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  • Africa Center Hosts Outreach Symposium with Zambia Partners

    By Paul Nantulya, Africa Center for Strategic Studies P1010985LUSAKA, Zambia — The Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy, Dag Hammarskjöld Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies (DHIPS) and the ACSS Zambia Community hosted a Topical Outreach Program Series (TOPS) Symposium in Lusaka, Zambia, on March 25–27, 2014. Three symposia were held: the first, held on March 25, discussed the African Union (AU) architecture and emerging patterns of insecurity in the Southern African Development Community (SADC); the second, conducted on March 26, focused on national security and security sector reform and the third, held on March 27, discussed collaboration between the military and police in security sector reform. Each of these seminars brought together about 60 mid- to senior-level military, civilian and police professionals from the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs, Zambian Army, Air force, Zambia National Service and Zambia Police, Professionals from United Nations (UN) agencies, academia, and non-governmental organizations. The seminar on the African Union, which was held at the U.S. Embassy in Lusaka, examined the evolution of the African Union Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and SADC’s role in it. Dr. Njunga-Michael Mulikita, a Senior Lecturer at the Dag Hammarskjöld Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies (DHIPS), traced the development of the Southern African Peace and Security Architecture to the 1992 Windhoek Treaty establishing the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to replace the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC), a regional initiative established in 1980 to reduce the economic dependence of the newly independent states in the region on apartheid South Africa as part of a broader decolonization strategy. SADC, according to Dr. Mulikita, is the most peaceful and developed region in Africa with a comprehensive set of peace and security protocols, institutions and agreements. The SADC Organ for Politics, Defense and Security (OPDS), established in 1992, is the region’s link to the African Union Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). The community has established several institutions including an Early Warning System (EWS) in Gabarone, Botswana, the SADC Parliamentary Forum, in Windhoek, Namibia, the Regional Peacekeeping Training Center (RPTC) in Harare, Zimbabwe, and more recently the SADC Standby Brigade. Nevertheless, Dr. Mulikita observed, the community faces several challenges including tension between member states, resource deficits, social discontent and poor coordination between regional security mechanisms. Dr. Mulikita also cited several institutional weaknesses; the failure of the Early Warning System (EWS) to warn about impending conflicts; the lack of effective response mechanisms; the lack of a security sector reform (SSR) policy framework; and the lack of a mediation unit to facilitate dialogue between conflicting parties. He urged the AU and SADC to put more emphasis on institutional development and strengthening and the inclusion of civil society in the region’s peace and security activities. In the seminar on national security strategy held at the Mulungushi Conference Center in Lusaka, His Excellency Edgar Lungu, the Zambian Minister of Defense, announced that the Government would hold a referendum on the country’s new constitution to make the process as consultative as possible. “We will have ample time to go through the draft constitution and when we complete the process we will be guided by what the citizens’ want, if they want a referendum we will go with that even though it is an expensive venture to undertake,” he said. The Minister also praised the country’s security sector institutions for supporting the democratic process, which he singled out as the most important guarantee of Zambia’s national security. “Our defense and security institutions are among the oldest and most experienced in Southern Africa and continue to be the bedrock upon which our democracy and peace are anchored, that is why our country remains a bastion of peace since independence.” Ambassador Royson Mukwena, the Dean of the School of Social Sciences and Director of Research and Postgraduate Studies at Mulungushi University in Kabwe, Zambia, observed that Zambia, like many African countries, does not have a consolidated national security strategy. “No single document,” he argued, “can be referred to as Zambia’s definitive national security strategy. … The country’s actual strategy is scattered in several legal, constitutional and policy documents.” Ambassador Mukwena however revealed that Zambia is considering embarking on a process leading to the adoption of the country’s first official national security strategy. He identified the following threats to Zambia’s national security: high levels of poverty, economic underdevelopment, high unemployment, organized crime and corruption. Institutions with national security responsibilities include: the Zambia Defense Force (ZDF), Zambia Police, Zambia Security and Intelligence Service (ZSIS) and other institutions including the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC). Prof. Owen Sichone, the Director of the Dag Hammarskjöld Institute, stressed that citizens’ security and state security are inseparable from the full and free exercise by citizens of their civic and human rights. He urged Zambian security sector professionals to operate within the confines of the constitution and respect citizens’ civic and human rights. Because many of Zambia’s national security challenges are economic in nature, a viable national security strategy, in his view, has to be based on a framework of good governance and improved service delivery. Speaking at the symposium on security sector reform (SSR), on March 26, Mr. Thomas Dempsey, Assistant Professor and Academic Chair for Security Studies at ACSS, noted that the focus of national security was shifting from regime survival and state security to human security. This new approach to security, an approach that is articulated in several African national security strategy documents, is, according to Mr. Dempsey, “citizen-centric and community based; emphasizes the “linkages between security and development” and has at its core the objective of “serving the people.” He identified several core competencies for the military and police on 27 March. The core competencies for the military are: countering military threats, expeditionary capabilities, and developing rapid and scalable responses. Those for the police are: community presence, arresting authorities, limited and appropriate use of force and international as well as regional cooperation. Shared functions between the two include intelligence and information gathering and analysis. Putting these competencies into effect, according to Mr. Dempsey, requires the development a whole-of-government national and human security process that enables effective military and police collaboration and planning. A highlight of the three-day program was the creation of the ACSS Zambia (alumni) Chapter, the result of several months of work by the ACSS Zambia Community, U.S. Embassy, Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense and the Dag Hammarskjöld Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies (DHIP). The Chapter, which brings the number of ACSS Chapters in Africa to 33, will be embedded in the DHIPS. It brings together ACSS alumni from the Zambian general staff and command including several in senior leadership positions in the Army, Airforce and National Service as well as security sector professionals from civil society and academia. The Zambia Chapter is highly organized, motivated, and populated with experts in security strategy and challenges. The Topical Outreach Program Series (TOPS) is the Africa Center’s instrument for providing close support to African partners through rigorous and structured engagement with alumni. ACSS is the pre-eminent Department of Defense (DOD) institution for strategic security studies, research and outreach in Africa. The Africa Center engages African partner states and institutions through rigorous academic and outreach programs that build strategic capacity and foster long-term, collaborative relationships. Over the past 14 years, more than 6,000 African and international leaders have participated in over 200 ACSS programs
  • Africa Center Co-Hosts Symposium in Gabon on Regional Maritime Safety and Security Cooperation

