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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2014

UN Security Council | Security sector reform: challenges and opportunities

Statement by Ambassador Jim McLay, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, 28 April 2014.


New Zealand thanks Nigeria for its continued leadership on the issue of Security Sector Reform (SSR); a commitment that’s all the more important because nearly all Council mandated SSR activities take place on the African continent. Nigeria’s perspectives – indeed, the experience of all African States - must therefore be prominent in any SSR policy setting.

New Zealand welcomes today’s adoption of the first-ever stand-alone resolution on SSR.

The Resolution underlines the considerable progress we’ve made since this Council’s first open debate on SSR in 2007. It is progress that has required acknowledgment of the nature and significance of the SSR challenge; it is progress that’s required development of a more comprehensive, coherent and coordinated normative framework; and it is progress that’s required practical operational tools for the UN’s effective work in this area. The engagement of local actors, the importance of close cooperation with regional organisations, the need for involvement of all stakeholders, including women, and the key, underpinning need for a rule-of-law environment are all rightly stressed in today’s Resolution.

SSR is a long-term process, one that requires both concerted commitment from national authorities and sustained engagement by international partners. This Security Council has a critical role in laying the foundations for these efforts; but other bilateral and UN partners also play very important roles – so it’s vital that the Council is able to coordinate more effectively with those actors. SSR extends beyond peacekeeping, and must be considered across the entire peacebuilding continuum.   

SSR challenges occur in a wide variety of settings, from fragile and conflict-affected states with ineffective security sectors, to states emerging from conflict and seeking UN support for the next phase of their development. However, considerable scope still remains for this Council to coordinate more effectively with – and to learn from - regional and UN Country Team partners, to ensure that assistance is tailored to specific national needs and realities, and that gains can be sustained beyond the life of a Mission. The Peacebuilding Commission, with its country-specific configurations, has particular competence in this regard, so the Council needs to find new and better ways of working in close partnership with the PBC.

SSR is often a complex, politically-charged process, entailing significant risk; but, in some situations, it can represent the single most important investment that international partners can make in a country’s future. New Zealand is an active contributor to SSR, particularly in the justice sector, both bilaterally and through UN Missions. That experience has taught us valuable lessons about managing the difficult transition from providing SSR programmes through peacekeeping missions to longer term assistance through bilateral support, as was the case with our policing assistance to Timor-Leste after withdrawal of the UN Mission in 2012.  

For us, that experience also underscored the importance of national ownership as a prerequisite of successful SSR. Indeed, the UN’s discussions on SSR rightly acknowledge that the success of SSR processes depends on the sustained political will of the country concerned.  A core objective must be assisting national political leadership of SSR, and bringing international technical assistance to the national, regional and sub-regional level where local actors can apply it to their unique local context. New Zealand therefore urges that this Council avoid “a one size fits all” approach, and that it should focus on enabling national authorities to undertake their own, inclusive SSR processes.

Recent history demonstrates that no one has a monopoly of wisdom on managing SSR processes. Particularly, we have learned that what works at one time won’t always work at a later time. If SSR fails and there is a return to violence, then the loss of investment by the host country and by the wider international community can be huge. We must all therefore approach the SSR challenge openly and inclusively, constantly reviewing whether the process is working and adapting our efforts accordingly.

Thank you.

 


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Page last updated: Tuesday, 29 April 2014 17:18 NZST