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The Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) partnered with the ACSS Community Chapter in Guinea and the U.S. Embassy in Conakry to convene a Topical Outreach Program Series (TOPS) symposium on December 13, 2012 that examined anti-corruption efforts, civil military relations and security sector reform. Nearly 60 participants attended the event, to include ACSS community members, military personnel, officials from Guinea’s security and justice sectors, representatives from the U.S. Embassy in Conakry, as well as civil society and academia.
“The different sub-themes of this symposium have a direct connection with the problems of governance and security that continue to plague our world today,” Guinean Minister of Security Dr. Moumany Cissé said at the symposium. “It is with the aim to address these challenges that the Government of Guinea has committed to an extensive program of state reform and modernization.”
Minister Cissé insisted that security sector reform will be a major part of the reform process. “The government has high expectations for security sector reform,” he insisted, noting that Guinea’s SSR program will focus on strengthening the legal and judicial framework of the security sector, improving infrastructure, building operational capacity, and developing specialized training programs.
Dr. Diéliman Ousmane Kouyaté, President of the Technical Commission on Service Sector Reform, stressed the need to integrate a wide array of entities—governmental and non-governmental—in the security sector reform process.
“Security sector reform is not just a reform of militaries. It is not just having a good army,” said Dr. Diéliman Ousmane Kouyaté, President of the Technical Commission on Service Sector Reform. “It is a multi-sectoral approach to reform, to include justice, police, parliament, and civil society.”
Professor Mathurin Houngnikpo, Academic Chair in Civil-Military Relations at ACSS, believes that a priority of reform efforts should be to ensure that the country’s security forces can improve “human security.”
“Human security refers to both the rights of citizens to live in a safe environment and the ability to engage in political, social, religious and economic activities free from organized violence,” Professor Houngnikpo said during a presentation at the symposium. “The ultimate goal of the security policy should be the well-being of populations.”
Another major objective of Guinea’s reform program, according to Minister Cissé, “is to strengthen the fight against corruption in the government which, in the recent past, has become almost institutionalized.”
“Corruption is the number one threat to Africa. Corruption is so widespread, that it has become the culture, a part of the society,” said Mr. François Falcone, Executive Director, National Agency on Anti-Corruption and Good Governance. “To address corruption, the solution must be cultural—a cultural change. Anti-corruption is a process, as cultural change is also a process.”
Significant attention should be paid to reforming government procurement processes, according to Dr. Houngnikpo. “Contracts for public works projects and materials are the breeding ground of corruption,” he said during his presentation. “Corruption in public procurement is a structural phenomenon so that the term ‘procurement’ seems synonymous with ‘corruption.’”
However, Dr. Houngnikpo stressed that governments must also strengthen the transparency of public administration and the financial system and establish trust in the relationship between government and citizens. Additionally, he said, reform-minded governments must develop the institutional framework for the prevention of corruption and promote compliance with ethical values inherent in good governance.