Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the high-level round table on security sector reform and sustaining peace, in New York today:
It is a pleasure to join the President of the General Assembly and the many distinguished panellists and guests here today. I thank the Group of Friends of Security Sector Reform for convening this round table.
United Nations support to nationally driven security sector reform is grounded in the conviction, expressed by the Security Council, that “an effective, professional and accountable security sector without discrimination and with full respect for human rights and the rule of law is the cornerstone of peace and sustainable development and is important for conflict prevention”.
The Council has translated this understanding into mandates in more than 15 peacekeeping and special political missions since 2007. It also figures prominently in the Sustainable Development Goals, and in particular Goal 16 on peaceful and inclusive societies, and effective, accountable and transparent institutions.
Establishing and strengthening security is also peacebuilding and State‑building goal 2 of the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States. In short, security sector reform is a core element of the prevention and sustaining peace agendas.
Many States grapple continuously with the challenge of developing professional and accountable security sectors. In developing countries and countries emerging from conflict, reform is both essential to stability and a difficult process to manage.
However, in many post-conflict settings the links between security institutions and the people they must serve have been deeply ruptured. It is essential that we help to build this connection, without which we cannot move forward towards sustainable peace.
The process requires financing. Enhanced governance structures, specialized expertise and equipment, assessment and training capacities, and infrastructure are often needed.
At its heart, security sector reform is about ensuring safety and enabling women, men and children to live their lives free from fear, go to school, go to the market, and walk on the street at any time without having to worry about attacks, criminal assault or other forms of violence.
Looking ahead, allow me to highlight two main points. First, addressing security sector reform challenges during peace processes contributes to stabilization efforts.
In contexts, such as the Central African Republic, Iraq, Mali and Somalia, the United Nations will continue to support inclusive national policies, strategies and dialogue aimed at building professional and accountable security institutions that better protect civilians, including women and children. We will also work for stronger international coordination and commitment by regional and subregional organizations, as well as bilateral partners.
Second, security sector reform is a preventive measure. When citizens benefit from security, the rule of law and socioeconomic inclusion, they are less likely to resort to violence to obtain redress for their grievances. In response to growing Member State requests for support, the United Nations is deploying security sector reform advisers in settings such as Burkina Faso, the Gambia and Lesotho.
Through these advisers, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Department of Political Affairs, Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Peacebuilding Support Office are working jointly to build up capacity, coordinate partners and provide strategic and technical advice to Governments, including by facilitating national security dialogues and the establishment of national security councils and national reform processes.
Security sector reform is a vital undertaking. I call on the United Nations system, Member States and partners to ensure that we have the necessary tools, capacity and political support to advance nationally led efforts as a core element of sustaining peace across the peace continuum.