June 2011

  • African Leaders Share Thoughts about Democracy

    special plenClick here to view more photos from this event. The Arab Spring has already been a watershed event and generated a great deal of debate about democracy in the Middle East and Africa. On June 16, participants at the 2011 Senior Leaders Seminar (SLS) attended a special plenary titled Africa: What Future for Democracy?. On the dais were H.E. Elkana Odembo, Kenyan Ambassador to the United States; Brigadier General Kani Diabaté, military surgeon for the Malian Ministry of Defense; and Ms. Segakweng Tsiane, Permanent Secretary at the Botswana Ministry of Defense, Justice and Security. Ambassador William M. Bellamy (ret.), ACSS Director, moderated the special plenary. Panelists were invited to review the state of democracy in Africa in the wake of the Arab Spring and to offer their insights about political developments on the continent. Ambassador Odembo set the stage for the discussions. He focused on the path to democracy in Sub-Saharan countries and talked about Kenya's recent experience in power-sharing and constitutional reform. Ambassador Odembo stressed the importance of strict separation of powers as a sine qua non condition for democracy. He urged African countries to respect the will of their citizens and promote free and fair elections as the best path to democracy. However, he underscored that elections are merely one condition out of many for a healthy democracy. Ambassador Odembo cautioned the international community to think about the long-term consequences of its foreign policy actions in Africa. As an example, Ambassador Odembo discussed the future of South Sudan. He opined that for a long time the international community focused on the referendum that led to the separation of the South and North, with too little attention given to what would happen after South Sudan becomes an independent country on July 9, 2011. Following Ambassador Odembo’s presentation, Permanent Secretary Tsiane pointed out that Botswana has always been a beacon for democracy in Africa. “Democracy for us in not a luxury, it is a normal way of living, a normal thing for our citizens,” she said. She recalled the pledge of current President of Botswana, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, who promised when he assumed office in 2008 to abide by 3 Ds: Democracy, Development, and Dignity. Turning to recent events in North Africa, Permanent Secretary Tsiane said that what happened in Egypt and Tunisia must be considered a wakeup call for African leaders at the highest level. The Arab Spring emerged because those in power failed their citizens, she noted. However, uprisings should not be an option over dialogue, she concluded. The ability of citizens and their governments to dialogue and seek consensus is critically important. The final speaker, Brigadier General Diabaté, shared her many experiences with peacekeeping and post-conflict resolution. She pointed out that in recent times, there has been a significant shift in favor of gender equality and greater interest in gender issues, including the role of women in African armies. Significant political reforms have also invigorated civil society and energized women’s organizations and movements across Africa, providing fresh opportunities for state and non-state actors alike to mobilize around issues of gender equality. While acknowledging these critical and significant changes, she acknowledged that a lot more still needs to be done to advance the course of gender equality in Africa. General Diabaté insisted on the need for the international community to empower African armies and build their capacities for post conflict resolution with an emphasis on gender and protection of minorities. She warned against the surge of religious radicalism in the Sahel and stressed the need for regional cooperation to face down this challenge. All panelists agreed on the necessity of civilian control over the army, the link between instability and underdevelopment, and the need to take into account African perspectives when putting in place conflict resolution strategies. The Q&A session that followed the presentations showed participants’ interests in U.S.-African relations and the fight against poverty in Africa. Questions about civil-military relations and bumps on the path to democracy were also discussed. At the end of the session, Ambassador Bellamy thanked the panelists and the participants for their lively contributions. He pledged that ACSS will continue to foster these sorts of dialogues in the future.
  • Senior Leaders Seminar Participants Discuss Transnational Issues


     On Tuesday, June 14, Senior Leaders Seminar participants attended two plenary sessions about transnational issues. Dr. Benjamin Nickels of the Africa Center and Ms. Laurence Aida Ammour from GéopoliSud Consultance presented on Transnational Crimes and Terrorism. Dr. Nickels described three transnational issues that he believes are important in Africa. The first, international terrorism, is most threatening in Eastern and North Africa. He explained that two terrorist groups, Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), pose the biggest terrorist threat to African security. Both of these groups have orchestrated or participated in numerous attacks. The second transnational threat, drug trafficking, is prevalent in West Africa, where the sub-region has become a transit point for drugs travelling from South America to Europe. A third issue is human trafficking and its ties to forced labor and sexual exploitation. Dr. Nickels explained that South Africa is a hub for this activity. Dr. Nickels argued that while it is difficult to define transnational threats, they can be understood as threats that transcend national borders and have been exacerbated by the growth of globalization. Transnational threats are often ambiguous and complicated, and they may require solutions outside of the military.

