What's In Blue

Posted Sun 27 Apr 2014

Adoption of the First Stand-alone Resolution on Security Sector Reform

Tomorrow (28 April) morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hold an open debate on security sector reform (SSR) with the Secretary-General expected to brief and Foreign Minister Aminu Wali of Nigeria expected to chair the meeting. The outcome will be the Council’s first-ever stand-alone resolution on SSR.

It seems that the negotiations were arduous. The first draft was circulated to the wider membership of the Council by the penholder (Nigeria) a week before the open debate, limiting the timeframe for discussions. There were three rounds of negotiations, some lasting more than seven hours. The draft went into blue yesterday (26 April) afternoon.

The draft resolution recognizes that SSR should be a nationally-owned process. In this respect, it recalls the sovereign right and the primary responsibility of the states concerned to determine their respective SSR approaches and priorities.

While noting the support provided by bilateral and regional actors to SSR, much of the draft resolution focuses on the key role of the UN system in SSR. In the draft, the Council resolves to continue promoting the role of the UN Secretariat in supporting SSR. In recognition of national ownership of SSR processes, it stresses that UN mission planning processes relevant to SSR fully consider supporting national SSR efforts. The draft resolution also notes the key role that UN police are capable of playing in supporting national police reforms, and in coordinating international efforts to facilitate such reforms.

The Council also makes several requests of the Secretariat in the draft resolution. Among other things, it requests the Secretary-General: to develop additional guidance to help UN officials in delivering on mandated SSR tasks; to highlight updates on progress in SSR, where relevant, in reporting to the Council; and to ensure that assistance related to SSR takes into account the operation of Security Council-mandated arms embargoes.

The draft also reaffirms how an effective, professional and accountable security sector without discrimination and with full respect for human rights and the rule of law is the cornerstone of peace and sustainable development. (A proposal from an elected member to underline the importance of an effective vetting process to exclude from the security sector perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law was dropped in the last round of negotiations.)

In part, the long negotiating sessions were attributable to difficulties a permanent member had with the draft. Even though the first draft relied heavily on agreed language from previous Council statements, it also included new language, largely taken from the Secretary-General’s 13 August 2013 report “Securing States and Societies: Strengthening the UN Comprehensive Support to SSR” (S/2013/480). It seems this permanent member did not want to welcome the report in the resolution (it ended being “noted with appreciation”), challenging the proposal that SSR had to be mainstreamed within peacekeeping operations and special political missions if the Council does not include SSR in the respective mandate. Many of the changes in the final version of the draft resolution had to do with the inclusion of qualifiers in order to narrow the resolution to situations where the Council’s mandates already include SSR. Also omitted from the version in blue was a request to the Secretary-General to further develop guidance on the inter-linkages between SSR and other important factors of stabilisation and reconstruction.

In spite of these omissions, there were also several amendments incorporated in the text by various Council members at different stages of the negotiating process that are included in the version expected to be adopted. In the preambular part of the resolution, language was added, for example, noting the key role of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund in supporting SSR, as well as asserting the importance of close coordination on SSR between Security Council-mandated missions and the UN Country Team.

There were also amendments made to the operative part of the resolution. For example, paragraphs were included in the version that went into blue that underscore the importance of ensuring women’s full, equal and effective participation in SSR and encourage member states to mainstream child protection when undertaking SSR.

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