    tops_gabon_2014LIBREVILLE, Gabon — The Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) co-hosted a symposium on Maritime Safety and Security (MSS) in Libreville on March 13, 2014, in partnership with the ACSS Community Chapter in Gabon and the U.S. Embassy. The event was part of the Africa Center’s Topical Outreach Program Series (TOPS), which allows ACSS to maintain an active network of relationships with community groups in nations across Africa. The gathering featured U.S. and Gabonese officials who shared their views on the security challenges in Gabon and in the Gulf of Guinea. » Photo gallery of Maritime Safety and Security TOPS symposium in Gabon Dr. Assis Malaquias, ACSS Chair for Defense Economics, discussed the fundamental principles in developing a national maritime security strategy. He also provided regional context of maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea. Noting that “maritime security strategy is much more than just a naval strategy,” Dr. Malaquias underscored the need for an interagency and whole of government approach to MSS at all levels. Dr. Malaquias also underlined the key role representatives have to play by recognizing and understanding the domain and the threats, and giving the maritime domain funding in accordance with its importance. Maritime threats are rarely appropriated the resources they require, given the extent of the security threat emanating from the maritime domain in the Gulf of Guinea, he noted. In that regard, he said states in the region need to evaluate whether their primary threats are land- or sea-based and, through their strategy formulation, assign resources as appropriate. Commander Loïc Moudouma, of the Gabonese Navy, focused in his speech on why the participation of Central African states in developing regional maritime security strategy is crucial. He then provided an overview of the collaboration between the Africa Center and the Economic Commission of Central African States (ECCAS), collaboration which in June 2013 resulted in the heads of state summit in Yaoundé and approval of the Yaoundé memorandum and operational agreement.  Commander Moudouma also cited specific instances of recent pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, namely the MT Kerala in January 2014 off the coast of Angola and the MV Cotton in July 2013 off the coast of Gabon, as proof that pirates are aware of the gaps in regional cooperation and seek to take advantage of them. The consensus among participants was that maritime piracy is a growing problem that needs to be addressed on a regional basis. Moreover, petroleum assets and the shipping of goods are critical for the economic viability of countries within the Gulf of Guinea shores. Therefore, a safe and secure maritime domain is essential to bolster economic development. The Africa Center is the pre-eminent Department of Defense institution for strategic security studies, research, and outreach in Africa. ACSS offers a range of academic symposiums, workshops, and programs throughout Africa, the United States, and Europe. Since 1999, more than 6,000 African and international leaders have participated in ACSS programs.
  • “Partners not Enemies”: ACSS Hosts Media & Security Sector Program in Liberia

