Statement by H. E. Mr. Margus Kolga, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Estonia to the United Nations Open Debate in the Security Council on Security Sector Reform
At the outset, let me thank Nigeria for convening the Council’s Open Debate on the Security Sector Reform and for the very comprehensive Concept Note. This is the second open debate out of three in total during this presidency and Estonia, as a supporter of the enhanced openness and transparency of the Council, would like to congratulate the Nigerian Presidency for this effort. It is important that all the states which are not members of the Council are given the opportunity to contribute to the discussions on issues related to world’s peace and security.
I would also like to thank the Secretary General for his briefing and welcome the Council for adopting the first resolution on Security Sector Reform, which my country is proud to cosponsor. Estonia also aligns with the statement made by the European Union.
As this is the first time Estonia takes the floor on this important issue we would like to commend Slovakia`s leadership in bringing this into Council`s agenda. The importance of the Security Sector Reform in the global peace and security agenda cannot be underestimated. “Security is the bedrock upon which States are built” stays in the Concept Note and we cannot agree more. Weak security institutions cannot prevent the outbreak of a conflict and in a post-conflict situation they often cannot avoid the country`s relapsing into a chaos again. Therefore support to such reforms is one of the most important tasks for the international community in order not only to maintain peace and security but also to re-establish rule of law and protect human rights in a country.
Let me make some observations in this respect. First, one of the key factors for success is the inclusiveness of reconstruction and stabilisation process. The SSR is not a purely technical exercise of reforming defence forces or law enforcement agencies; it is a part of wider political process, in which the lead role of national authorities is crucial. The best guarantee for enduring stability, for the success of reforms and changes is involvement of all fractions of society - religious, ethnic and social, but also political layers of the country, women and youth. If that could be achieved, a society’s ownership of its future - another important factor for the success – would be much stronger. As inclusiveness and ownership lay the groundwork for peacebuilding, it has to be kept in mind already in the phase of negotiating peace.
Second, very often countries in transition or exiting a conflict need advice and encouragement. Here, international community has an important role to play in terms of capacity building. Therefore, I would like to praise the UN for the steady enhancement of its peacebuilding toolbox and special attention to SSR as a part of it. The fact that the number of references to SSR in the Council’s resolutions has grown considerably and that the majority of mandates for both peacekeeping and special political missions contain SSR is very welcome. We also note positively that the membership of the UN SSR Task Force has doubled during the recent years. The SSR has become an integral part of the UN’s peacekeeping and peacebuilding agenda, obtaining a more prominent position year by year.
Third, we see SSR genuinely linked to the rule of law and we are happy to see this linkage mentioned also in the resolution (to be) adopted today. But we do not believe that rule of law should be considered as an end state or goal in itself. SSR should be executed already in the environment where the principles of the rule of law are applicable otherwise there will be a great danger to compromise overall peacebuilding and reconstruction process.
Finally, there is quite a lot of SSR related knowledge out there. Many of the UN Member States have taken up the path of state building and reformed their security sector as a part of that, a number of Member States have already shared their experiences and knowledge with others. That applies also to the regional organisations. Experience gained in those processes is worth collecting and sharing with those in need. We believe the UN should coordinate such efforts and we commend the comprehensive approach taken already by the Secretary General in that regard. That further enhances UN’s own expertise and contributes to improvement of the organisation’s capacity to deliver.
Estonia’s own record in reforming its security sector could be taken as an example of success. After the end of the Soviet occupation our nation faced a huge task of building up a society based on principles and values different from those of the totalitarian system, a society based on democracy. That meant vigorous institution building, adherence to good governance, strengthening of rule of law, placing a human being in the centre of development. SSR became a genuine part of that process. Estonia luckily had many friends and advisers for that, but real results started to emerge when we understood that the reforms were for our own good, not for somebody´s else. We can assure, the notion of ownership was of utmost importance and this is the message that we want to reinforce today. For the last ten years, we have been sharing that experience also with others in supporting capacity building. Estonia has shared this expertise on regional level in the Balkans, in the Caucasus, in Moldova and in the Ukraine. Our police and correction experts and trainers have been a part of the respective EU missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Step by step, we are trying to enhance the scope of our involvement and become a part of wider peacebuilding initiatives and missions. In order to share UN’s efforts, Estonian Government has decided in this year first time ever to make a contribution to the Peacebuilding Fund.
Thank you, Mr. President.