Helen Clark: Speech at the National Council on Citizen Security and Coexistence

Nov 25, 2016

Citizen insecurity can be addressed through public policies that are democratic, inclusive and respectful of human rights. Photo: UNDP

It is a great pleasure to be here at the National Council on Citizen Security and Coexistence today, only two months away from the 25th anniversary of the signature of the Peace Accords.

Almost two years ago, the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, visited El Salvador, and addressed a session of this Council. On that occasion, his message was for all stakeholders to continue to work together, in the spirit of the Peace Accords.  

UNDP believes the Council is playing a vital role in finding solutions to the key development challenge facing El Salvador today: violence and insecurity. By providing a space for representatives of the wide-range of sectors of society to sit at the same table, and discuss problems and their solutions, the Council is making an important contribution to deepening dialogue within Salvadoran society and thereby making reconciliation possible. 

Thanks to the exchange of ideas and of proposals generated in the Council, the “Plan El Salvador Seguro” has been developed with the overarching objective of strengthening citizen security in the country. It offers an integrated and holistic response, recognizing that citizen security is a complex problem which calls for multi-dimensional, development-oriented solutions. 

Three years ago, UNDP published a regional Human Development Report for Latin American and the Caribbean titled “Security with a Human Face”. In the report, we emphasized that experience across the region suggest that law and order approaches on their own are not the solution. Comprehensive approaches, which take into account the complexities, address the drivers of the problem, and respect the fundamental human rights of all actors involved are needed.

It is encouraging therefore to see also the Plan El Salvador Seguro adopting a broad approach, with its focus on five pillars: prevention, crime control, rehabilitation, protection, and institutional strengthening. The Plan urges long-term solutions, addressing structural problems, and promoting transformational change and overall development.    

The Plan’s emphasis on local action is particularly important. Municipalities, communities, and other locally based actors are on the frontline of challenge of building a secure society. The leadership role of mayors is vital. I understand that there are 26 municipalities piloting new approaches to building citizen security, and that the approach will be rolled out to more in due course.

Successful implementation of the Plan calls for technical and financial resources, and expertise and knowledge. This includes learning from experiences and best practices from around the world. This Council has played a central role in facilitating such knowledge exchanges and having them reflected in the Plan. 

The UN is very pleased to have collectively supported both the development, and now the implementation of the Plan. Our two-year strategy brings together fourteen UN entities, and the World Bank to provide technical assistance worth more than USD 66 million for the Plan’s implementation, focusing on prevention and protection from violence.  UNDP, along with sister agencies, is committed to bringing development perspectives to its support for national and local actions. 


In conclusion, allow me to take this opportunity to thank the Government of El Salvador, and in particular the Secretary for Governance, Hato Hasbun, for their commitment to the work of this Council and its mission. I also thank the members of the Council for the trust placed in the United Nations Development Programme, so that - together with the European Union and the Organisation of American States - we have been able to support your important efforts.  

At your request, earlier this year UNDP carried out a review of the Council’s work, with the aim of further improving its effectiveness.  A number of positive points emerged in discussions with many of you, as did suggested areas for improvement, including on the need for better internal and external communications, improved monitoring of progress, and better resource mobilization for the Plan’s implementation.  

I look forward to hearing your views today on the achievements of the Council, how it can be further strengthened, and how the international community, especially UNDP and sister agencies, can best support your mission.

I commend you again for your tireless efforts to make transformational change in the lives of all Salvadorans and build peace and security for current and future generations.

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