    Following Dr. Nickels, Ms. Ammour discussed terrorism in the Sahel in greater depth. She explained that we have reason to be both optimistic and wary regarding this issue, which has escalated significantly over the past decade. The good news is that Sahelian nations such as Mali have begun to proactively attack terrorism using numerous tools such as diplomatic negotiation, military attacks, and regionalization. The bad news, however, is that terrorism and AQIM are expanding into Libya due to the turmoil there. Since 2003 AQIM has expanded from southern Algeria into the Sahelian nations and has recently turned to criminalization. Ms. Ammour explained that AQIM and other terrorist groups have become involved in drug trafficking, human smuggling, and other transnational crimes, supporting and allying themselves to criminal organizations. Ms. Ammour concluded her presentation by examining the developments in Libya and how government weapons caches have been looted and weapons are now proliferating around the Sahel and into the hands of many terrorist operatives. However, she believes that the Libyan crisis has fostered greater regionalization and cooperation among the Sahelian states.

    The second session of the day featured Andrea W. Lockwood, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy for Eurasia, Africa and the Middle East, who gave a presentation entitled, Managing Natural Resource Competition. Ms. Lockwood discussed how Africa is rich in energy resources and how these resources will play a large part in Africa’s growth in the coming years. According to Lockwood, the U.S. wants to facilitate education in effective and clean energy use and development. She discussed the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a program that assists and encourages states to provide transparency vis-à-vis their energy use, production, and extraction. She explained that many African countries are already members with many more candidates for membership. Lockwood emphasized that the U.S. Government encourages African governments to reinvest their natural resource revenues in infrastructure, so as to improve access to power and energy—key catalysts for economic growth. Ms. Lockwood concluded her presentation by stating that the United States remains committed to assisting in energy development on the African continent.


  • Angola’s Foreign Policy: Pragmatic Recalibrations

    By Dr. Assis Malaquias, Africa Center for Strategic Studies | May 2011 assis-acss-2

    The interconnectedness between domestic security and international relations has defined Angola’s post-colonial history. To survive various domestic security challenges, the country deployed considerable resources in two areas. Internally, Angola invested disproportionately in a strong security sector to deal with the immediate threats posed by opposing parties. Internationally, it focused diplomatic efforts on nurturing relations with key strategic allies, notably the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and Cuba, to help shape external environments to its advantage. This strategy has succeeded in ensuring regime survival.

    With the end of the civil war and as the regime sought to consolidate its gains, an important foreign policy recalibration took place that resulted in the development of a strategic partnership with China. Recently, internal expectations and demands for fast economic growth within a democratic political system have meant that relations with mature democracies like the US are likely to take precedence.

    This paper assesses the trajectory of Angola’s foreign policy as a reflection of its desire to manage three key historical challenges. These are survival, between independence in 1975 and the end of the civil war in 2002; reconstruction and growth, from the end of the civil war to the present; and the approaching task of democratic development. The paper suggests that for each stage, Angola has embraced a major international partner – the former USSR for survival; China for reconstruction and growth; and the US for democratic development.

    Read the Paper [PDF]

  • Senior Leaders Seminar Continues to Analyze Strategic Issues in Africa

    sls_2011The 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. 

    arthur-118Mr. 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.

  • (Français) L’Ambassadeur Stéphane Gompertz brosse un tableau de la Politique Française en Afrique devant des Leaders Africains Réunis à Washington, D.C.

    Devant une assistance particulièrement intéressée, l’ambassadeur Stéphane Gompertz,  Directeur Afrique Océan Indien au Ministère Français des affaires étrangères a brossé un tableau exhaustif de la politique africaine de la France sous la présidence de Nicolas Sarkozy.

    stephane_gompertzPour Stéphane Gompertz, l’axe principal de la politique française en Afrique tient compte de l’évolution de l’Afrique au cours des deux dernières décennies, tout en se basant sur le discours prononcé  par Nicolas Sarkozy au Cap en février 2008, un discours qui promet alors une modernisation de la politique de la France en Afrique, marquée notamment par la  transparence et la renégociation des accords militaires.

