Our Perspectives

Peaceful Societies Need Security Reforms


Police officers in HaitiIn Haiti, UNDP has contributed to the professionalisation of 2,700 people in areas critical for recovery and development, including vocational training for all judicial actors (judges, registrars, police officers).

For societies to be inclusive, they need to be peaceful and safe for all. They need to be safe for those who most need protection. They need to be safe for women.

Last week, the Group of Friends of Security Sector Reform (SSR), and its Slovakia and South Africa co-chairs, convened a meeting to discuss how national governments can enable reform, with the United Nations supporting them in their efforts.  

In April 2014, with support from more than 40 Member States, the Security Council unanimously passed the first-ever stand-alone resolution (2151) on security sector reform.  This highlights the broad political support for such reform and its links to crisis management, post-conflict stabilization and sustainable development.

The latest report of the Secretary-General on SSR emphasizes community and citizen security.  This is where we see strong linkages to the post-2015 Development Agenda and where Member States, within the context of the Open Working Group, have placed rightful emphasis on violence reduction and accountable, responsive governance.

2015 marks the 10 year anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.  Security for women is part of our quest for gender equality.  We continue to see unacceptably high levels of sexual violence in situations of conflict and high criminality and, regrettably, some of the perpetrators are members of the security forces themselves.  For many women in the world, law enforcement agencies are no friends, offering no protection or security.

This needs to change. Only a few tarnish the uniform of the many.

True national ownership of security sector reform means that ordinary women and men have a voice in defining security needs in their own communities. It means that they are proud of their police, and trust them with their lives. The security sector therefore has to become more transparent and accountable to the people it is meant to protect.

The rule of law requires the UN to work with Civil Society and Parliaments to increase public oversight of the security sector.  Equipping and strengthening security forces while putting in place robust oversight creates a security sector that is less vulnerable to incompetence, corruption and impunity.  The UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson rightly points out that security spending alone, without good governance and the rule of law, does not necessarily result in higher levels of safety and stability for citizens, countries or regions. Nor does it enhance development.

We in the UN System would like to urge Member States to work even more closely with us in these endeavors through the Global Focal Point (GFP) structure that the Department for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and UNDP have put together (for police, justice and corrections sectors in post-conflict and other crisis situations). Drawing upon a past history of collaboration, the overall aim of the GFP arrangement has been to respond more quickly and effectively to rule of law needs.

For our part, UNDP will continue to accelerate support to meaningful and durable security sector reforms as a foundation of peace and development.

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