Statement by Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, during the Security Council Video Teleconference Open Debate on Security Sector Governance and Reform, 3 December 2020

Statement by Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, during the Security Council Video Teleconference Open Debate on Security Sector Governance and Reform, 3 December 2020

Fellow members of the Security Council,
Assistant Secretaries-General,
African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security,
Invited Member States,

South Africa is honoured to preside over this meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Security Sector Governance and Reform, which we believe deserves the sustained attention of this Council, as it remains an integral aspect of conflict prevention and peacebuilding efforts.

We thank all the briefers for their insightful briefings, which will most certainly enrich the debate today, and all of the Member States present for their participation.


Key to South Africa’s approach to sustaining peace is a holistic approach to conflict prevention, post-conflict reconstruction and development, and sustaining peace. We took a conscious decision to advance the imperative of peacebuilding in post-conflict societies by convening this debate focused on security sector governance and reform. This is an area that requires periodic reflection by the Security Council in light of the evolving security threats, including those that are asymmetric in nature, and the measures that post-conflict countries ought to take to make progress and safeguard their hard-won gains.

At the heart of security sector reform is the expectation that a State should be able to efficiently and effectively provide security and protection to its population through developing policies, structures, and the capacities of institutions involved in the security sector. This is a necessity for conflict prevention and sustaining peace in the long-term in post-conflict societies.

South Africa recognises that security sector governance and reform differs per State.  Our national experience with security sector reform proved an essential component in entrenching democracy and sustaining peace in our diverse country. Political will and buy-in from all segments of society, as well as a strong legislative and transformative policy framework contributed to the success of South Africa’s security sector reform. It is within this context that South Africa continues to share its experiences with other Member States, in particular, African countries affected by and those emerging from conflict.

Through our bilateral engagements, South Africa has provided policy, institutional and structural advice on reforming the security sector as well as training of personnel for the sector in Burundi, the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, and South Sudan, amongst others. As a troop and police contributing country to United Nations peacekeeping operations, we have been part of implementing security sector reform mandates in the DRC, South Sudan and the region of Darfur in the Sudan. South Africa, in its capacity as a co-chair of the Group of Friends of Security Sector Reform with Slovakia, convenes regular engagements in coordination with various stakeholders to draw experiences, lessons learned and insights in the area of sustaining peace and security sector reform with a view to strengthen the work of the United Nations in this area.


We note, however, that it has been a while since this Council has considered security sector reform within the realm of its competence. Since the adoption of the Security Council’s only resolution on this issue – Resolution 2151 – initiated by Nigeria over six years ago, South Africa recognises that meaningful progress has been made in advancing security sector governance and reform. However, gaps and challenges in implementation remain, presenting an opportunity for this Council and Member States to improve on this important peacebuilding issue.

Notable progress has been made in the prioritisation of security sector governance and reform in various peace processes. As a result most United Nations peacekeeping missions and special political missions are increasingly mandated to provide assistance in security sector reform in close cooperation with the host State. This is vital in enabling the missions to discharge their mandates and timely handover of security responsibilities to the host State.

We also observe that peace agreements facilitated by the United Nations and other regional organisations increasingly include provisions on security sector governance and reform such as in the Central African Republic, Colombia, Haiti, Mali, South Sudan and Sudan. However, more remains to be done to ensure their effective and timely implementation. Consistent engagement and oversight by relevant stakeholders, including the Security Council, is required to address this lacuna.


We must continue to address the challenges that persist in security sector governance and reform such as the misalignment between national priorities and the support provided by bilateral and international partners as well as poor coordination amongst the partners and by national authorities resulting in the ineffectiveness of security sector reform initiatives.

It is the prerogative of each State to determine its security sector reform approach, strategies and policies from inception, implementation to evaluation. In this regard, the support provided by the international community must be well coordinated and conform to national priorities of the host State. This will be consistent with the principles of full national ownership and leadership that must guide an effective security sector governance and reform. A one-size-fits-all approach must be avoided given the nuanced differences, needs and complexities of societies.

In order to ensure that security sector reform is able to support long-term sustainable peace, it must be informed by, and address the needs of, the entire population with the active involvement of women and youth as well as civil society actors. Indeed, the full, equal and meaningful participation of women through the development of security sector reform strategies that are gender responsive remains a vital component of any peacebuilding effort. This will contribute not only to ensuring inclusive processes but the consolidation of mutual trust between the population and security institutions.

The success of any peacebuilding effort requires adequate resources. There is thus a need to ensure predictable and sustainable funding for activities related to security sector reform efforts.


There are opportunities that we should explore to further advance security sector governance and reform. The United Nations should strengthen its collaboration with regional organisations such as the African Union, which has an established Security Sector Reform architecture reinforced primarily by its Security Sector Reform Policy, its Centre for Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development, and its Steering Committee on Security Sector Reform.

We also see merit in this Security Council placing security sector reform on its agenda as one of its key priorities, and to pay sustained attention to it in order to prevent countries from relapsing into conflict. This will also allow the Security Council to take stock, and keep track of developments in this area of work and, in a holistic manner, draw from lessons learnt in order to improve on the action it takes in addressing security sector governance and reform in specific country situations.

Against this background, South Africa has undertaken to update Security Council Resolution 2151 to make it more relevant, taking into account the evolving situation regarding the realisation of the objectives of security sector governance and reform.


Let me conclude by reaffirming South Africa’s commitment to supporting security sector governance and reform initiatives. South Africa, as a co-Chair of the Group of Friends of Security Sector Reform with Slovakia, remains committed to achieving progress in this vital area of work, which is essential in fulfilling the United Nations Security Council’s mandate of maintaining international peace and security, and in realising a prosperous and peaceful world for all.

I thank you.


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