    En premier lieu, l’Ambassadeur Gompertz a commencé par reconnaitre au continent africain depuis le début des années 2000 une croissance économique forte, une bonne résistance à la crise économique mondiale de 2007, et des perspectives pour le moins encourageantes sur le plan macro économique. Naturellement, l’arrivée de nouveaux investisseurs comme le Brésil, la Chine et l’Inde, très impliqués dans la construction d’infrastructures n’est pas étrangère à ce redécollage de l’Afrique et oblige les pays occidentaux, France y compris, à repenser leur approche stratégique.

    En politique, la France refuse désormais de s’ingérer dans les affaires internes des pays africains, sauf dans le cadre du respect des résolutions de l’ONU comme ce fut le cas en Cote d’Ivoire (Résolution 1975) et en Libye (Résolution 1973). La France doit également réévaluer son approche de l’aide  à l’Afrique. Il s’agit pour l’Hexagone de développer de nouveaux moyens d’intervention, de nouveaux modes de financement. La France promeut notamment depuis quelques années l’instauration d’une taxe sur les transactions financières pour financer l’aide au développement, à l’instar de la taxe de solidarité sur les billets d'avion. Cette taxe internationale, créé par l’ONU en 2006,  est dorénavant prélevée sur le prix des billets pour financer l'organisme international Unitaidpour lutter principalement contre les pandémies (SIDA, paludisme, tuberculose) à l'origine de 6 millions de morts par an dans le monde.

    Stephane Gompertz, a également abordé les questions d’actualité,  notamment l’intervention militaire de la communauté internationale en Libye. L’ambassadeur n’a pas caché l’existence de désaccords entre la France et certains de ses partenaires africains. La question libyenne a d’ailleurs été l’un des points centraux de la discussion qui a suivi la présentation de l’ambassadeur français. L’autre sujet d’intérêt lors de cet échange a été la présence militaire française en Afrique. A ce propos,  Stéphane Gompertz a souligné le fait que la France avait entrepris la renégociation de tous les Accords de Défense existants (huit) pour les remplacer par des Accords de Coopération d'un nouveau type. Dénoncant le mythe de la « Françafrique », il a affirmé que  que la transparence est le meilleur remède contre les suspicions et les fantasmes qui continuent d'entourer les relations de la France avec l'Afrique. Ainsi, ces nouveaux accords seront systématiquement publiés, a-t-il précisé. Cinq accords de ce type ont déjà été révisés et signés avec le Togo, le Cameroun, la République centrafricaine, le Gabon et les Comores.. Les négociations sont en cours avec plusieurs autres pays. Pour l’ambassadeur Gompertz, conformément à l’axe politique du Président Sarkozy,  la présence militaire française en Afrique doit désormais servir principalement à aider l'Afrique à bâtir son propre dispositif de sécurité collective

