New York

12 February 2015

Deputy Secretary-General's Remarks at High-Level Meeting of the Group of Friends of Security Sector Reform [As delivered]

It is a pleasure to be with you here today.

I am grateful to the co-chairs, Minister Lajcák of Slovakia and Ambassador Mamabolo of South Africa and the Group of Friends for the opportunity to discuss with you the important issue of Security Sector Reform. 

This meeting is timely, as we in different ways are now collectively reflecting on the strategic direction the United Nations will take over the coming decade and beyond.

In April 2014, with support from more than 40 Member States, the Security Council unanimously passed the landmark resolution 2151, the first ever stand-alone resolution on security sector reform.

This highlights the broad political support for such reform and its links to crisis management, post-conflict stabilization and sustainable development.  

I recall the words of Ambassador Ružicka about the relationship between peace, development, human rights and, indeed, rule of law.

The 2011 World Development Report presented a compelling argument.

It stated – and I quote – “Weak institutions are particularly important in explaining why violence repeats [itself] in different forms in the same countries or subnational regions.”

According to the report, some 35 per cent of businesses in Latin America, 30 per cent in Africa, and                27 per cent in Eastern Europe and Central Asia identify crime and violence as a major obstacle in their work.

It is therefore natural and appropriate that States are increasingly investing in security.

Yet security spending alone, without good governance and the rule of law, does not necessarily result in higher levels of safety and stability for citizens, countries or regions.

Nor does it necessarily enhance development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The UN’s role in supporting security sector reform is both technically demanding and politically challenging.

It is worth pointing to the pioneering work of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in this area. 

Sixteen peacekeeping operations are currently providing a range of services -- from helping to train and equip police services in Liberia and defence forces in the Central African Republic, to strengthening security sector governance in Somalia. 

Our experience has repeatedly shown that security sector reform must be fully accepted and embraced within a country.  It cannot be imposed by the international community.  Commitment from the host governments is absolutely critical.

Institution building must be anchored in national political ownership, as it has been in Guinea, under the leadership of the President.

In Guinea, the UN Peacebuilding Fund allocated $12 million to security sector reform to successfully support a difficult political transition.

In contrast, in South Sudan, there is no broad-based political agreement on security sector reform or on how to pull the country back from the abyss.


Too often, infighting among the political elite, and corruption and human rights abuses by rogue elements of the security forces, undermine trust in the political leadership and the rule of law.  This, far too often, contributes to a relapse into conflict.
I see four cross-cutting priorities to secure the full implementation of resolution 2151 and address the challenges that governments face in security sector reform.

The first one is to secure political commitment and leadership by incorporating security sector reform into the good offices of SRSGs and other senior UN leaders.

Second, security sector reform should be better integrated with other critical peacekeeping and peacebuilding tasks, including Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration and the reform of justice institutions.  The police, military, political and other components all have a responsibility to work together to fulfill security sector reform mandates.

Third, we need to expand our reach, by deepening and broadening partnerships, especially with organizations such as the European Union and the African Union, as well as NGOs and academia.

And fourth, we should strengthen the capacity of the United Nations’ and Member States to monitor and evaluate support for security sector reform.  We need to understand both what we are doing well and where we need to rethink our approach.  

I look forward to hearing the views of the ongoing High Level Panels on Peace Operations and Peacebuilding on how the United Nations can meet these challenges.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me close by reflecting on the connection between security sector reform and the post-2015 agenda.

The agreement on the Millennium Development Goals in 2000 spurred an unprecedented level of international cooperation around a commonly-agreed vision and set of goals.

Joint action towards the MDGs in the years since has also shed light on the challenges we face in reaching our aspirations.

One of the lessons we learned is that violence, weak institutions and flaws in the rule of law are serious obstacles to sustainable development.

Inclusive and accountable security institutions, which uphold the rule of law and respect human rights, are a necessary element for sustainable development.
I therefore welcome the initiative of the Group of Friends to further explore the nexus between security, development and human rights, in preparation for the              UN Summit at the end of September on the post-2015 agenda.  I also look forward to marking the 15th anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.
In so doing, I encourage this Group to call on the joint expertise of the Inter-Agency SSR Task Force, which brings together fourteen United Nations entities under the joint leadership of DPKO and UNDP.
Security sector reform, good governance, the rule of law and accountable institutions are all critical components for the safe and sustainable future that we are all striving for.

I wish you a fruitful discussion and look forward to the continued engagement of the Group of Friends on these important matters which have such an important impact on peoples’ lives.

Thank you.