UN Security Council Debate on the Security Sector Reform: Statement by Ambassador Jarmo Viinanen, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations, on behalf of the Nordic Countries, New York, 12 October 2011
Mr. President, Excellencies,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
I would like to begin by thanking the Nigerian presidency for organising this debate. The last time the Council has held a debate on SSR was in 2008. Now it is due time to take stock on the progress made.
We need a balanced and holistic approach to Security Sector Reform to serve the broader aim of sustainable peace and development with a full respect for human rights and rule of law. The link between SSR, conflict prevention and socio-economic development needs to be fully understood.
Weak, overgrown and poorly governed security sectors contribute to fragility. Support to national SSR processes is vital in building effective, accountable and affordable security institutions. These efforts contribute to the timely withdrawal of peacekeeping operations, facilitate early recovery from conflict and help to establish the conditions necessary for sustainable peace and development. SSR is thus part of a broader peacebuilding agenda and an essential aspect of conflict prevention, also in post-conflict situations to prevent relapse into a conflict
The Report of the Secretary General on SSR of 2008 and World Bank Development Report of 2011 highlight the inter-linkages between conflict, security and development. Instability and political and criminal violence repeat themselves in circumstances where the governance is weak and the rule of law and mechanisms to control corruption neglected. Violence leads to an increased risk of conflict, not to speak of its negative effects on development.
All security sector reform efforts should be carried out within the overarching framework of the rule of law and good governance. In this regard we would like to commend the efforts of DPKO’s SSR Unit as well as the Inter-Agency SSR Task Force, which aims to enhance more coherent and coordinated SSR activities/response in the UN system. We encourage the Task Force to continue its collaborative approach. But more must be done. The UN has recently conducted a review of international civilian capacities in which the Senior Advisory Group identified several capacity gaps. Security sector reform and justice sector reform ranked as the most critical ones.
The civilian capacity review has provided a clear set of recommendations to strengthen the UN’s ability to build peace in post conflict societies – not least when it comes to building on and developing national ownership.
Security sector support encompasses complex technical challenges where specialised external expertise may be required to complement national capacities. Moreover, SSR goes beyond critical yet narrow exercises like “right-sizing” the security services or “training and equipping” uniformed personnel. Reforms relate to the combination of effectiveness and accountability in all security structures and processes, including through the development of national security sector strategies, legislation and plans, which enhance the oversight and governance capacities of security institutions. These are inherently political processes, where the main responsibility and ownership can only lie with the national governments.
National governments have the sovereign right and primary responsibility to manage and coordinate the national reform efforts and international support. Strengthening of a truly demand driven approach, on both sides, would solve many of the coordination problems frequently faced.
In our common endeavour to enhance national ownership, I would like to refer to the review of international civilian capacities again. The recommendations of the Senior Advisory Group take national ownership as a starting point, listing several concrete actions to improve national capacities such as procurement, policy framework and mechanisms to manage partnerships, improving of training resources, and establishing of a cluster system.
National ownership should not be reduced to Government ownership. Security and justice institutions are there to serve people, including those who are marginalized and do not easily get their voices heard. Hence the participation of both parliaments and civil society is crucial: non-governmental organisations, faith-based organisations, media and social movements need to be included. The civil society has a key role in peacebuilding and SSR in particular, encouraging governments to open up for dialogue, participation, visioning and public oversight and accountability
Special attention should be paid to the participation of women in planning, leading and implementing security sector reforms. Women are actors and stakeholders in upholding and promoting security and the rule of law. In this regard, we would like to recall the Report of the Secretary General on women’s participation in peacebuilding (2010). The proposed Action Plan offers practical suggestions on how to address present challenges, including in the fields of planning, governance, civilian capacities and the rule of law. These proposals should now be forwarded into concrete implementation in the UN system, and be supported by Member States, regional organizations and international financial institutions. In this regard we take note of the efforts by the Inter-Agency SSR Task Force in developing guidance on gender responsive SSR. We also encourage all actors to make full use of the Gender and Security Sector toolkit, which offers practical guidance.
African countries are increasingly important providers of security sector reform assistance. It would therefore be pertinent to consider a regional approach not only to capacity building, but also to assessments, design of reforms and their implementation. African perspectives on SSR can help adapting SSR tools better to a particular country context and thus contribute to the legitimacy, viability and sustainability of SSR support.
The Nordic countries fully support the African Peace and Security Architecture Initiative, aimed at enhancing the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts in Africa. We also warmly welcome the ongoing efforts of the African Union to develop an AU Policy Framework on SSR in consultation with diverse stakeholders including Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms, African and international SSR experts and African civil society organizations.
To conclude, we believe that the report requested by the Council today on the UN approach to SSR will contribute to the more effective and coherent UN response to SSR. For the UN to continue to provide comprehensive support in this vital area, we must all ensure it receives adequate support.
I thank you, Mr. President.