Remarks by Ministers Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Jan Kubis at the UN Security Sector Reform workshop

His Excellency Minister Jan Kubis
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovakia,
His Excellency Minister Nana Obiri-Boahen
Minister of State of Interior of Ghana,
His Excellency Nelson Paluku
Deputy Minister of National Defence of the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Mr Patrik Mazimhaka
Deputy Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union,
Distinguished Guests

To those of you who are visiting Cape Town for the first time, I invite you to enjoy this beautiful part of the Continent, our mountains, the sea where two oceans co-exist very peacefully and in harmony.  I hope you will be able to enjoy our very good wines and friendly people.  And perhaps to visit the small island which was home to some of Africa’s finest sons for a very long time – Robben Island.  So please enjoy South Africa.  It really is a world in one country.

We are honoured by your presence in our country and, in the city of Cape Town in particular, for this important international workshop on security sector reform.

This workshop came about as a result of the good cooperation we have had with the government of Slovakia during this time when we are both serving as non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.  Our cooperation in this area was also informed by our understanding of the relevance and the centrality and complexity of security sector reform in all efforts of the international community aimed at bringing peace, security and development to the world. 

We were therefore particularly pleased that this workshop could, among its objectives, seek to contribute and complement other initiatives aimed at helping Africa articulate a vision of security sector reform, and thereby also contribute to the discussions at the level of the African Union and the United Nations.  Indeed it is our hope that the outcome of the discussions over these two days will support similar initiatives at the African Union and at the United Nations.


Security sector reform in its broadest sense is now accepted as one of the pillars necessary for sustainable peace, security, democracy and development in all societies.  This is due to the important place occupied by the security services – in particular the military, the police, intelligence and the judiciary – in all societies.  One the one hand these are agencies that can be seen as the main projection of a State’s power.  On the other, they could also be seen as agencies that should always be at the forefront of providing security to all citizens. It is for this reason that professional, effective and accountable security services have become a necessary institution for the establishment of lasting peace and development.  Without a well governed security sector democracy and the respect for the human rights of citizens can easily be imperilled. This therefore makes security sector reform also an important aspect of the post-conflict reconstruction and development.

In many parts of our continent we are today witnessing significant progress with the resolution of conflicts and the consolidation of peace and democracy.  Democratic elections have been held during the last decade in many African countries, in fact, in the majority of African countries.  Where conflicts still persist there are moves to conclude peace agreements.  There is no conflict that has been left unattended even though we are aware that conflict resolution is difficult, painstaking and time consuming.  However, despite this, all conflicts are attended to.  In all these processes there is a realisation of the need for a security sector that is oriented towards a progressive consolidation of democracy. A security sector that supports the democratisation process and that identifies with the needs of the people.  A security sector that is a guarantor of security and freedom, rather than a threat to it.  

By its very nature security sector reform can be a politically sensitive process.  To succeed it is also important that it should be seen as context-specific, addressing realities that differ from country to country. In this regard I am pleased in this workshop there are case studies will be presented and we will have an opportunity to look at the lessons learned from the five countries.  From the case studies that we will discuss it will be clear that each of these countries faced its own unique challenges. 

I would like to stress this point because for a long time our continent has suffered from many attempts to impose one-size-fits-all solutions to our problems.  It is not a secret that this has been the case also with security sector reform. 


A related point is the need for security sector reform to be nationally owned.  In broader development assistance there is a new paradigm which emphasises the need for nationally owned programmes.  This is because of the realisation that nationally owned programmes have a better chance of success.  National ownership also increases the accountability of governments to their citizens.  Security sector reform therefore also needs to be based on national ownership if it is to succeed and be sustainable.  It should be shaped and driven by the local needs of the affected countries themselves.

National ownership in countries emerging from conflict can sometimes be undermined by the reality that security sector reform is an expensive and long-term process. Most of the countries emerging from conflict will not always possess these required resources.  However, as I have said already, it is through national ownership that donors themselves can get a better result from their assistance programmes.   Therefore there should be no tension between external support and national ownership of security sector reform processes.

