(As delivered)

Statement by Ambassador Yukio Takasu
Permanent Representative of Japan
Chairperson of the Peacebuilding Commission

Security Council Meeting on Security Sector Reform
12 May 2008

Mr. President,

I would like to express my deep appreciation to you, Mr. President, for inviting me, in my capacity as Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, to address the Council on security sector reform. My gratitude goes to the Secretary-General for his briefing and his endeavors on promoting this matter. I am also grateful to His Excellency Mr. Ján Kubiš, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovakia, for his presence today and the leadership role by his country. The presence of Deputy Foreign Minister van der Merwe of the Republic of South Africa is welcome.

Mr. President,

Ensuring security is a precondition for any peacebuilding effort in countries emerging from conflict. In order to achieve sustainable peace in such countries, it is critically important to strengthen local capacity in the security sector by carrying out effective reform with the assistance of the international community. If we fail to successfully address this important challenge, it will certainly cause a serious "peacebuilding gap", which will hamper a smooth shift beyond peacekeeping activities and a gradual transition to longer-term socio-economic development in the overall peace continuum. Security sector reform has broad implications for peacebuilding efforts, such as reconciliation, social integration, and youth empowerment.

This is why security sector reform is one of the high priority issues in the work of the Peacebuilding Commission. It was with that in mind that the Commission held thematic discussions on the reform of the security and justice sectors in its country-specific meetings. Throughout its work, the PBC has put emphasis on ownership; priorities to be identified by the government as well as commitment to fulfill its responsibility. In the consultative process involving all stakeholders, the PBC develops integrated peacebuilding strategy. Security sector reform has been identified as a priority area both in Sierra Leone and Burundi. These frameworks and monitoring mechanisms describe the challenges faced and the commitments to be met by both the government itself and other stakeholders, locally and internationally.

Sierra Leone has been widely viewed as an example of successful security sector reform. The Cooperation Framework contains specific commitments on the part of the government to review the conditions and terms of service of its armed forces, to reduce the size of the armed forces, to provide training to improve police and community relations. The report by the Chair of the Sierra Leone country-specific configuration underscores that the Government of Sierra Leone has been making impressive progress in meeting its commitments. I believe that the upcoming High-Level Stakeholders Consultation on Sierra Leone on 19 May presents a useful opportunity to highlight security sector reform initiatives led by the Government with the support of its international partners, including the United Nations and the United Kingdom, and to seek additional support for continued reforms.

The Peacebuilding Commission's engagement with Burundi has focused on consolidating the important gains made to date, through the re-organization of the Army and the Police, and the demobilization of combatants. At this moment, a delegation from the Peacebuilding Commission is visiting Burundi. Recent violent clashes between Palipehutu-FNL and Government security forces and the ensuing worsening of the security situation will be an important issue for discussion during the visit. I would like to emphasize that continued international support for security sector reform is critical to lay the foundation for effective peacebuilding efforts in that country.

With regard to Guinea-Bissau, security sector reform is identified as one of the most important peacebuilding priorities through the interaction with the Government. During the PBC's visit to the country recently the participants concurred in the view of the stakeholders on the ground that successful implementation of Guinea-Bissau's Security Sector Reform Plan published in November 2006 was key to the country's stability. The Commission is now in the process of developing an Integrated Peacebuilding Strategy (IPBS), reflecting the priority concerns of the country.

As designed to address any gap in the early stage of the peacebuilding process, the Peace Building Fund (PBF) plays a catalytic role to support various security sector reform initiatives. In Sierra Leone, PBF supported to strengthen police capacities in the lead-up to the national elections and to improve the conditions of military barracks. In Burundi, PBF supported reform efforts of the national police and the intelligence services. In Guinea-Bissau, a project to rehabilitate prisons and provide support to the judiciary police is currently under consideration to be funded by the PBF.

Mr. President,

Let me now offer some of my observations on security sector reform, in light of the experiences gained through the work of the Peacebuilding Commission in the past two years.

First, security sector reform must be a nationally owned process. The governments concerned should lead not only the planning process but also implementation of such reform. The commitment by the national leaders to fulfill their responsibility for the reform is essential to produce results and induce international support.

Second, security sector reform requires long-term, predictable and sustainable support and assistance from the wider international community. It is important to involve all national and international stakeholders from early stage of planning for ensuring a smooth transition from peacekeeping to recovery and sustainable development. In coordination with the efforts of local actors, UN agencies, individual countries, regional and international organizations including international financial institutions, and civil society are all equipped to make various contributions to this end.

Thirdly, a coordinated, coherent and integrated approach is indispensable in addressing the multi-faceted nature of security sector reform. Such reform requires active involvement of a wide range of national and international actors with diverse expertise and specialties. It also needs to take into account its close link with such matters as rule of law and good governance as well as the necessity to integrate gender perspectives.

Mr. President,

For all these reasons, I believe that the Peacebuilding Commission can make significant contributions to promoting security sector reform by providing a valuable forum for coordinated efforts by all relevant actors on the basis of integrated strategies. I would like to assure you that the PBC will continue to pay utmost attention to mobilizing support and resources for the efforts of countries emerging from conflict, based on mutual engagement, with the aim of bringing about a real impact on the ground.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Related Information (UN PKO and International Peace Cooperation)
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