DAKAR, Senegal – Security professionals from nine West African nations plus the United States and Europe gathered in the Senegalese capital of Dakar beginning October 15, 2012, to discuss the critical issue of Security Sector Reform (SSR) in a workshop co-sponsored by the Washington, D.C.,-based Africa Center for Strategic Studies and the U.S. Embassy in Dakar.
Speakers during the workshops opening days included U.S. Ambassador to Senegal and Guinea Bissau Lewis Lukens; Senegalese Minister of the Armed Forces Augustin Tine; and Academic Dean of the Africa Center Dr. Monde Muyangwa.
The workshop, scheduled to run through October 19, brought together senior-level civilian security and military officers from across Western Africa, international experts, and European and U.S. government officials to focus on practical steps and measures to achieve meaningful SSR and to allow stability and human protection to become the norm in the region. Approximately 46 participants from Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and the United States were taking part in the event.
Participants were drawn from the military, the police, the gendarmerie, and relevant government departments handling security and defense issues. Members of leading organizations from inside and outside the region, academics and international experts, and government officials from the United States were been invited. Dr. Monde Muyangwa hosted the opening.
Dr. Monde Muyangwa, the ACSS Academic Dean, began her remarks by noting the high ranking and distinguished participants engaging in this very important discussion.
“We have a huge task ahead of us this week,” Muyangwa said, “but I have no doubt that with the wealth of experience that is represented by the 46 participants that are here, we will achieve our goal — which is to find a better way of improving and delivering security to the citizens of West Africa.”
Lukens, the U.S. Ambassador to Senegal, told the participants the workshop will give them the opportunity to discuss current security challenges in participating nations while also giving security sector professionals the opportunity to develop possible solutions.
“This [workshop] is significant,” Lukens said. “It shows the strength and solidarity of our partnership here and demonstrates an increased awareness by the United States, by Senegal, and by other governments in partners in the region that security is a priority for you.” (Click here for Amb. Lukens’ remarks)
In his opening remarks, Minister of the Armed Forces Augustin Tine touched upon the need for African governments to reform their security sectors in order to achieve professional security institutions that meet the needs of citizens, society and state.
“Reform is necessary because our armed forces must adapt to the socio-economic realities of our countries and to new forms of threats,” Tine said. “This reform is also necessitated by the requirement of pooling forces to respond effectively and in a coordinated fashion to threats that challenge our sub-region. We now have the dual challenge of building a powerful defense system in line with our human resources and our budgetary resources.” (Click here for Minister Tine’s remarks)
The SSR workshop in Dakar was designed to provide security-sector professionals with the opportunity to analyze the security challenges facing West Africa, the reasons underpinning insecurity in the region, and to review the efficacy of current efforts to enhance safety measures for citizens.
The workshop schedule included plenary sessions and discussion group sessions involving experienced African, U.S., and international facilitators from academic institutions, policy-focused organizations, and government agencies.