Opening Remarks by UNDP Lesotho Resident Representative
National Stakeholders Conference for the Development of the National Security Policy
January 13, 2023
I am very pleased to be here with you today and wish to acknowledge those assembled here for this important event. I would like to congratulate the Ministry of Justice, Law and Parliamentary Affairs and the National Reforms Transitional Office for taking us to the next stage of development of a National Security Policy and National Security Strategy for Lesotho. I take note of the high prioritization of and political commitment of this process as signified by the presence of both the Right Honourable Prime Minister and Honourable Deputy Prime Minister at the opening ceremony.
These consultations could not have been held at a better time – during the 16 days of activism against gender based violence, which this year, we commemorate under the theme “UNITE! Activism to end violence against women and girls”. So in unity – as we gather here to advance the preparation of the National Security Policy & Strategy – we - the security sector institutions, related institutions, media, community members, our voice, your voice and my voice – together, we shall end GBV.
If you permit Honourable DPM, may I propose that we stand up to observe a minute of silence in memory of all the girls, boys, women and men – who have lost their lives to GBV, and show solidarity with those still struggling with this vice, and to whom this Strategy and Policy will play a key role in ameliorating their condition.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, you may recall the very well-articulated and complementary comments by the PM and DPM. In confirming that security sector reforms are a national priority, the Right Honourable Prime Minister highlighted 9 points including: need for effective and adequately resourced institutions; that uphold democratic principles and respect for human rights, are accountable and transparent; that are non-discriminatory and treats everyone equally; and; one build on complementarity/partnerships including the need to work with different partners including AU, SADC, UN, EU and other partners.
In her remarks, the honourable DPM underscored the Lesotho We want characterised by: national ownership (hearts and minds of individuals; communities; government; media; CSOs, security sector institutions – each and every one of us); an all-inclusive Lesotho where no one is left behind in the marathon we are running, if we are to finish the race. The DPM also emphasized enhanced accountability/no corruption by all and for all as key in the marathon as would be investment in all aspects, including allocation and efficient use of resources. She also underscored the role of partnerships – all of us together in this marathon.
I was made aware of the deliberations of the workshop over the last few days, and I wish to congratulate you all for staying on course.
It is very encouraging to note that the workshop participation took forward these aspects of the PM and DPM’s speech – for instance, to broaden participation/partnership, giving opportunity to a diverse range of civil society organisations to have input to this first-ever National Security Policy and Strategy. I understand you all gave your best during the consultations, in line with the intent and spirit of the National Security Policy and Strategy. This reinforces the increasing global awareness that consulting the people on security issues is not to be feared but to be embraced and speaks to the DPM”s point of national ownership of the Lesotho We Want.
I note with appreciation, the general agreement during the last two and half days that the Strategy & Policy are long awaited and heading in the right direction. But this is just the beginning. If I may use the DPM”s analogy of the marathon - the task ahead of us all is huge as the Strategy and Policy need to be finalized and implemented – including through strengthening of relevant existing institutions, establishing others that would complement existing ones to help the deliver the vision of the Lesotho we want, and doing all these in a transparent, accountable, multisectoral and coherence way.
Several of you highlighted the need for continuous monitoring and evaluation of the sector and the Policy and Strategy, which I endorse. I am happy to report that the UN/Lesotho National Security Sector Reform for Peacebuilding Project will be supporting the NRTO and the security sector agencies to develop a strategy for monitoring of your reforms, in the coming months. This way, we will be able to assess progress we are making in the ‘marathon’ and make necessary cause corrections, to get to our vision – the Lesotho We want. Further, an independent evaluation of the Project will also be undertaken between December and March 2023 when the Project closes.
I was informed that many of the speakers, and rightfully so, were concerned about the lack of resources for day-to-day operations, let alone reforms and development, training or retraining. An under-resourced security sector will clearly struggle to perform its mandated role and, worse, is a potential threat to stability.
Undoubtedly due to the global and regional context, there is a shift of priorities to some countries/issues e.g., war in Ukraine, violent extremism in some parts of the continent, with impact on overall ODA to countries such as Lesotho. So, what then – noting that under-resourced security sector will not perform its roles. The answers lies in the comments by both the PM ad DPM at the beginning of this workshop – national ownership with appropriate budget allocations (informed by the recent undertaken Public Expenditure Review supported through this project; more importantly, using the allocated resources efficiently, in a transparent and accountable manner so as to attract funding from different including domestic private funding; international private funding, funding from development partners/international public funding etc – such partnerships are key.
As part of our support, UNDP is supporting the Government to define a Development Financing Strategy that seek to estimate the overall funding for financing development needs in Lesotho and provide strategies for effective mobilization of innovative financing sources, and how to best utilize and manage the existing sources of development financing.
Another strategy for addressing the resource constraints that you are rightfully concerned about, is fostering complementarity between security sector agencies and strengthening linkages with relevant institutions including the judiciary, private security companies, media and even communities (recall the comments by DPM on ownership), for community policing or similar initiatives. I am therefore glad to note that these issues of coherence and complementarity were made during these stakeholder consultations.
Let me underscore the strong links, echoed here this week, between economic hardship and security and criminality. This highlights the point about ensuring linkages with other sectors or national priorities e.g. to reduce unemployment and poverty as this is a hugely important investment for national security and individual safety. Employment and economic alternatives to a life of crime will reduce the costs of security, business losses and of course the human suffering that it causes. In the words of a former UN Deputy Secretary-General – Mr. Jan Eliasson: “There can be no peace without development, no development without peace, and no lasting peace or sustainable development without respect for human rights and the rule of law.”
Equally key in addressing the resource constraints is evidence – data and statistics to show progress of our efforts in the security sector reforms, point to gaps and acceleration initiatives. In this regard, UNDP echoes the call by numerous speakers during the workshop for better statistics and mapping to inform security sector development and encourage international development assistance.
Many of you stressed inclusiveness, not just in consultations but in planning, deciding and implementing initiatives like the National Security Sector Policy. UNDP strongly endorses this call, particularly for the most vulnerable in society for it is upon them that the impact of a good, or bad, policy will be most heavily felt. Please be open minded about those groups who you might not necessarily agree with: Per the Bishop’s comments: we should leave no one behind - regardless of their gender, sexuality or religious beliefs, and may I add ‘abilities’, so that all including PWDs are included.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I conclude by echoing one of the comments made during the conference “We can have the best laws and policies in the world, but they are for nought without the political will and adequate resources to implement them.” With these two documents and the political will evinced, we will certainly achieve our goal.
Honourable Deputy Prime Minister, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it would be remise of me if I did not express our sincere gratitude to the Government for the commitment they have shown to the taking forward the Security Sector Reforms and National Reforms in general. I would also wish to thank your Ministry and the NRTO for leadership in this process, and the UN Secretary General's Peacebuilding Fund, for providing the financial resources that have enabled us together, lay the foundation for the country’s security sector reforms through the development of the Security Sector Policy and Strategy.
Finally, and equally important, I wish to thank all the participants for their active engagement at these consultations as well as the media for taking the messages out of here to the Basotho and the world – together you have helped take forward our dream of the Lesotho We want.
Kea leboha haholo, bo ‘M’e le bo Ntate.
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