Delivered By: Ambassador Mohamed Abushahab, Deputy Permanent Representative
I thank Mozambique for taking the initiative to organize this meeting, which is long overdue. Improving security sector governance is a key feature in the Action for Peacekeeping Initiative, Our Common Agenda, and the African Union’s Silencing the Guns initiative, and of course in many peace operations mandated by the Security Council. I also thank Assistant Secretary-General Zouev and AU Commissioner Adeoye for their valuable briefings, and I welcome the participation of South Africa and Slovakia in this meeting.
A security sector based on the rule of law, integrity, and accountability can provide the bedrock for a resilient country. Ideally, it supports stability, helps to address external and internal threats, and responds to the needs of the people in moments of emergency. For countries emerging from conflict, an effective, inclusive, and accountable security sector is a precondition to sustain peace. While failed security sector governance has contributed to the resurgence of conflict in the past, successful efforts have enabled peacebuilding and reconciliation. For instance, in the 1990s, South Africa leveraged security sector reform to cement peace at home. Security sector governance considerations remain a critical priority in a broad range of situations, from Mali to South Sudan, and from Colombia to Guinea-Bissau.
I would like to make three points here today in order to help move this agenda forward.
First, security sector reform must be nationally owned and led. While international actors can play a critical role to help set up frameworks and to support their implementation, these have to be co-designed with the priorities of national stakeholders at the center. Peace operations eventually end and aid programs get redirected, so it is critical that international engagement focuses on strengthening national capacities and supporting context-specific solutions.
The “governance-focused approach” suggested by the Secretary-General in his latest report on this issue provides a useful framework that can encapsulate the perspectives of a broad array of stakeholders. In order to be effective, these strategies must consider the social and cultural norms that, in addition to formal legislation, enable successful and context-specific reform efforts.
An inclusive approach is vital in the context of peacekeeping transitions to ensure that the UN can continue to provide adequate support. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, MONUSCO has worked with the Congolese government, local partners, and regional organizations to integrate security sector reform into the government’s national action plan. As the peace operation draws down, national institutions will be able to drive this process forward to consolidate hard-won gains with support from the UN country team.
Second, the security sector cannot be “gender neutral” because the impact of insecurity is not “gender neutral”. Not only do we need to increase the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women in national security sectors, but the Council should also include gender-related language in its mandates on security sector reform. We must use the unique opportunity that security sector reform provides to strengthen both female representation and the implementation of gender-responsive regulations and policies. This will lead to better, and more sustainable, outcomes.
And third, security sector reform is an eminently political process, not only a technical one, and must be considered as such. We often see mediation efforts discussed in this chamber that differentiate between political and security tracks. That approach only works if there is open communication between the diverse set of stakeholders negotiating the different arrangements.
Too often, peace agreements fail to be implemented because outstanding security-related issues remained unresolved, or because they were left to finesse by follow-up technical committees. Political buy-in is essential, and the logistics of processes including Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration, or Security Sector Reform, must closely follow the political lead. As the Secretary-General encourages us to do in his report, this approach will support the consolidation of sustainable political conditions that underpin successful security sector reform.
To conclude, let me take a moment to celebrate the efforts of the many women and men in uniform that are decidedly contributing to peace and stability. The UAE is proud to host the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak WPS training initiative. Since 2019, this program has contributed to more gender-responsive national security sectors with over 500 participants from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. As an Iraqi cadet recently said to a journalist upon her graduation, and I quote: “I joined this training course because this was the first time Iraqi female officers got to train abroad…I believe I can make a difference”. End of quote.
As a Council, let us harness that optimism to make a difference and consolidate peace after conflict.
Thank you, Mr. President.