  • ACSS Senior Leaders Seminar Concludes its First Week

    [caption id="attachment_13933" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Dr. Assis Malaquias, Academic Chair for Defense Economics, and Dr. Mathurin C. Houngnikpo, Academic Chair of Civil-Military Relations"]malaquias_houngnikpo[/caption] The Africa Center’s Senior Leaders Seminar continued its successful first week on Tuesday, June 7, 2011 with a session titled Political Trends and Challenges in Africa. Dr. Mathurin C. Houngnikpo, the Academic Chair of Civil-Military Relations at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, immediately stressed the study of African history in understanding and finding solutions for current challenges. For instance, through the study of history, one can find that Africans had a form of democracy in their tribal systems; the kings of many tribes had checks and balances as well as a need to ensure the legitimacy of their rule. He voiced optimism that Africa can continue to make strides towards democratic systems, since there were pre-colonial antecedents. Dr. Houngnikpo cautioned, however, that “elections alone do not equal democracy.” The second plenary session of the day was titled Economic Trends and Challenges. The presenter, Dr. Assis Malaquias, is the Chair of Defense Economics at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. He immediately set about explaining the economy of Africa before and after the recent economic crisis. Unfortunately, the crisis interrupted the best decade for African economies since independence. Africa is recovering from the global economic crisis, but growth rates still remain too low to ensure that Africa will meet the Millennium Development Goals. On Wednesday, June 8, Dr. Mathurin Houngnikpo presented a plenary session on Human Security and Democratic Governance of the Security Sector in Africa. Dr. Houngnikpo’s presentation was largely concerned with civil-military relations in Africa and the submission of national militaries to their civilian governments. Stating “the army is an extension of the state, not visa-versa,” Dr. Houngnikpo criticized contemporary abuses of power by African militaries contending that modern African armed forces are descendent from colonial era institutions that are ill suited to providing the necessary human security to civilians. Dr. Houngnikpo also highlighted the dangers that corruption, nepotism, and the privatization of the military pose to democracy, civil-military relations, and national security strategy. To meet the challenges of reforming and establishing democratic control of African security institutions, Dr. Houngnikpo proposed the use of constitutional, legislative, and budgetary mechanisms to restrain military independence. Dr. Houngnikpo finished his presentation emphasizing the need for civilian governments to craft a National Defense Strategy that comprehensively identifies the tools available to the state, evaluates security threats, and determines the national interests and goals of the people. The series of thought provoking and insightful presentations continued Thursday morning, June 9, with panelists Dr. Robert H. Dorff and Dr. Medhane Tadesse presenting a discussion of Security Strategy Development and Security Sector Reform, respectively. The two parallel discussions transitioned well from Dr. Houngnikpo’s presentation the day before, with Dr. Dorff and Dr. Tadesse providing greater detail as to the objectives of National Security Strategy development and the principles and objectives of Security Sector Reform. Dr. Dorff, the General Douglas MacArthur Chair of Research at the Strategic Studies Institute, began the session by presenting strategy as the balancing of objectives (ends), concepts (ways), and resources (means). He continued by defining National Security Strategy as “the overarching strategy of a nation-state as it pursues its interests through the application of the instruments of power.” Dr. Dorff emphasized that a state’s security strategy must not be static, but a dynamic process that can adapt to shifting conditions in the strategic environment as well as react to strategic choices made by other actors in the system. Dr. Tadesse, who is the Senior Security Sector Reform Advisor to the African Union, criticized the security concepts of the past and discussed the post-cold war paradigm shift that laid the foundation for modern security sector reform. Following World War II, the military served only to protect against external enemies, sedition, and civil unrest. The modern military, however, must provide for human security including the freedom from fear and want. To meet the growth of individual/human security, African security sectors must be reformed to address poverty, violence, and the state itself as threats to the individual. Security sector reform must be conducted at the citizen, community and government (national) level, yet Dr. Tadesse strongly emphasized the role regional cooperation plays in successful reform. Thursday discussions concluded with an intriguing plenary session on Africa’s Peace and Security Architecture, presented by panelists Dr. Issaka Souaré, Senior Researcher for the African Conflict Prevention Programme at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, and Mr. Rashidali Beekun, a representative of the African Union. Dr. Souaré began by identifying the institutional structures that make up Africa’s Peace and Security Architecture, highlighting the role played by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union. The Council, established in 2003, is composed of fifteen members regularly rotated among African countries. Other pillars of the peace and security architecture are the African Standby Force, the Panel of the Wise, the Continental Early Warning System, and the Peace Fund. Dr. Souaré concluded with a warning that Africa’s Peace and Security Architecture was threatened by a lack of dedicated experts and military attachés to assist the Council as well as persisting financial issues. (To date the majority of funding comes from the European Union and other non-African sources.) Mr. Beekun finished up the session with an informative presentation drawing on his experiences with the African Union’s peacekeeping forces in Darfur. Mr. Beekun stressed the need for African contributions of well-trained police officers, stating that his experiences in Darfur illustrated their utility in bringing about a comprehensive reduction in tensions.
  • General William E. “Kip” Ward receives the 2011 ACSS Visionary Award

    [caption id="attachment_13905" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="U.S. Army General William E. “Kip” Ward and ACSS Director Ambassador William M. Bellamy (ret.)"]ward_visionary[/caption] Click here to view photos from this event.

    The Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) presented its annual “Visionary Award: Achievement in Peace and Security” to U.S. Army General William E. “Kip” Ward during an award ceremony and luncheon held in his honor on June 8, 2011, in conjunction with the ACSS Senior Leaders Seminar in Washington, D.C. The Visionary Award is given to a person whom the Center deems to have made an outstanding contribution towards promoting democracy, good governance, improving civil-military relations, fostering cooperation in the security arena, and countering ideological support for terrorism.   Through this award, the Africa Center recognizes General Ward’s numerous achievements and contribution to peace and security in Africa as the first Commander of United States Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM).

    [caption id="attachment_13904" align="alignright" width="300" caption="U.S. Army General William E. “Kip” Ward, General Lamine Cissé, former Chief of Staff and Minister of Interior of Senegal, Nigerian General Martin Luther Agwai (ret.), former Chief of Defense Staff"]ward_cisse_agwai[/caption]

    The award ceremony took place in front of an audience of approximately 70 senior-level military officers and civilian officials from Africa at the Double Tree Hotel in Arlington, VA. United States Government officials from the Department of State and the Department of Defense were also in the attendance as well as ambassadors and embassy representatives from several African and European countries. 