    By Paul Nantulya, Africa Center for Strategic Studies Liberia06MONROVIA, Liberia — An Africa Center academic outreach visit to Liberia included in-depth presentations on the frequently distrustful relationship between the news media and security institutions, as well the media’s role in security sector reform. The often strained relationship between the media and national security institutions such as the military is as old as the foundations of the modern state, and African countries are no exception. The reason typically cited is that, like most bureaucracies, the security services prefer to operate behind closed doors – a preference heightened by the need to prevent potential enemies from learning harmful information. The press, n the other hand, responds to citizens’ demand for information and accountability, especially in the case of institutions as powerful and potentially dangerous as the security services. The Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) and its Liberia Community Chapter, in conjunction with the United States Embassy discussed these issues at the Topical Outreach Program Series (TOPS) symposium, in Monrovia, Liberia, March 2–7, 2014. The symposium brought together ACSS community members, public affairs officers from Liberian security sector agencies, editorial staff and reporters from various news organizations in Monrovia, and U.S. Embassy staff. Prof. Thomas Dempsey, the ACSS Chair for National Security Studies and a formerly U.S. military attaché in Liberia, explained that the relationship between the media and security sector requires careful and constant balancing. “This delicate relationship is a domain in public affairs that always needs to be negotiated and defined in a constructive way as part of the wider effort to implement institutional and political reforms, especially in the Liberian context,” he told participants. “Liberia in many ways is a unique case,” Prof. Dempsey said, “because a strategic decision was made to disband the army and rebuild it anew to reflect a fundamentally new vision of what Liberia should look like after decades of war and conflict.” “One of the most important lessons from this experience is that security sector reform, as well as the management of national security in general, should be an integral part of the broader processes and philosophy of political, social and institutional change,” he continued. Prof. Dempsey in his remarks also stressed the need for media and national security professionals to understand each other’s culture and roles in order to improve their relationship. Because the press is generally more fragmented, competitive and diverse, it can be unaware of larger security sector reform realities, he said. The military and other members of the security sector, on the other hand, tend to view the media as intrusive, irresponsible, and unaware of how security professionals operate. In extreme cases, security professionals might even view media professionals as threats to national security. “The Liberian model shows that the relationship, although tense, can be managed in healthy and constructive ways that stay true to the new principles that Liberians have fashioned to take their country forward after so much strife,” Prof. Dempsey concluded. Mr. James Momoh, a media consultant and ACSS Adjunct Faculty member, highlighted the media’s role in security sector reform. “Media professionals have a responsibility to familiarize themselves with the democratic principles that Liberia is trying to apply and advocate for these in not only dealing with the security sector but larger issues as well,” he counselled. Mr. Momoh also stressed the importance of professionalism. “To be credible, the media needs to hold its professionals to the same standards of accountability, professionalism, human rights, and transparency that it expects of the security sector and government,” he told participants. “There is an implicit assumption in many African contexts that civil-society institutions and activists are necessarily democratic and accountable, and yet this is not always the case.” “Conversely,” he continued, “democracy, good governance, and human rights are viewed by governments as foreign concepts.” Following that line of reasoning, “those promoting them must therefore be pursuing foreign agendas that might undermine the state.” Both assumptions, in Mr. Momoh’s view, undermine the process of nation-building in Africa. He argued that the media, as well as broader civil society, must apply democratic values and use democratic methods in their activities. Governments on the other hand should be aware that the concepts of human rights, human dignity, and democracy are intrinsic to African culture and aspirations. “How else can we explain the fact that African countries, on their own initiative, crafted the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, New Partnership for African Development and the African Conference on Democracy, Elections and Good Governance?” he asked. “What is needed therefore is a shift in attitude, both by media professionals and civil society as a whole, and the government and Liberians seem to be on the right track in as far as this is concerned,” Mr. Momoh concluded. Five key issues emerged in the plenary discussions:
    • First, the institutional cultures of the security sector and media, need not be in conflict.
    • Second, security sector reform should be part of the broader reform agenda and not isolated.
    • Third, Liberia’s post-conflict environment provides abundant opportunities to test and debate perspectives in ways that were not possible before the war.
    • Fourth, there is need to promote greater debate on national security issues within civil society.
    • Fifth, it is imperative that the security sector establishes a solid working relationship with the media, that it integrates them into its strategy – and that it not keep media professionals at arm’s length.
    The spirit of the debates was captured by a Liberian defense official who spoke at the program: “This exercise is perfectly fine … the press and security sector should work hand in hand … we are after all, Liberians and we must be bold in our efforts to build a new society … our constitution demands it, and our citizens expect it.”
  • Africa Center Co-Hosts Symposium in Cameroon on Regional Counter-Terrorism Cooperation and Combatting Illicit Trafficking

