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12 October 2011 - Security Council
Security sector reform - Statement by Mr. Martin Briens, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

UN translation

I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for having convened this debate and I welcome this momentum, begun in West Africa and beneficial to the entire continent. Security issues are among the major challenges to the building or rebuilding of a State if it is to be sustainable and respect the rule of law. Security sector reform (SSR) is therefore a useful tool both for peacebuilding and for conflict prevention in Africa. It promotes governance that respects democratic values and human rights. It also makes possible an environment conducive to reconstruction and development.

SSR is particularly necessary for countries emerging from crisis. It involves the guaranteed payment of wages, return to barracks, setting up an effective disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programme, and helping demobilized combatants through reintegration or retirement plans. It also entails establishing a judicial system that holds security forces accountable for violations of human rights or international humanitarian law.


The Security Council has integrated SSR into many of the mandates it has given to peacekeeping operation in Africa. In Côte d’Ivoire, support for SSR is one of the highest priorities of the mandate of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire, reconfigured by resolution 2000 (2011) in July. The challenge is considerable there, because we must help two armies to merge and to train and equip itself.


Success in that endeavour will be a critical factor for long-term peace in Côte d’Ivoire. To be successful, SSR absolutely requires national ownership and strong political will. A political reform by its very nature, SSR cannot be imposed from the outside, but rather depends on strong national commitment. It requires an inclusive national dialogue.


The international community can facilitate, encourage and provide follow-up to the process, but it cannot replace the partner State, national actors or civil society.


The international community has been involved in SSR in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since the year 2000. It is crucial that the Congolese Government prioritize its needs, adopt and formulate texts that define reform, and then implement them.


The United Nations has a role to play in encouraging national ownership of SSR. The transfer of security responsibilities from a peacekeeping mission to national authorities is a complex process. As Liberia prepares to solidify its democratic roots with the presidential election of 11 October, we must make sure that the Government actively engages in SSR, especially in forming a police force, as the United Nations Mission in Liberia progressively draws down.


The international community must continue its support for SSR in Africa. We must place greater emphasis on the intimate link between SSR and DDR programmes. Too often, the failure of SSR is a result of incomplete or poorly managed DDR programmes undermining the implementation of SSR. Bitter social divisions that result from the impunity of security forces or the lack of reconciliation mechanisms are also risk factors.


More broadly, SSR programmes must also address the fundamental question of people’s will to live together — an especially acute problem in post-conflict situations. In Libya, the new authorities have grasped this very well and have asked for United Nations assistance with SSR. It is our collective responsibility to support them in restoring order and ensuring respect for the rule of law.


Lastly, SSR programmes require funding that is lasting and diversified. Bilateral support, the Peacebuilding Fund and international organizations such as the World Bank must all be solicited for funds. The European Union (EU), for its part, has been a major presence in this sector in Africa for years. In Somalia, in close cooperation with the African Union Mission in Somalia, the European Union has been training the security forces of the Transitional Federal Government. It has also intervened in the Democratic Republic of the Congo through its mission to provide advice and assistance for security reform and its Police Mission In Kinshasa, to promote military and police reform in that country. The European Union is also active throughout the continent through the EURORECAMP programme, which helps the African Union to train its standby forces.


In a national capacity, France supports SSR training, mainly through the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces. It has also deployed many experts to various European operations in Africa and on other continents. France calls for a civic service to aid development that, with the support of armed forces, would facilitate the reintegration of young volunteers into civilian life with specific professional training. Such a development assistance service would be a concrete response to problems of demobilization and reintegration in the aftermath of conflicts.



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