    Ambassador Mary Yates, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council was unable to attend but sent a letter honoring General Ward, which was read aloud. Ambassador Yates, formerly General Ward’s Deputy for Civil and Military Affairs at U. S. AFRICOM, recalled the many obstacles he overcame while building a new unified Command in the U.S. military. Her words also praised his leadership, his morale boosting pep talks, and “his genuine admiration, enthusiasm and affection for the African continent and its many leaders – civilian and military.”

    Having been honored last year by General Ward as the 2010 recipient of the Visionary Award, Nigerian General Martin Luther Agwai (ret.), former Chief of Defense Staff, returned the favor this year. He pointed out in his remarks that General Ward is only the 5th African American to reach the rank of four-star general. He added that his colleague and friend Kip Ward “will be remembered in Africa by the military because of his effort in providing training assistance to hundreds of military and civilian personnel from forty-four African countries; resulting in the building of strong interstate military relationships….He worked closely with the U.S. State Department as well as other stakeholders to help the growth of democracy in Africa by putting necessary institutions in the area of rule of law and human rights.”

    According to Ambassador William M. Bellamy (ret.), Director of ACSS, it was not difficult to decide on General Ward as the recipient of this year’s Visionary Award. He is an exemplary leader whose vision and commitment to Africa are unwavering. He went on to add in his remarks, “Is there any area here where Kip Ward has not excelled? From enhancing military professionalism, to reforming military organizations, to promoting good governance and respect for human rights, to his distinguished service in addressing a wide array of security challenges in Africa - Kip Ward has set an example of inspired and visionary leadership. It was thus a pleasure not so much to select him as to acclaim him as the ACSS Visionary Award winner for 2011.”

    Honored and humble, General Ward reminded the audience that building U.S. AFRICOM wouldn’t have been possible without the support and the hard work of his teammates in Stuttgart and his African partners, whom he thanked wholeheartedly. He also said, “The work that all of us here attempt to do in support of peace and security in Africa is notable and important work for human kind and our global community…In this effort, having reliable partners-- partners who listen and learn as opposed to dictating and demanding-- is important. Partners who seek to understand from the perspective of those who are impacted when security and peace are lacking. Partners who know that development, economic and social development are essential pillars in the stability of the continent.”

    Previous honorees include Alpha Oumar Konaré, Chairman of the African Union Commission and former president of the Republic of Mali, Mrs Graça Machel, former first lady of Mozambique and South Africa, General Lamine Cissé (ret.) from Senegal, John Githongo, a renowned Kenyan activist, and Nigerian General Martin Agwai (ret.). General William E. “Kip” Ward is the first American to receive this award.

    The Africa Center for Strategic Studies, a Department of Defense regional center, supports U.S. policy by bringing civilian and military leaders together for informed debate on current security challenges facing Africa and the international community.  For more information about the Africa Center, visit www.africacenter.org.

  • Senior Leaders Seminar Concludes First Day with Presentations on Emerging Threats and Security and Development

    [caption id="attachment_13878" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Guest speaker Mr. Nigel Roberts, Director and Special Representative of the World Bank’s 2011 World Development Report"]Nigel Roberts world bank[/caption]

    Click here to view photos from this event.

    The first plenary session of the Senior Leaders Seminar opened on June 6, 2011 with the Africa Center’s Dr. Joseph Siegle introducing panelists Dr Benjamin Nickels and Dr. Medhane Tadesse.  The two speakers discussed the current and emerging security threats and vulnerabilities faced by African states and proposed solutions for building state security and an effective civil-military apparatus.

    Dr. Nickels, an expert on counterterrorism in Africa, set the direction of the discussion by listing what he considered the main security threats to Africa: non-state actors; internal divisions between economic, ethnic, and religious groups; and environmental threats such as climate change and disease.  Dr. Nickels followed with possible solutions to alleviate these “societal tensions” before they turn into violence, particularly stressing the concept of “human security”, which involves broadening the focus of security sector actors from protecting states and regimes to protecting individual citizens as well.  This approach, designed to ensure human rights, requires long-term improvements in civil-military relations and security sector reform.

