more than 30 members.  The Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations had had a fruitful discussion on the report in March.  The Peacebuilding Commission had included security sector reform in its agenda.

Together with South Africa, Slovakia had organized the workshop on enhancing United Nations support to security sector reform, held in Cape Town, South Africa, on 7 and 8 November 2007.  Not only had the workshop contributed to efforts aimed at developing a security sector reform concept based on specific and unique African experiences, it had also been instrumental in ensuring a wider and more systematic approach to security sector reform from important regional and subregional partners.  Emphasizing the importance of a bottom-up approach to security sector reform processes within the United Nations, he said those needed to be demand-driven and tailored to the specific needs and conditions of the countries or regions concerned.

SUSAN VAN DER MERWE Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of South Africa, said the African experience pointed to the fact that security sector reform was not an event, but a process that required continuous attention and political will and must be nationally owned.  Therefore, whatever approach was adopted had to be country-specific.  Last year’s seminar in Cape Town had shown, in addition, that reform must transcend the purely military conception, to include the political, cultural and socio-economic dimensions, as well.

In other words, security reform was an important pillar for both security and sustainable development, she said.  In that light, security sector reform must include marginalized groups, in particular women, and it was important that it be conducted in close partnership with the United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations.

The case of Sierra Leone, she said, highlighted the importance of clear political commitment and leadership, as well as long-term support and a wide consultative process, while the case of Guinea-Bissau showed the challenges associated with implementing reform under severe resource constraints.  In other areas, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there was political will on the part of partners, but the lack of coordination undermined its effects on the ground.

Such problems arose, she said, because there was no universally accepted code of conduct or policy guidelines.  Thus, there was a need for an enhanced United Nations role in facilitating a coordinated approach to security sector reform, in which the cooperation and consent of the State involved was central.

YUKIO TAKASU (Japan), Chairperson of the Peacebuilding Commission, said that ensuring security was a precondition for any peacebuilding effort in countries emerging from conflict and it was essential to strengthen local capacity in that sector through effective reform with the assistance of the international community.  Such reform was a priority area in both the Sierra Leone and Burundi peacebuilding frameworks.

Sierra Leone, in particular, had been widely viewed as an example of successful security sector reform, he said.  Its cooperation framework contained specific commitments on the part of the Government to review the conditions and terms of service of its armed forces, to reduce their size and to provide training to improve police and community relations.  As a result of those activities, the report by the Chair of the Sierra Leone country-specific configuration described impressive progress.  International partners would highlight the issue at the upcoming stakeholder’s consultation on 19 May, and would seek additional support for continued reforms.

In Burundi, he said, efforts had focused on the reorganization of the army and the police and the demobilization of combatants.  The recent worsening of the security situation showed that continued international support was critical to lay the foundation for effective peacebuilding efforts.  In regard to Guinea-Bissau, a Peacebuilding Commission mission last month had agreed that the country’s security sector reform plan was a key to stability.  The Peacebuilding Fund played a catalytic role in supporting various security sector reform initiatives in all three countries.

In light of the Commission’s work, he said it was clear that security sector reform must be a nationally owned process.  In addition, experience had shown that such reform required long-term, predictable and sustained support from the wider international community.  Finally, a coordinated, coherent and integrated approach was indispensable in addressing the multifaceted nature of security reform, requiring a wide range of national and international actors with diverse expertise and taking into account the close link to such matters as rule of law, good governance and a gender perspective.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.