Statement by Ambassador Asoke K. Mukerji, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations at the UNSC Open Debate on “Security Sector Reform: Challenges and Opportunities” on 28th April 2014
1.I thank you for giving me the floor and also for the concept paper prepared by your delegation. It is a sign of the importance you attach to this issue, Mr. President, that we are discussing this issue once again under Nigeria’s Presidency. We had participated in the meeting chaired by Nigeria on 12 October 2011. I also thank the Secretary General for his contribution to the debate.
2.India has experience relevant to what we discuss today, having participated in 43 UN peacekeeping missions in which almost 170,000 Indian peacekeepers have participated so far. Security Sector Reform or SSR finds mention in the several Security Council Resolutions. We note that as many as 24 out of the 47 resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council in 2013 include an explicit reference to SSR. Also, 6 Peacekeeping operations and 8 Special Political Missions have been mandated to do SSR. In many of these peacekeeping Operations, troops from my country are directly involved.
3.It was only a few days ago that two Indian Peacekeepers donning the blue helmet were injured while protecting civilians at the UNMISS base at Bor in the South Sudan. This attack is another example of unresolved political issues in South Sudan which also reflects the importance of understanding the complex political environment of these peacekeeping missions, where SSR has to take root as part of the internal political process of the concerned member state.
4. SSR is an important element of post-conflict peacebuilding. Our Heads of State and Government in 2005 agreed that this issue is best considered by a specialized body created for this very purpose, i.e. the Peacebuilding Commission. The fact that despite the work of the Peacebuilding Commission, the Council still feels it necessary to discuss this issue today, shows the complexity of this subject. So, it is for reasons of pragmatism that we will use this opportunity to outline three basic principles that, in our view, must guide security sector reform.
5.First, it is important to keep in mind that the most sustainable way for effective security sector reform is by ensuring national ownership of the process. It is because of this, that General Assembly resolution 60/180 establishing the Peacebuilding Commission, affirms the primary responsibility of national governments of countries emerging from conflict to identify priorities and strategies for peacebuilding to ensure national ownership. We have, in the past, also emphasized that the external footprint, including of the UN, should be light to avoid any possible overtones of neo-colonialism.
6.Second, the establishment and maintenance of public order is important. A security vacuum after a peace agreement is dangerous. The late Sergio Vieira de Mello had noted: “Unlike other nation-building tasks, the maintenance of law and order cannot wait. If there is no law from day one, criminal activity thrives.” Though vitally important, the focus has to be on what is do-able and not on an agenda driven by priorities of donor countries. We hear, at times, references to the importance of cultural change in police reform. The concept note itself decries what it refers to as an excessive focus on issues of training and equipment at the cost of democratic governance and management. This is a prescription that we find difficult to agree with. Given the importance of national ownership and the scarcity of resources, the priority, in our view, should be given to issues such as ensuring impartiality in recruitment, vetting of new recruits and training. A focus on the political dimension of police reform will only be controversial and, perhaps, also counter-productive.
7.Third, we would also like to take this opportunity to caution against an over reliance on what are often termed as “innovative” approaches, particularly when there is a need to cut costs. There is, somehow, a belief that UN missions can be asked to do more with less. We can understand that – at some level – such logic will appeal to some people. The truth, however, is that cost cannot be cut without also cutting corners. We would, therefore, urge Member-States to recognize this and to also be pragmatic by only including mandates that are deliverable and for which resources are available.
8.I would, in conclusion, like to underline our view that security sector capacity building needs to necessarily occupy centre-stage in security sector reform. Such an approach would be both cost-effective and sustainable.