Indeed I wish to acknowledge the importance of the role of external support for security sector reform.  We appreciate the presence of many countries in this workshop that have supported security sector reform programmes over the years.  It is also for this reason that the programme of the workshop will also allow for a discussion of the role of external assistance in supporting security sector reform.   We hope that this discussion will look critically at this matter and offer concrete ideas on how, amongst other things, external assistance could support national ownership.

Security sector reform in countries emerging from conflict has also needed to be seen as part of the broader post-conflict reconstruction and development strategies and should not be seen in isolation. In South Africa and in many other countries which have undertaken security sector reform we have had to link it with the broader development framework in order to ensure its sustainability.  Other countries emerging from conflict have had to demobilise soldiers, in certain instances including child soldiers, as part of security sector reform.  Without a link therefore to post-conflict reconstruction and development this process would not be sustainable and would even create a danger of a relapse to conflict. 

From our experience in South Africa we also saw the importance of an all inclusive process in designing security sector reform programmes.  The involvement of all stakeholders, and particularly women, is also a prerequisite for a successful reform of the security sector.  This is important as the security sector not only serves the state or ruling governments, but is important for the society as a whole.  Therefore the doctrines of our security services needed to be understood and informed by the inputs of all stakeholders.

Although I have been talking about security sector reform in countries emerging from conflict it is also important for other countries as well.  Most see the need for a continuous review of their security policies even at times of peace.   

I am pleased that this workshop will also discuss the role of sub-regional and regional organisations in security sector reform.  African regional and sub-regional organisations have an important role to play in security sector reform.  This flows from their mandates as well as their traditions and practices.  In the context of the African Union we adopted the post-conflict reconstruction and development framework (PCRD).  The PCRD as a policy framework is also premised on the realisation of the importance of security sector reform.  The PCRD therefore serves as an important component of the AU’s peace and security architecture.  

At the global level an important part of this initiative that we are taking with the government of Slovakia is to seek ideas that could contribute to the elaboration of a UN framework for security sector reform.  The United Nations, through its various organs and specialised agencies, has been involved in security sector reform in many countries. This, however, has taken place without there being a common understanding or a standing United Nations framework for security sector reform.  We therefore hope that our discussions in this workshop can also contribute to that. 

Amongst all international organisations the United Nations has a unique legitimacy due to the principles that it stands for as well the wide scope of its work.  To enhance their legitimacy, however, United Nations processes require the inputs of all its Member States.  They need to be informed by the realities and the needs of all its Members.  Therefore the results of our workshop in the next two days should also serve to inform the discussions at United Nations.

In conclusion I wish to thank the UNDP and all the governments that have supported the hosting of this workshop in Cape Town. 

I thank you.

Remarks by Minister Jan Kubis

Thank you very much and it is good to be in South Africa.  This is my first visit to South Africa so it is my opportunity to experience your country.

I believe we are however dealing with serious topics so I would like to first of all, express my deep appreciation to South Africa and Minister Dlamini Zuma for engaging together with Slovakia in organising and promoting the idea of Security Sector Reform and in organising this event.

This is just one more re-confirmation of our good co-operation between our two countries in the Security Council since both our countries are serving as non-permanent members on the Security Council.  We see eye-to-eye on many issues and co-operate well.  We are very glad that also, on this issue, we have been able to join forces, and hold this meeting in South Africa.

I appreciate the efforts of our South African colleagues to organise this event.  I would like to thank you for your hospitality.

For us in Slovakia, SSR is the topic we have chosen as our horizontal topic of interest during our tenure of the non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council.  This was the theme during our Presidency of the Council in February 2007.  I am very glad that after the meeting that was well attended by representatives of the UN family and member states we were able to issue a Presidential Statement as one of the outcomes of the meeting.  The Secretary-General of the United Nations will, in turn, present a report on SSR and we are eagerly anticipating this report.  We, as Slovakia are hoping the report will be presented soon so that we will have a chance to be part of the discussions on this report. 

For Slovakia, this topic is important because it confirms it is not only important to have SSR in countries with conflict but also important to all countries.  Even in Slovakia, we experienced a period of transformation during which we saw the contribution the reformation of the security sector can make to the overall development of a country.