    Cameroon TOPSYAOUNDÉ, Cameroon — The Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) co-hosted a symposium on regional counter-terrorism cooperation and the fight against illicit trafficking in Yaoundé on Wednesday, November 20, 2013, in partnership with the ACSS Community Chapter in Cameroon and the U.S. Embassy. The event took place at the Yaoundé International War College (Ecole supérieure internationale de guerre de Yaoundé [ESIG]). The more than 100 participants included Africa Center community members from the Cameroon Armed Forces, the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the University of Yaoundé. Also in the attendance was a diverse international group of 42 ESIG students representing nearly 20 nationalities, including the United States, who are currently in the midst of a 10-month study program at ESIG. Another group of 12 students from the National School of Security Forces (Ecole nationale de forces de sécurité [ENFS]) attended as well. The presentations focused on defining and improving regional cooperation in countering terrorism and the threats associated with illicit trafficking.

    » Photo Gallery: Cameroon TOPS Symposium on Regional Counter-Terrorism Cooperation and Combatting Illicit Trafficking

    In his opening remarks, ESIG Commandant Major General Esaïe Ngambou expressed his satisfaction with the selection of topics. “The Africa Center chose two challenging issues that are at the heart of our current preoccupations: regional cooperation against terrorism and illicit trafficking.” He also mentioned that this year’s annual ESIG colloquium will focus on border security, making the symposium a fitting beginning to the colloquium’s preparations. Colonel Gabriel Metogo Atangana, the ACSS Chapter President, explained the pertinence of the topics discussed, at a time when Cameroon faces the challenges of Boko Haram’s spillover in the northern part of the country. “ACSS has maintained for nearly 10 years now a close cooperation with the armed forces and law enforcement forces of Cameroon,” he said. “The choice of today’s topics is explained by the magnitude and damaging effects, as well as the consequences in the communities which are affected by these threats,” he noted. Mr. John Harney, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Project Manager at the J5 Counternarcotics and Law Enforcement Division, provided an overview of illicit trafficking and laid out how AFRICOM deals with the issue. He also pointed out interagency efforts to harmonize the U.S. government effort in building West African capacities to combat transnational organized crime, particularly narcotic trafficking. “It takes a network to defeat a network,” Mr. Harney noted, highlighting the importance of international cooperation in defeating international illicit trafficking networks. The consensus following the symposium was that Cameroonians’ challenges are global challenges. As a result, it will take an all-inclusive effort—for the U.S. and African partners—to deter and defeat transnational threats and provide a security environment conducive to good governance and development. Participants also agreed that deeper regional cooperation and international cooperation are keys to success.
  • ACSS holds TOPS Symposium on National Security Strategy in Malawi

