Rebeca Grynspan: Remarks at the Ministerial Conference of the Central Asia Border Security Initiative (CABSI)

Apr 16, 2012

Remarks by Rebeca Grynspan
U.N. Under-Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator
On the occasion of the Ministerial Conference of the Central Asia Border Security Initiative (CABSI)
Vienna, Austria, 16 April 2012

Distinguished Federal Minister of the Interior of Austria, Ms Johanna Mikl-Leitner;
Mr Lamberto Zannier, Secretary General, OSCE
Mr Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC
Mr Dirk Meganck, Director for Asia, Central Asia and Pacific, at the European Commission;
Distinguished members at the dais,
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen

I am pleased to participate in this Ministerial Conference of the Central Asia Border Security Initiative. I want to thank specially the Government of Austria for hosting us today and the rest of the members and partners of the CABSI as well as the organizers of this first ministerial conference for their continuous support and excellent partnership.

To develop a comprehensive and sustainable integrated border management in order to improve border security, facilitate trade and promote economic development continues to be a very important initiative for Central Asia.

Integrated border management implies that the borders should be open for legitimate trade and flow of people while at the same time, borders should be protected against criminal and illegal activities jeopardizing stability and security in a particular region. In the case of Central Asia as well as in many other parts of the world, only when borders are both ‘secure’ and ‘open’, there can be prosperity, stability and security and a better integration with the rest of the world. We know that many times well managed open borders can be a lot safer than sealed ones.

In that regard, regional cooperation is critical for Central Asia’s development and security. Cross-border trade and migration can foster positive development and contribute to significantly reduce poverty, while social tensions, or tensions around trafficking of drugs and arms, or natural resources (land and water) and corruption can hamper development. Local challenges cannot be resolved without cooperation among neighbouring countries and comprehensive international support in establishing efficient border management mechanisms and fostering cross-border cooperation. For us in UNDP, border management is as much a security issue as it is a development challenge of great significance, so rooting enhanced security in the development agenda is key. It is critical that the development opportunities that are generated through better border management are not only perceived by Government but reaches ordinary people, including those living in both sides of the border areas, and that growth generated there results in jobs, especially for youth, and in improvements in basic social services. Human Development, as we call it in UNDP, has to be broad based and needs to spread widely across communities and households in order to contribute to peace and sustainable security.

Since 2002, Central Asian Governments and all donors associated with border management  come together under the auspices of this annual CABSI Conference to maximize political support for the Border Management programme in Central Asia funded by the European Union and implemented by UNDP.

BOMCA promotes a paradigm shift in border management, from a militaristic approach -that these days may be both expensive and impractical where large borders are involved - to one which combines security with openness, complementing security with more cross-border trust-building, people-to-people exchange, information sharing, professionalization and local human development.

The underlying strategy of this BOMCA programme is to bring about institutional reform, enhance professional skills and build capacities through the training and exposure of Central Asian Border institutions and Customs leadership to European best practices in border management. The philosophy behind CABSI is to bring together major stakeholders around this strategy, as it is the case here in Vienna, to enhance coordination and partnerships, prioritisation and integration.

The European Union and UNDP continue to promote the overall objective  of border management through BOMCA, which is building capacity for development of harmonized and coordinated border management strategy and institutions, thereby improving cross-border cooperation and facilitating the flow of persons and goods between the Central Asian countries.

We are currently working on integrating our border management work more closely with our local development programmes from which we have many successful examples in nearly all of Central Asia. The Tajik-Afghan Poverty Reduction Initiative is a good example of this. On both sides of the Tajik-Afghan border, we are working with the communities, supporting them to obtain the means for sustainable livelihoods and development, as well as engaging with one another. Through our Aid for Trade programme, we provide training and financial services for traders in the border areas and along transport corridors. Investments in micro-hydro energy and other alternative energy projects further contribute to human development in underserved border areas. Together with local development, conflict prevention, cross border cooperation in natural resources  management and disaster risk reduction are also important aspects of our cross border management development approach.

The CABSI’s role has gone far beyond the framework of the information exchange platform. CABSI is not just another event. It has proven itself to be a very effective mechanism for sustained stakeholder dialogue and coordination of international efforts on border management in Central Asia.

At today’s meeting, among other issues, we are going to discuss the results achieved in border management and security in Central Asia during the past years, the coordination amongst Central Asian states and international stakeholders as well as possible follow-up activities to further promote border management and security.

We still have important challenges to overcome, as are ongoing border delimitation and demarcation, resource constraints, tension in border areas, limited cross-border movement, and obstacles to trade. There are also emerging security and development threats adding to the complexity of the region.  But I am confident that with our joint efforts and the strong commitment of every country participating in this initiative further progress will be achieved and measured very soon.  

Allow me to reinstate UNDP’s full commitment with this process, and highlight the importance to keep this multi-partner platform to scale up the results this initiative has had over the past 10 years.

Security,  and development are two faces of the same coin. I hope this conference continues to provide an important framework to discuss, prioritize and unite our efforts towards progress in Central Asia border management.

I thank you again for the invitation to participate and wish you all success in the conference proceedings.

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