I can highlight this because through this reform that was considered in a holistic way and encompassed areas like the judiciary, law enforcement agencies, general democracy, human rights, we managed to create a good environment that enabled us to move forward in our economic and social development and therefore became more attractive to foreign investors.  Unless SSR is part of the overall reform and transformation of a country, it is not attractive to foreign investors and is therefore unable to attract foreign direct investment. 

This is also one of the points I wanted to make: it is not just for the sake of post-conflict countries in which we should see SSR but this is also good for the overall, general development of a country not just from a military perspective.

I am very glad that we can talk about SSR also from another perspective: that of conflict prevention.  Conflict prevention is very often dealing with issues that are as important for conflict prevention such as for the security sector.  The reform of the security sector is important for creating conditions that are working against conditions that will enable conflicts to emerge so that is also a very important contribution of SSR.

Conflict prevention is becoming an increasingly important topic in the UN system.  We see it, not only in the attention the system is devoting to this topic but also for the discussions that took place in the UN Security Council recently spearheaded by the Republic of Congo.  We are looking forward to the report by the UN Secretary-General on the subject.

SSR from our perspective is so important because it means an eventual improvement to the lives of ordinary people and not only institutional and capacity building and technocratic approaches focusing on one or two particular approaches or institutions but as I said, SSR without addressing the needs of the common people will be incomplete.

Therefore, we hope very much that will increasingly, the UN system will be able to create such basic elements of the SSR that will touch upon more and more issues that are very important – I mentioned some of them – transitional justice, rule of law, good governance, all that can be started through SSR and can move towards other areas.

Off course, it means that we are dealing, not just with State institutions but with people.  People must be engaged through different fora – civil society, NGOs, local authorities – without them it will be difficult to move meaningfully towards SSR and therefore it is a priority to engage people and to create openings for them and to work with them.  We can then have support and this support, at a local level can generate good support and momentum at higher levels.

We saw this in a good number of conflict situations.  When you miss the link of engaging with the people, it is not only about disarmament, it is about reintegration of the fighters – it is about justice – it is about topics like woman’s rights, gender equality, integration of children previously engaged in armed conflicts, etc. 

I mentioned our experiences and I wanted to highlight this not only as post-conflict countries who experience SSR.  I mentioned our experience working in the UN Security Council.  I can just confirm that for close to two years we have been working with the UN Security Council on aspects of SSR in many of the situations of peacekeeping and conflict resolution with which we had to deal.  And based on our experiences, we have become so active with SSR because we see how important it is for the success of peacekeeping and conflict if implemented in a holistic way.

We came to the conclusion to not have this as once off discussion but to have ongoing and continuous engagement on the matter.  We are very happy that the UN Secretary-General will be very involved in this matter.

Off course, one element will involve national ownership as mentioned by Minister Dlamini Zuma.  Indeed, there is no model that will fit all situations.  It will be wrong to do this.  But it is good to have some commonly developed and implemented parameters and then we will have to apply them to very complicated situations.  Here is Africa, there have been many situations where SSR is a part of the solution.  Sometimes, it yields good results and sometimes, not necessarily so.  I am very grateful to you for participating in this way.

You are contributing not just analytical concepts but concepts of practitioners, those who are dealing with conflict situations.  I am very glad this is a mixture, as I have said, of politicians, donor countries, practitioners.

It is important to deal with SSR also within an understanding of the dynamics and criteria of SSR that would assist us to develop and enhance institutions like the UN Peacebuilding Commission and the AU Peace and Security Council developed under the banner of the African Union.

It was mentioned that SSR also involved good co-operation with donors, sub-regional organisations, etc.  This will be discussed later.  I am very glad that the EU is becoming increasingly involved in co-operation with Africa.

I would like to think that this is a small contribution of us all, Slovakia as a new member of the EU, South Africa as a leading African Union member to the forthcoming EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon and to the new partnership we would like to cement with Africa based on equal partnership and forward orientated, not just based on the donor-recipient paradigm.  So again, I have no doubt that this co-operation could and should influence the outcome of the negotiations of the EU-Africa Summit.

 Thank you

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
7 November 2007



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