    ACSS National Security Strategy symposium, Lilongwe, MalawiLILONGWE, Malawi — The Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) cohosted a daylong symposium on “National Security Strategy: Development, Resourcing, and Implementation,” in partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Lilongwe and the ACSS Malawi Community Chapter, September 10, 2013, at the Sunbird Capital Hotel in Lilongwe. The symposium convened a group of 60 security sector experts, including government officials from the United States and Malawi, members of the ACSS Malawi Community Chapter, members of the Malawi National Assembly, members of the National Security Policy Working Group, academics, and NGOs. The symposium discussed the importance and structure of a national security strategy as well as the role the legislative branch plays in the strategy’s implementation. The timing and content of the Africa Center program were intended to support Malawi’s ongoing development of a national security strategy, with a target completion date in the next several months. A diverse Malawian working group has been convened from across the security sector and stakeholder agencies, including representatives from the Ministries of Defense, Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs and Justice, Malawi Police Service, Immigration Department, Office of the President and National Intelligence Bureau, to hold consultative sessions and write a working draft with the input they have collected in numerous consultations. The President of the ACSS Malawi Community Chapter, Major General Rodrick Chimowa opened the symposium program by explaining the Chapter was created by ACSS Malawi alumni in 2012 as a way to continue having discussions about relevant security issues.  He also pointed out that the Chapter doesn’t have any political affiliation. ACSS acting director Mr. Michael Garrison said it is imperative that security sector professionals and the members of the civil society in Malawi be provided an opportunity to interact and reflect on ways to create a national security strategy that strengthens democratic governance in the nation. Representing the U.S. government at the opening, Ambassador Jeanine Jackson, U.S. Ambassador to Malawi, stressed the importance of the meeting. “The U.S. Government is strongly committed to assisting its African partners to effectively manage their security sectors,” Amb. Jackson said. “A carefully crafted and well-implemented national security strategy will help ensure that all elements of the security sector provide safety and security to citizens and communities in ways that are responsive to their needs while observant of human rights and democratic governance.”

    » Ambassador Jackson's bio

    » Read Ambassador Jackson's opening remarks The daylong workshop also featured several briefings on National Security Strategy and Policy. Assistant Professor Thomas Dempsey, ACSS Academic Chair for Security Studies, discussed the importance and process of developing a national security strategy. He said that in many African countries that are have gone through or are in the process of developing an NSS policy, there is evidence of great efforts being made to organize consultative session with different government agencies, the police, military, civilians, minority and religious groups, etc. In contrast, he mentioned there is often less consultation for similar NSS development in the United States. Using examples from the United States, France, South Africa and Liberia, he outlined steps for creating a national security strategy and discussed how it can be implemented.  Explaining the role of the legislative branch, he said that while Malawi’s National Assembly is not yet involved in the process, Assembly members will be involved when the policy draft has been completed and approval is sought after for budget and implementation. “The discussions over the past two days demonstrate how much progress the Government of Malawi has made in developing its national security strategy,” Professor Dempsey said. “We at the Africa Center are delighted to be of assistance to our Malawian partners in this endeavor, which will allow the Malawian security services to more effectively address the needs of Malawian citizens and communities.”

    » Read Professor Dempsey's bio

    View Professor Dempsey's presentations: Major General Clement Namangale, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces and member of the Malawi National Security Policy Working Group, offered a candid and informative presentation on how the Malawians view national security strategy and the progress they have made thus far. NSS involves “a coordination, packaging, and use of all instruments of national power to secure a country’s core national interests by dealing with the core threats,” Maj. Gen. Namangale said. “Malawi’s NSS must be supported by four pillars that constitute our national instruments of power, namely, diplomatic, economic, military and others.” He also discussed at length the challenges that are being encountered but concluded that there are many successes to share, including: commitment exists to successfully complete the task; input from consultative meetings is being included in the draft; there is better interagency cooperation and dialogue; and practitioners, academics, politicians are getting involved. Major General Rodrick Chimowa, President of the ACSS Malawi Community Chapter, hoped that the symposium has emphasized the need for an efficient National Security Strategy for Malawi, one that is adapted to citizens’ wishes. General Henry Odillo, Commander of the Malawian Armed Forces, closed out the symposium, saying it was a special day for the military and for Malawi as a country.  He emphasized the transparent and consultative process being implemented by the NSS Working Group during the development process and encouraged them to continue their successful practices.  The presence of the National Assembly members added great value to the discussion, he said, adding that he was impressed by the level of engagement by all present at the symposium. He also thanked Maj. Gen. Chimowa for his ACSS Chapter leadership and tasked the Chapter to continue to host activities and events to discuss security challenges for the security sector professionals in Malawi. The symposium was part of the Africa Center’s Topical Outreach Program Series (TOPS), which allows ACSS to maintain an active network of relationships with community groups in nations across Africa. During an Africa Center TOPS visit, a small academic and outreach team conducts a two- or three-day visit to nations with active ACSS communities once every one to two years to participate in workshops and symposiums. ACSS is the pre-eminent Department of Defense institution for strategic security studies, research, and outreach in Africa. The Africa Center engages African partner states and institutions through rigorous academic and outreach programs that build strategic capacity and foster long-term, collaborative relationships.