ECOWAS Commission seeks member states’ ownership of security sector governance reform07 Aug, 2018
Abuja, 7th August 2018. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)’ Commission is seeking the collective ownership of Security Sector Governance Reform (SSGR) for the region.
To this end, a two-day meeting of Governmental Experts of Member States on National Ownership and Implementation of the ECOWAS Policy Framework for SSGR began on the 7th of August 2018 in Abuja, Nigeria.
The experts are considering the core principles and essential features of the ECOWAS Policy Framework for SSGR. They are also expected to validate an Action Plan for the Policy Framework for the reform, and to endorse the rationale for establishing Interagency Working Group on SSGR in Member States, among others.
Welcoming delegates to the meeting, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Gen. Francis A. Behanzin, noted that the contribution of the Member States is very important for realising the ECOWAS’ goal of promoting regional peace, security and stability through supporting governance and reform of the security sector at the national level.
National Ownership, according to the Commissioner “is the starting point of all peace and security efforts and this Governmental Experts Meeting is intended to be a key catalyst and an enabler”.
In this regard, he stated that the relevant ECOWAS Policy Framework for SSGR articulates National Ownership as something that involves national responsibility, national commitment, and entails the political will to assess, develop, lead, implement, monitor and evaluate security sector governance and reform activities.
Highlighting the two significant components of the ECOWAS Policy Framework for SSGR as Human Security and Conflict Prevention, Gen. Behanzin’s keynote address stressed that sensible stakeholders “do not have to wait for crisis to erupt and for the capacity of our security sector to fall short before we take steps to improve it. In this sense, our SSGR is proactive”.
In his presentation which gave an overview of the ECOWAS Policy Framework for SSGR, the Head, ECOWAS Commission’s Regional Security Division, Dr. Abdourahmane Dieng, highlighted the purpose and unique value of ECOWAS SSGR, the bottom-up process of development and adoption of the ECOWAS Policy Framework, its multi-layered and contextualized engagement, the draft Action Plan as well as next steps enumerating proposed activities to launch the SSGR support to Member States.
He underlined that the unique value added by the ECOWAS Policy Framework for SSGR lies in its comprehensive approach to “connected security”, which means that improving efficiency and effectiveness of security service provision through SSRG will have a knock-on impact by improving efforts in counterterrorism, countering violent extremism, maritime security, combating transnational organised crime, small arms and light weapons control, peace support operations, etc.
The Chair of the Meeting and Assistant Director in the Nigerian Ministry of Defence, Mr. Ashigye Willie John, harped on the need for synergy, intelligence sharing and continuous cooperation in ensuring that the delegates come up with a workable framework to move the SSGR agenda forward.
Significantly, the ECOWAS Policy Framework for SSGR and Action Plan is not meant to replace national policies and strategies on security as ECOWAS Member States have the primary responsibility for peace and security within their territories. This point was aptly made through the presentation of the ECOWAS Programme Officer, Security Sector Reform, Mr. Okey Uzoechina, who informed that the task of the regional community is to create the enabling environment for Member States to improve transparency, accountability, responsibility, responsiveness, efficiency and effectiveness of their security sector.
The SSGR Policy Framework shares the principles of the ECOWAS Vision 2020, which envisages among others, a space where people can move freely, ply their business and live in dignity and peace under the rule of law and good governance.
The ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF) which was adopted in 2008, mandated the ECOWAS Commission to develop a Security Governance Framework and an Action Plan that take into account peculiarities of the region in improving security delivery.
This second meeting which comes after the first (Banjul, Gambia 2014) follows the adoption of the ECOWAS Policy Framework for SSGR by the Authority of Heads of State and Government in June 2016 in Dakar, Senegal and is meant to enable dissemination and implementation of the Policy Framework as mandated by the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government.