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Geneva launches pioneer Security Sector Reform field manual

Posted: Monday, 25 March 2013, Geneva | Author: United Nations Office at Geneva

Geneva launches pioneer Security Sector Reform field manual On 5 and 6 March, over 80 representatives of the United Nations family, the diplomatic community and civil society came together for the Geneva launch of the United Nations Security Sector Reform Integrated Technical Guidance Notes (ITGNs).  

The high-level events were hosted by Slovakia, the United Nations Office at Geneva and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces.  Besides celebrating the publication, the events provided room for a critical assessment of challenges UN field missions are grappling with and frank discussion on the way forward in the area of SSR.

Opening the events, UNOG Director-General Kassym-Jomart Tokayev emphasized the critical importance of security sector reform in helping fragile countries through delicate post-conflict transitions.  “Where the security sector has in many contexts been part of the problem, we need to make it part of the solution through reform”, he said.    

State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic Peter Burian and Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions Dmitry Titov delivered keynote addresses, focused on how to translate the ITGNs into practical progress on the ground.

Mr. Titov underscored that “security sector reform has become an increasingly important component of United Nations peace operations and is now mainstreamed as core element of conflict prevention, peacebuilding and development.”  They both highlighted the need for a strategic approach to ensure national ownership and necessary democratic governance.

Speakers at the experts-level seminar noted that the UN's understanding of SSR has moved beyond the component-level to a sector-wide approach, adding a qualitative element to the understanding of security and addressing the social contract between citizens and security providers. Participants agreed that any progress in SSR requires increased interaction and trust-building between ministries, local governance structures and citizens themselves. Furthermore, it was underscored that addressing cross-cutting issues like gender and human rights in SSR need to be seen as a tool of engagement in reform processes rather than imposing preconditions for international support.

The case of Côte d'Ivoire gave an example of where the ITGNs have already helped facilitate UN support and provided practical advice for politically sensitive processes such as national security policy-making. The UN's advisory role in these instances may create an opportunity for a more inclusive dialogue on SSR that goes beyond government circles. It was emphasized that the roll-out of the ITGNs to the field and the development of sound monitoring and evaluation tools will require enhanced resources and continued support by Member States and partners.

It was asserted that new challenges like the increase in criminal violence, privatization of security or the proliferation of actors necessitate a more coordinated approach among UN agencies and stronger partnering with regional and sub-regional organizations. Yet, before advancing in coordinated planning and joint programming, discussants stressed the importance of stepping up joint assessment and analysis in order to learn from each others experience and knowledge. 

Separate launches will take place in Vienna and Nairobi to ensure wide dissemination of the ITGNs and to honour the inclusive, collaborative spirit of this unique document.