The ACSS Senior Leaders Seminar began its second week on Monday, June 13 with its ninth plenary session. Dr. Ibrahim Wani, Chief of the Research and Right to Development Branch at the Office of the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights, gave an informative presentation on the Establishment of Reliable Domestic Security and Rule of Law. Dr. Wani analyzed the elements of rule of law based on his experiences at the UN: constitutionalism, sovereignty based on the people, separation of governmental powers, clear, constant and non-contradictory laws, and the process of independent judicial review.
Dr. Wani stressed that under the rule of law, both the government and the public are subject to the same laws. He warned that both a lack of funding for state legal systems and local recourse to traditional justice processes can upset the rule of law and lead to instability. Dr. Wani identified the absence of rule of law as the primary trigger of conflict and insecurity, which destroys rule of law institutions and negatively impacts state-citizen relations and public confidence in the state, thereby contributing to a “vicious cycle” where African countries are unable to emerge from conflict and reestablish rule of law. Dr. Wani proposed a comprehensive approach to strengthening rule of law in Africa by establishing: a legal framework that is effectively and consistently implemented, a free and fair electoral system, and clearly differentiated institutions of justice, governance, security, and human rights. Dr. Wani highlighted the need for transitional justice processes and mechanisms, as well as a civil society that contributes to rule of law and holds public officials and institutions accountable.
Dr. Wani’s presentation was followed by a session analyzing Post-Conflict Transitions in Africa. Mr. Said Abass Ahamed, an expert on post-conflict resolution in the Congo and Côte d’Ivoire, began the presentation by highlighting the need for post-conflict countries to rebuild their institutions, rule of law, state security forces, and judicial systems. Dr. Ahamed pushed the discussion forward by posing the question, “What measures should African countries take in post-conflict security sector reform to prevent a return to armed conflict?” He then identified two broad areas of security sector reform essential to preventing instability: making strategic choices and the development of new security architecture. He explained that strategic choices include creating a broad public definition of national priorities and the restoration of security for all citizens, not just for the people in power. Strategic decision makers must also devise ways to reintegrate state and rebel forces and must invest in state institutions instead of individual leaders. Mr. Ahamed then stressed that the key to creation of new security architectures in post-conflict states is to depoliticize the security forces, rebuild army unity and neutrality, and build trust between the public and the military.
Mr. J. Arthur Boutellis of the International Peace Institute then discussed the key challenges and opportunities for post-conflict resolution in Africa. He stressed that state institutions must be accountable, inclusive, legitimate and trusted, as well as provide citizen security, justice, and job creation. Mr. Boutellis also suggested that training post-conflict leaders, the reintegration of ex-combatants into society, and transitional justice aimed at rehabilitating victims and perpetrators are essential to preventing the return to armed conflict.
Mr. Boutellis explained that economic reform is important to establishing job creation, effective resource management, and national equitable growth. Finally, post-conflict elections and the establishment of a multi-party democracy are necessary to reestablish the public’s trust in state institutions. Referring to a World Bank report that claimed that 40% of post-conflict states relapse into conflict within 10 years, Mr. Boutellis argued that the first and second elections held post-conflict are crucial to preventing such a relapse. Drawing from his experiences with the UN Operation in Burundi, Mr. Boutellis closed by emphasizing the importance of power-sharing agreements in post-conflict settings.