Global perspective Human stories

Security sector reform depends on national will and capacity, UN report says

Security sector reform depends on national will and capacity, UN report says

Jean-Marie Guéhenno, USG for Peacekeeping Operations
Security sector reform in any country will not succeed unless there is commitment, leadership and capacity from key figures and institutions in that State, a new United Nations report says.

The Secretary-General’s report, Securing Peace and Development: the role of the United Nations in supporting security sector reform, stresses that while the UN has much experience helping nations reform their security sector, “there are no quick fixes for establishing effective and accountable security institutions” and any effective strategy would depend on willing and able national partners.

“Where a genuine will to build effective and accountable security does not exist or where there is no basic agreement between national actors on the objectives and the approach for national security arrangements, the potential contribution of the United Nations – and other partners – is limited at best,” according to the report.

But it says the UN can contribute by elaborating basic principles and standards and by ensuring there is responsible and sustained international backing for the efforts of struggling countries to reform their security sector.

“By virtue of its mandate, legitimacy and presence, the United Nations can support national actors, particularly in post-conflict environments, to make informed security choices that are conducive to long-term development, sustainable peace and democratic governance.”

The report notes that the UN is already helping many countries, especially through its mediation, peacekeeping, peacebuilding and development functions.

It also recommends the formation of appropriate field capacities at the UN to ensure more coherent and integrated implementation of security sector reform, the designation of lead entities for the delivery of effective support and the development of strategic advisory and specialist capacities.

The landmark report has been prepared following requests last year from the Security Council and General Assembly and is the result of consultations with regional groups and other stakeholders inside and outside the UN system.

Marking the report’s release, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno said the UN’s support of security sector reform has until now been largely ad hoc.

“We need to build a system-wide approach, as well as the capacities and resources required to deliver this support,” he said.

Assistant Secretary-General Kathleen Cravero, Director of the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery at the UN Development Programme (UNDP), said the UN has learned that security sector reform (SSR) will only work if it based on the rule of law, human rights and gender equality.

“Effective governance and civilian oversight of the security sector are essential,” she added.

Kemal Dervis, the Administrator of UNDP, noted that security issues should no longer be viewed as the exclusive concern of security professionals.

“We know now that an inefficient and unaccountable security sector can be a major obstacle to democratic governance and can undermine the implementation of poverty reduction strategies,” he said.

Assistant Secretary-General Dmitry Titov of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) said a new phase in UN support for SSR “could help us all to accelerate much-needed reforms in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Haiti, Timor-Leste and other post-conflict societies.”