Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Africa: Nigeria, South-Africa re-affirm commitment to security sector reform in Africa

Nigeria and South Africa have reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring security sector reforms that take into account the perspectives of the African continent.

Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Professor Joy Ogwu and her South African counterpart, Mr Baso Sangqu, said at a two-day forum on African perspectives on Security Sector Reform (SSR) in New York, that they recognised that although Africa represented the main theatre where SSR processes were located and take place, the voices of African states in defining and setting the agenda were “quite muted and faint.”

A statement issued on Sunday in Lagos quotes Ogwu as saying that experiences had consistently shown that success in SSR depended on the perspectives of the recipients of the assistance.

“This is the basis of national ownership, which we all agree is a core principle.

“There can be no more legitimate voices on SSR than the voices of those countries and societies who have actually been the subject and object of these reforms,’’ she said.

Ogwu said that African states had a responsibility to contribute to what was “rapidly crystallizing into the UN SSR agenda.”

The Nigeria Permanent Representative told her colleagues from other states, senior UN officials and regional organisations, that African states’ position on SSR could not be homogenous.’’

“We have to be realistic in appreciating the diversity of states of which the African continent is composed.

“Some are still plagued by active conflict, others are undergoing post-conflict transitions and early recovery, while many are at various stages of the consolidation of good governance,’’ she said.

On his part, Sangqu said that both countries endorsed the promotion of SSR as an essential element in peace building, including conflict prevention.

He cautioned national governments, donors and international institutions against approaching SSR in isolation, saying that it should be considered only as a component of a wider reform effort.

“It is important to emphasise that the reform of the security sector is often an essential but never a sufficient condition for peace and security.

“For SSR to be viable (to make states and societies feel safer), it needs to be part of a broader transformation and longer-term process of regular institutional renewal for all states, regardless of their level of development,’’ he said.

The forum, which ended on Friday, was jointly organised by Nigeria and South Africa, with funding from the government of the Netherlands.

The event was organised within the context of the evolution of the UN approach to SSR and a strategic partnership between the African Union Commission and the UN.

Security sector reform is seen by experts as vital to boosting stability in post-conflict countries.

Many of the reforms focus on building effective, accountable and sustainable security sectors that operate within the framework of the rule of law and respect for human rights.

Source: APA (16/05/2010)

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