    Dr. Medhane Tadesse’s identified four key vulnerabilities in African security: the “nature of the state” and weak institutions; ongoing legacies of war and violence; ecological and environmental concerns; and international security challenges.  Dr. Tadesse stressed the weak nature of African states throughout his presentation, noting that for historical and other reasons, many “African states do not represent the interest and characters of their populations”.  Dr. Tadesse argued that weak government institutions and the inability or unwillingness of some African governments to defend their borders and citizens hinders state legitimacy in Africa.  Dr. Tadesse, who is the Senior Security Sector Reform Advisor to the African Union, identified the creation of strong and autonomous government institutions and the subordination of the security sector to governmental authority as key areas for progress. He finished his presentation by highlighting the need for regional approaches to many of Africa’s transnational security challenges.

    The Senior Leaders Seminar successfully wrapped up its first full day with a special plenary session on “Security and Development” with guest speaker Mr. Nigel Roberts, Director and Special Representative of the World Bank’s 2011 World Development Report.  Mr. Roberts discussed the changing nature of modern violence, arguing that there has been a decline in the number of civil wars but a spike in other types of violence. He argued that international trafficking in drugs, people, and weapons was the greatest security threat to African countries.  Mr. Roberts attributed the rise of international crime and the associated cross-border conflicts to structural shifts at the end of the Cold War.

    Mr. Roberts stressed that violence is one of most important, if not the key, development issues of the day. In order to escape institutional fragility and endemic violence, Mr. Roberts contends that steps need to be taken to recreate confidence in public action (e.g. forging inclusive leadership coalitions) and to rebuild legitimate institutions. Mr. Roberts emphasized that the transformation of state institutions is a twenty to thirty year process and that violence prevention is a long-term, continuous process.
  • African Senior Leaders Gather for Seminar in Washington, D.C.

    Ambassador_Huddleston_sls_2011Click here to view photos from this event. The Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) held the Official Opening Ceremony for its Senior Leaders Seminar (SLS) on June 6 in Arlington, VA. The seminar (June 5-17) will provide a forum for senior-level military officers and civilian officials from Africa, the U.S., and Europe, as well as representatives from international and regional organizations, to review and analyze the evolving African security environment and to discuss strategies for addressing challenges and for enhancing Africa’s security. Sixty-five participants from thirty-seven countries are attending the event.

    Addressing the participants in his welcoming speech, Africa Center Director Ambassador William Bellamy (ret.) pointed out that the SLS has a special place in ACSS programs because it is the longest running program of the Africa Center. He also emphasized the changes throughout Africa over the past decade: strong economic growth, decline in conflicts, and an increasing number of transnational crimes, to name a few. While Ambassador Bellamy acknowledged that there are numerous security challenges facing the continent, he also pointed out that there are many reasons for optimism. “We have all come a long way since 1999, when the Africa Center began, and I am pleased that twelve years later, we are still here, talking to each other.”

    In her keynote address, Ambassador Vicki Huddleston, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs, said first and foremost, “It is a great pleasure and honor to speak to senior leaders from all across Africa.” She went on in her speech to provide an overview of the state of security in Africa, and assess the relationship between civilian governments and the security sector in Africa, explaining that this relationship is important to security, human rights, and democracy.

    Ambassador Huddleston also discussed the Arab Spring and its implications for the rest of the continent.  She reminded the audience that General Carter Ham had been the Commander of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) for only two weeks when the international engagement in Libya began. Even with such a short lead time, General Ham successfully set up a mission aimed to enforce the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 allowing the multinational coalition to protect civilians and implement a no-fly zone. Ambassador Huddleston pointed out that General Ham’s action  as commander of Operation Odyssey Dawn, the international military operation in Libya, was a bold example of how a senior leader can show courage and dedication while completing his mission.

    One of the participants said the talks by Ambassadors Bellamy and Huddleston were especially inspiring. “We need to hear more of this kind of lecture. But, we also need to have more opportunities like this one to share our views and experiences about our problems,” she said.

    ACSS launched the Senior Leaders Seminar series in 1999 as a means for senior-level Africans and their international partners to reflect collectively on the key strategic challenges Africa faces in the security realm. Through the Senior Leaders Seminar, the Africa Center seeks to promote critical analysis and a spirit of cooperation and partnership in addressing Africa’s current and emerging security challenges. These seminars provide a forum for senior military and civilian leaders from across the continent to share their experiences and work toward joint solutions to their common security problems.

    For more information regarding the Africa Center and its programs, please visit www.africacenter.org.