Professional police and military have a critical role in peace efforts


The United Nations Security Council has called on countries emerging from conflict and all those assisting them to prioritise development of domestic police and national defence forces that maintain rule of law and respect human rights, in its first-ever stand-alone resolution on security sector reform.

Stressing it is the sovereign right and the primary responsibility of the countries concerned to reform their security institutions, the Council, through the resolution, encouraged the UN and other international partners to strengthen their approach to training and other assistance and to integrate it with other efforts to help rebuild national institutions.

At the start of a day-long debate on the topic last week, chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, which holds the Council’s April presidency Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said current crises show what happens when security services lack training, governance and basic capacities.
“Earlier this month, I visited the Central African Republic and saw the terrible consequences of disintegrating security institutions,” he said, explaining the purpose of security sector reform is, simply put, “to make people’s lives safer”.

He noted the UN has already supported national security strategies in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Liberia, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But he warned there is an increasing gap between the growing expectations of what the UN could and should do, and the resources needed to meet them.

Ban reaffirmed some of the principles of security sector reform outlined in his latest report on the issue, including the linkage between security efforts and broader processes of political and institutional reforms in the countries in question.
“Strengthening operational effectiveness must be combined with efforts to build a strong governance framework, robust accountability and oversight mechanisms, and a culture of integrity and respect for human rights. National ownership is imperative,” he said.

The Secretary-General’s remarks are in line with those made by his deputy, Jan Eliasson. In November he said “security sector reform has become central to the work of the UN in reducing violence, addressing transnational organised crime, promoting human rights and contributing to overall stability”.

An indication of the growing importance of security rector reform enjoys at the world body comes with it being mentioned 14 times in resolutions taken in 2008. Four years later this figure grew to 37.