Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Security Sector Reform - Security Council Open VTC

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03-Dec-2020 02:27:11
Security Council updates reform text to address gaps in post-conflict states, unanimously adopting resolution 2553 (2020).

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The Security Council updated a resolution on security sector reform today, adding new provisions aimed at addressing gaps in implementing such transformation in fragile and post-conflict States, with the voting results announced virtually in accordance with the temporary silence procedure* established during the COVID‑19 pandemic.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2553 (2020), the Council reaffirmed the importance of security sector reform in peacebuilding and sustaining peace, including conflict prevention and post-conflict stabilization. The 15-member organ also encouraged Member States to develop context-specific security sector reform strategies that mainstream a gender perspective and increase women’s representation at all levels of the security sector. It also recognized the role that youth should play in contributing to conflict prevention, peacebuilding and recovery.

Today’s resolution is the second on this thematic issue, reflecting the evolving situation since the Council adopted the first – resolution 2151 (2014) –six years ago under Nigeria’s presidency.

Seeking to enhance the ability of the United Nations to perform its role in supporting national security sector reform processes, the Council encouraged the Secretary-General’s special representatives in peace operations to fully integrate security sector reform and governance into their good-offices efforts. Further, it called upon special representatives to consider security sector reform in their efforts to advance peace processes and extend State authority.

Earlier, the Council convened a ministerial-level debate on the subject under the auspices of South Africa, President for December. Members heard briefings from Bintou Keita, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations; Alexandre Zouev, Assistant Secretary‑General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions, Department of Peace Operations; and Smaïl Chergui, African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security.

Ms. Keita said there is bold recognition that security sector governance is a key element of United Nations support to States across the entire peace continuum — from prevention and peacekeeping to peacebuilding and development. For instance, the Peacebuilding Fund invested $21 million from 2017 to 2019 in support of such efforts in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea and Liberia, she noted. Citing a United Nations-World Bank joint study showing the critical importance of security sector reform in preventing conflict, she said such cases are seen in Indonesia, Kenya, Timor-Leste and Tunisia.

Security sector reform should also be part of larger political strategies in such places as Afghanistan, Liberia and Sierra Leone, she continued, emphasizing that such processes are more sustainable when they include women, youth and other minority groups. However, expectations must be realistic as reform is a complex long-term endeavour spanning generations, she cautioned, pointing out that it requires deep understanding of root causes of conflict, sustained political will and balancing the security needs of all stakeholders. “Security sector reform can succeed only when it is part of the wider political process,” she stressed.

Welcoming the alignment of Security Council-mandated tasks to support peace processes, stabilization and civilian protection, she said the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) uses good offices and mediation to advance the implementation of security sector reform under the Algiers Agreement. The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) provides technical and logistical support for the recruitment and deployment of security sector personnel.

She said the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) supports the military justice system while the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) uses good offices and technical expertise to help implement a national reform model. These missions help inject critical capacity in the sector, she added, while cautioning that social contracts remain fragile in many settings, with trust in State security services lacking. She went on to underline the essential need for coordination and close cooperation among partners on the ground, given the complexity of tasks. Citing the cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union, she said it is critical to silencing the guns on the continent. The European Union is also a key long-standing partner, with bilateral projects often the most influential, she added.

Emphasizing that lasting security will remain elusive if processes exclude women and other groups, she pointed out that the sector is largely dominated by men. Inclusive security sector reform requires strong political will to break patriarchal norms, introduce gender-parity quotas and promote women to leadership positions, she said. MINUSCA helped to build facilities for women soldiers while MINUSMA supported the establishment of a victim-centred mechanism to prevent perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence from jointing the Malian army, she recalled. MONUSCO provided support in prosecuting perpetrators of sexual violence, she added.

She urged the Security Council and Member States to optimally position the United Nations in advancing nationally owned security sector reform by recognizing security sector reform as a political process and linking mandates on such undertakings to broader political processes. It is also important to systematically recognize the value of partnership and support inclusive reform, including prioritizing women’s participation in national security services and removing systemic barriers to their recruitment, she said.

Mr. Zouev highlighted United Nations support for peace and sustainable development efforts in 15 countries, citing initiatives in Burkina Faso and the Gambia as catalytic programmes established to increase women’s participation throughout the whole sector. In Yemen and elsewhere, security reform analysis has helped with confidence-building and peace negotiations, he pointed out.

The United Nations has continued to strengthen its cooperation with the African Union and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), among other regional entities, he said, adding that its focal points and other mechanisms ensure coherence in such partnerships. He went on to cite persisting challenges confronting security sector, including lack of capacity in the designated United Nations offices and missions.

Governments and country teams often lack the capacity to maintain reforms carried out under peacekeeping mandates, he continued. Emphasizing the need for donor funds in that regard, he noted that the Peacebuilding Fund and other financial mechanisms can help to fill the gaps. He called for more extensive reporting to the Security Council on security reform by peace operations and other mandated entities.

Mr. Chergui noted that the African Union’s Master Road Map of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by the Year 2020 acknowledges that the failure to transform the region’s defence and security forces into professional national institutions, subject to civilian oversight and control, has often led to the eruption of conflict, perpetuating cycles of violence and disrupting stabilization and peacebuilding efforts.

He went on to state that, since the adoption of the African Union Security Sector Reform Policy Framework in 2013, the regional bloc has continued to help its member States address security sector governance and reform. Reform of national security institutions constitutes a major pillar of the African Union’s Policy on Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development. However, a deficit in security governance constitutes a major cause of most political and armed conflicts in Africa, he said, adding that this explains the inclusion of security sector governance and reform provisions in the texts of most peace agreements and political settlements across the continent.

The African Union helps Member States to develop and strengthen inclusive national policies, strategies and plans, as well as to undertake dialogue aimed at building professional and accountable security institutions. He also highlighted the important role of women and youth in security governance and sustaining peace. The African Union is helping Member States address cultural barriers and related stereotypes that perpetuate women’s underrepresentation in national defence and security forces, he said, pointing to its Operational Guidance Note on Gender and Security Sector Reform.

As the United Nations continues to help stabilize Member States faced with political instability, he said, it is critical that such support deploy available funds to address concrete national priorities rather than administrative overheads. That is a concern that member States have raised to the African Union in various forums, he noted. While grateful for the efforts of international partners in providing concrete support, for the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) joint force, for instance, the need for predictable and sustainable funding for such security support remains a concern, he emphasized, pointing out that security sector governance and reform activities have not been spared the pandemic’s effects. The African Union will continue to adapt its interventions to that unprecedented reality in order to meet the expectations of its member States, he said.

Ministers, Deputy Ministers and other representatives then took the floor.

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