World

Seminar on security sector reform emphasizes democratic civilian control

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GENEVA, 21 January (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Office at Geneva and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces held today a joint seminar titled "Security Sector Reform: Its Relevance for Conflict Prevention, Peace-Building, and Development", which stressed the importance of democratic control of security practices and the importance of reforms in such practices so that they could better enhance peace and development initiatives.

The seminar was chaired jointly by Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, and Ambassador Theodor Winkler, Director of the Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces. Presentations and follow-up discussions centred on security efforts and on practical ways in which they could help promote peace in various parts of the world.

Mr. Ordzhonikidze and Ambassador Winkler delivered opening addresses that highlighted the importance of democratic civilian control of the security sector for enhancing global peace and security. Among the panellists were Goran Svilanovic, Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; Adolf Ogi, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sport for Development and Peace; and Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE). Also participating were ambassadors, other government officials and analysts working in the field of security sector reform.

Among the themes that emerged during the discussions were the importance of coordinated, multilateral efforts for security reform, and the importance of such efforts being effective over the long term. The need for better coordination and policy coherence among regional organizations and among United Nations agencies and programmes, in particular in the field, was also emphasized. Participants highlighted the importance of education programmes in security sector reform as fundamental for wider conflict prevention, peace building and development processes. They also called for more research into good practices in security reform, but stressed that such research should be result-oriented and practical.

Participants welcomed the seminar as a significant first step in addressing the challenges of security sector reform, and representatives of United Nations agencies and programmes approved of the United Nations Office at Geneva's intention to continue to contribute to the reform process.