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Security Council Debate on Security Sector Reform

U.S. Mission to the United Nations: Remarks at a Security Council Debate on Security Sector Reform

04/28/2014 01:22 PM EDT


Thank you, Mr. Secretary-General, for your briefing and for your constant efforts to enhance the UN’s support for Security Sector Reform. I also want to congratulate you, Mr. President, Mr. Minister, for organizing this debate on a topic that is central to the Council’s role in preserving international stability and peace. I applaud Nigeria’s leadership on this issue.

My government looks forward to the adoption this afternoon of the Council’s first resolution on the subject, which spells out the need to strengthen our collective commitment to improve governance, with an emphasis on security structures that are better designed, more capable, and more fully respectful of public needs and individual rights.

We all know that basic security is a fundamental civic need. Without it, families live in fear, economic investments are not made, and the rules by which a society can live in harmony are not enforced. Further, the lack of effective security at the national level has harmful transnational impacts. A state without security is a state where terrorists and criminals will thrive, the smugglers of illegal arms and narcotics will base their operations, internal strife may generate a flood of refugees, corruption runs rampant and shortages of food and other resources lead to humanitarian disaster. We cannot forget that public security is a prerequisite for economic and social well-being. Freedom from fear is critical to achieve freedom from want.

It is highly appropriate, therefore, that the United Nations do all it can in partnership with governments and other international actors to support the establishment of effective security structures. This task is especially relevant when a country is in the process of recovery from conflict. The absence of credible security sector reform has had dramatic consequences for such societies. For example, in Liberia, inadequate management of the security sector contributed to a resumption of civil conflict in the mid-90s. The transition from weak or non-existent security institutions to ones that are viable and strong is never easy. That is why Security Sector Reform has become a more important part of UN efforts in post-conflict rebuilding. The creation of effective, accountable, rights-respecting, and sustainable security structures that respond to national needs and priorities is critical to forestall a return to violence. It is also an essential ingredient for the successful exit of UN peacekeeping and special political missions. Last month, the UN was able to conclude twenty years of peacekeeping and political activities in Sierra Leone, in part because improved local security institutions were in place. And Sierra Leone now contributes forces to the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

Too often, approaches to SSR are limited to base training or the building up of individual security units and fail to create security institutions that can effectively manage national forces and be responsive to the complex needs of societies. Reforms to the security sector, for example in places like Mali and the Central African Republic, have to be nested within broader political reforms aimed at national reconciliation and transitional justice. In places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, it is imperative that Security Sector Reform include not only training in military tactics, but also in responding to threats to civilians and guarding against sexual violence in conflict.

In this connection, my government welcomes the development of the Integrated Technical Guidance Notes, drafted by the Security Sector Reform Task Force and including guidance on such critical issues as national ownership, gender-responsiveness, and consistency with democratic principles. This guidance should give rise to a UN system-wide training regimen.

We support the UN’s work with host governments on strategic planning, intra-national dialogues, and the sharpening of oversight capacity. We appreciate the UN’s commitment to acquire the diverse expertise needed to implement its Security Sector Reform programs in countries with specialized requirements, and we’ve seen the benefits of this in the rapid deployment of support to UN missions such as that in Somalia.

Finally, Mr. Secretary-General, we firmly endorse both your emphasis on national ownership of the SSR process and the need for appropriate SSR capacities within UN missions. We will take these imperatives into account when formulating future mandates for UN peacekeeping and political operations. We also share your expressed desire to build stronger partnerships between the UN, regional and sub-regional organizations to support Security Sector Reform in countries recovering from conflict and undergoing transitions.

In closing, I want to thank you again, Mr. President, for presiding over this session and the Secretary-General for his leadership and guidance. Security Sector Reform is one of many topics that come before this Council where the problems are easy to identify yet extremely difficult to solve. We know what a good security system looks like, but we also know that creating one involves a multitude of variables and requires a major investment of energy, resources, and time. Without a strong and enduring political commitment by the state itself, international efforts cannot succeed. But where national partners truly desire progress, we must do all we can to assist them in that quest. Lasting international peace and security and reliable respect for human rights around the world will not be possible without additional meaningful progress on Security Sector Reform.

Thank you all.


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