I would like to start by welcoming H.E. Minister Ashiru to the Security Council and congratulate Nigeria for taking the initiative to promote a debate on such an important element of post-conflict peacebuilding. I acknowledge the presence of H.E. the Minister of State from India among us and also thank Under Secretary-General Herve Ladsous for his presentation.
Allow me some comments on Portugal’s perspectives concerning SSR, based on our own experience of cooperation in peacebuilding efforts in several countries.
Firstly, we see the reform of security institutions as part of a broader process of reconstruction and in the framework of national dialogue; this broader scope must also involve social and economic development, the protection of human rights and the consolidation of governance structures, aiming, in the end, at promoting human security in a broad perspective and effective citizenship.
Ignoring the inter-linkage between these different aspects usually undermines reconstruction efforts by national and international actors and increases the risk of a relapse into conflict. In this respect, the work of the PBC in linking the different elements of peacebuilding, including SSR, is a good practice that should be recognised and encouraged;
Secondly, the number of international actors involved in SSR support initiatives has grown considerably in recent years. The involvement of African regional and sub-regional organisations, as well as individual African countries, in initiatives aimed at supporting SSR – for instance the training of the police in Somalia by AMISOM - is a very positive example of such a trend. Likewise, I would also like to underline the important role of the European Union in supporting SSR in Africa, as well as the initiatives of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries aimed at encouraging SSR processes in some of its Member states.
As the number of actors providing international assistance to SSR increases, we should guarantee that there is an effective coordination among those actors, namely to avoid duplications. Also in this respect, the PBC has contributed to ensuring a degree of articulation and identifying and promoting synergies between different initiatives. It is also important that the United Nations maintain a leading role in the coordination of international efforts.
The third aspect I wish to underline is that security sector reform is a long-term process, based on national strategies and on the political will of the authorities to sustain the new institutions in the long run. But implementation of reform cannot be achieved without the necessary resources;
We should be very clear about this point: in many situations, SSR strategies will stall if not properly matched by the active engagement of the international community. In those situations, it will prove very hard for countries to individually undertake what is necessarily a difficult process. We could mention here the case of Guinea-Bissau, where the authorities have committed themselves to an SSR strategy, which requires the commitment of international partners in the implementation of key aspects of that strategy.
Fourthly, let me refer to the great importance of promoting of justice as a cornerstone of SSR. While the military and the police are crucial for peace consolidation, one should not overlook the decisive importance of a functional and effective judicial system, as a central element for ensuring the respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, the fight against impunity and the development of a functioning economy.
Investment in SSR is also a fundamental measure to tackle organised crime, in particular arms and drug-trafficking, a great challenge in some of the countries emerging from conflict in Africa. As Portugal has repeatedly stated, fighting organised crime requires strong national security institutions, but it also requires the enhancement of regional cooperation, namely to ensure that success in one individual country does not create additional risks for neighbouring states;
Finally, Mr. President, we should bear in mind that security sector reform is usually part of a reconciliation process in societies divided by recent conflict dynamics. Often, it involves searching for national consensus on the foundations of the State, including on constitutional reform. International support to SSR should, to the extent possible, promote an inclusive approach to the creation of new institutions, by bringing to the fore the perspectives of the various groups and communities that may contribute to the process, including those of women. Such an effort will certainly enhance the legitimacy of institutions, as well as the resilience of post-conflict societies.
I thank you for your attention.