January 16, 2021

Statement delivered by Ambassador Andreas D. Mavroyiannis – Security Sector Reform

Open High-level Group of Friends of Security Sector Reform Meeting
SSR: Consolidating priorities and looking beyond 2015
New York, February 12, 2015

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

We commend and thank South Africa and Slovakia for convening this important debate. My contribution will look at the issues under discussion through the prism of where the UN should find itself at its 70th year. 

From an SSR perspective, we all know that a healthy security sector is a barometer of true democracy in every country. And while it might be more pertinent in conflict-ridden societies, it is relevant for all of us: it is a constant endeavour for developed and developing, stable and transitioning, States alike. If the UN is itself a project of building a global community of democracies adhering to universal rights, then good governance – which requires a credible and accountable security sector – is at its core.

Legitimate security institutions that can deliver stability and human security is one variable in a large equation. SSR cannot be successful or sufficient if pursued in isolation: democratization, rule of law, development, human rights, gender equality, inclusiveness, arms control, and political and justice reforms must accompany it. The host government must commit to comprehensive reforms, but few of the above can be achieved by an ailing State in its own. The UN must make its tools available in a targeted manner, customizing them to the unique local circumstances of the country in need.

Along with the strategic reviews being undertaken at this time, we suggest codifying all the means we have at our disposal to support Member States, comparing them to our desired ends. We need more clarity regarding all these means, how their use is activated and on the basis of what criteria. We need a more strategic approach to the entire conflict cycle, factoring all the ingredients necessary to prevent or terminate the use of force, including SSR.

It is precisely vis-à-vis its founding role that the UN’s effectiveness needs to be assessed: attaining and maintaining international peace and security, preventing and resolving conflict, making the threat or use of force a thing of the past. Is the state of the world what one would have expected at the time of the UN’s creation and 15 years after the MDGs? Are so many conflicts inevitable? Are so many human rights abuses inevitable? Is the destitute poverty people live in inevitable? Are we happy with health and education standards? Are we happy with our response to environmental degradation? The indicators are disappointing, both between countries, as well as within countries.

The UN is not as effective as we would like it to be and we need to collectively identify why. We may have different perspectives as to why, and this is why a broad dialogue is needed for an accurate diagnosis. Without this diagnosis there can be no treatment. It might be that most tools we already have at our disposal. It might be that we need to start designing new ones. Then again, it might be that we simply need to implement the decisions we have been taking all these years.

Our actions must fit in a conceptual context and bridge the gap between reality and vision. The UN has an all-encompassing agenda that is geared to meet this overarching goal, but are we strategically blending all the elements of our agenda in the service of this objective or are they just fragmented endeavours that never go beyond the sum of their parts?

The UN should not compartmentalize its work. If it is to be effective, it must do its work credibly across the board, using its agenda – as its most valuable tool – in an integrated and inter-connected manner.