What's In Blue

Posted Wed 19 Aug 2015

Briefing on Security Sector Reform

Tomorrow morning (20 August), the Security Council is scheduled to hold a briefing on Security Sector Reform (SSR) at the initiative of Nigeria. The briefers are expected to be Dmitry Titov, the Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions in DPKO; Director of the Crisis Response Unit of the UN Development Programme Izumi Nakamitsu; Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura and Ambassador Richard Galbavý, Deputy Permanent Representative of Slovakia and co-chair of the Group of Friends of SSR. The briefing is expected to focus on the way the UN system, particularly the Council, has so far implemented resolution 2151, which was adopted on 28 April 2014 (during Nigeria’s previous presidency), as well as to identify next steps to ensure appropriate Council attention to this issue. No outcome is anticipated following the briefing.

Nigeria has focused on SSR as a thematic issue during both its current and previous (2010-2011) terms on the Council, taking on the drafting of resolution 2151 and a presidential statement (S/PRST/2011/19) as well as the organisation of two open debates (in 2011 and 2014) and tomorrow’s briefing.

Resolution 2151, the first stand-alone resolution on SSR, recognised that SSR should be a nationally-owned process. It recalled the sovereign right and the primary responsibility of the states concerned to determine their respective SSR approaches and priorities. The concept note circulated by Nigeria ahead of the meeting (S/2015/614) highlights how the UN has faced challenges in securing national authorities’ (including transitional entities) commitment to holding national dialogues on SSR; forging a common national vision for security; and developing national security policies, strategies and plans. These are areas that Titov is expected to expand on. Council members might want to discuss the possibility of including SSR considerations in the development of a compact to establish a common framework with the host state where peace operations are deployed. This would enhance cooperation and establish procedures to address differences, including on SSR, between the host state and the UN peace operation. This compact is an idea that the Council first discussed at its annual retreat with the Secretary-General in April and it seems DPKO is developing this further.

The concept note argues that SSR is a political process, as much as a technical one. Keeping in mind the need to fully understand and be responsive to the political context the UN is operating in, Council members might want to give their views regarding the need to balance concrete operational support tasks such training and providing equipment, with wider institutional change and governance issues.

Arguing that the security sector can be the greatest spoiler of peace, the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) recently advocated for a more effective and coordinated support to SSR, a process in which it suggested the UN can and should play a convening and coordinating role. Indeed, while noting the support provided by bilateral and regional actors to SSR, resolution 2151 focused on the key role of the UN system in SSR. Among other things, it requested the Secretary-General to develop additional guidance to help UN officials in delivering on mandated SSR tasks and to highlight updates on progress in SSR, where relevant, in reporting to the Council. In their statements during the meeting tomorrow, Council members might follow-up on this and request the Secretary‐General to provide regular updates on UN support to SSR in his country-specific reports, as well as to submit a plan of action for the implementation of resolution 2151. (The last report of the Secretary-General on SSR was released on 13 August 2013 [S/2013/480].)

Resolution 2151 reaffirmed 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. Some Council members might choose to highlight the impact of SSR in delivering effective protection of civilians’ mandates. Along these lines, some Council members might raise the importance of balancing strong vetting practices for human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence (such as the human rights due diligence policy) with SSR objectives which respect national ownership in post-conflict settings.

When resolution 2151 was being negotiated, language regarding the mainstreaming of SSR in peace operation mandates was opposed by at least one permanent member. However, the concept note states that since April 2014, the Council has adopted no less than 20 country‐specific resolutions mandating ten peace operations to implement an increasingly wide range of SSR tasks. While highlighting the greater acceptance of addressing SSR in the Council’s country-specific work since the adoption of resolution 2151, some Council members might choose to echo the HIPPO’s call to better prioritise and sequence mandates. Furthermore, the concept note’s point that UN support to SSR must start early, well before the deployment of a peace operation, including during international mediation efforts at the outset of peace processes may be taken up by some members.

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