African CSOs to Strengthen Engagement in the Security Sector
Representatives from 16 civil society organisations from Kenya, South Africa, Cameroon, Liberia, Mali, Zimbabwe, DR Congo, Malawi, Chad, Nigeria, Ghana and Togo attended a two day planning meeting at the WACSI secretariat in Accra to brainstorm on the modus operandi of a pan-African capacity building security sector network for African CSOs.
Participants at the meeting which took place from 23 – 24 February expressed their wish to have a concrete plan of action put in place to commence activities of the network by the end of the meeting. The meeting also witnessed the participation of representatives from the African Security Sector Network (ASSN), African Security Dialogue and Research (ASDR), Foundation for Security and Development in Africa (FOSDA) and West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), an advisory group member, and, donor organisations represented by Open Society Foundation (OSF) and Trust Africa.
Discussions during the meeting focused on the activities of the network that would adequately address the capacity gaps of CSOs across Africa on security issues. General Thomas Jaye, member of the advisory group of the African Security Governance project, which culminated in the creation of the network, pointed out that “institutions that are supposed to serve as guardian angels of security in states have failed”. This poses the need for CSOs to contribute in ensuring that adequate physical security is given to citizens, but also, to ensure that citizens are exonerated from deeper oppression.
Participants pondered on possible ways of mobilizing resources for the network and how their organizations can contribute to the success of the network. They also agreed to set up a steering committee that would oversee activities leading to the full running of the network. Participants unanimously agreed to have WACSI serve as the interim secretariat for the network and coordinate members and the steering committee to put in place the institutional structures for the network. The steering committee was commissioned to develop a constitution for the Network. They were also tasked to make plans for the next general meeting for current and new participating organizations from across the continent.
The verve amongst participants was high. Ezekiel Pajibo of Trust Africa, Liberia, pledged the commitment of Trust Africa to collaborate with Search for Common Ground, Liberia that was equally present, to identify and bring on board Liberian CSOs working on security issues. He emphasized on the need for a change in the paradigm of addressing security challenges and thinks the engagement of CSOs can contribute to this.
Undule Mwakasungula, CHRR, Malawi
Undule Mwakasungula of the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Malawi, expressed the commitment of his organization to mobilize his colleagues working on security issues in his country to be affiliated to the network. “It is important to embrace the network and internalize the outcomes of this meeting within our organizations”, he noted. He believes a collective effort of CSOs dealing with security issues on the continent would enable the network to effectively contribute towards security on the continent. Undule affirmed his conviction that WACSI’s presence at the helm of the process would lead to success. “WACSI has the capacity and is going to be of added value in giving direction on how the network should function”, he stated.
Participants left with optimism and satisfaction on the prospects of having a robust and effective civil society body made of Africans, by Africans and working for Africans, that would contribute towards positive peace in Africa.