Terrorism and violent extremism are likely to remain Africa’s biggest security challenges in 2022 and beyond, according to the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). East, West, and Southern Africa all have local groups with connections to international terrorism. They cause local tensions and support organized criminal networks, undermining already precarious political environments. However, after years of government-led security force incursions, which were frequently supported by the governments of the United States and Europe, the rebels remain in place. Africa’s numerous national and regional initiatives won’t succeed in bringing about a credible and lasting peace unless local approaches that involve counterterrorism measures beyond kinetic counterterrorism are also embraced.
The head of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Judd Devermont, said “the security environment in the area has seen a remarkable upheaval over the previous two decades. The risks to American and African interests are now more varied, broad, and complicated. We’ll also need to rethink our approach to alliances and diplomacy, as well as our diplomatic, development, and defense toolkits, to meet these challenges.”
Threats to African interests in terms of security are numerous and diverse. Many nations in the area are still plagued by extremist organizations. More than 2 million people were displaced by Ethiopia’s 10-month civil war, which also resulted in numerous breaches of human rights and put the northern Tigray area at risk of starvation. The world’s epicenter of piracy is the Gulf of Guinea. West, Central, and East Africa continue to be concerned about drug trafficking. Additionally, cybercriminals are active in the area.
The difficulties with security affect every region. Extremist threats are most severe in the Sahel, Lake Chad Basin, Somalia, eastern DRC, and Mozambique. The Malian government urged the Russian mercenaries operating in the Central African Republic to provide services in the Sahel. According to CSIS research, China maintains a base in Djibouti and has built, operated, or supported at least 46 commercial ports around the area. No nation is immune to the effects of climate change or the destruction wreaked by the COVID-19 epidemic, of course.
There are issues, but they cannot be resolved just by harsh words or fines. Sending peacekeepers or offering aid with counterterrorism is insufficient. The root causes of many of these problems; marginalization, bad governance, and a lack of opportunities are structural. Even if African governments view these nations as important commercial and security partners, International Core can always focus on their status as adversaries. To counter the negative actions of foreign players like China and Russia, a far more complex strategy will be needed.
Africa’s post-colonial nations were built only to serve colonial economic and political goals. While individual security received considerable consideration after independence, the interests of the ruling class nevertheless took precedence. Many African citizens harbor mistrust and anxiety toward security institutions. The rationale for Security Sector Reforms (SSR) is strong given how prevalent violent conflict is in many African nations. The United States, Germany, the Nordic nations, Canada, and France are now the next most active donors to Africa, after the United Kingdom. While all donors have developed coordination channels, there are significant differences in their dedication to collaboration and consistent strategies (Bendix D., Stanley R., 2008).
For many years, the African continent has been a key player in the deployment of peacekeepers, and not just because of its significant contributions of civilian, military, and police personnel to the UN. Through the deployment of a variety of continental and regionally led peace operations, particularly through the African Union (AU), regional economic communities (RECs), and mechanisms (RM), as well as more recently through regional ad hoc security coalitions, Africa has demonstrated a particular capacity for innovation and responsiveness (Carvalho, 2020).
The discussion on reforming the security sector is still in its infancy. Before a flexible strategy can be devised for the majority of scenarios, there is still a lot of political, practical, intellectual, and strategic work to be done on security sector reform. Donor nations, international financial institutions, and development organizations are now considering security sector reform. To represent African realities and requirements, current Western notions of security sector reform should be placed inside an African perspective. The importance of democratic civil- military relations that emphasize the universal moral values of transparency, accountability, and the primacy of elected government is a foundation for all reforms, though it is impossible to state a single overarching theoretical framework that explains all security sector reform (Williams, R. 2000).
Societies are exposed to attacks in the short and long term if the security sector is not managed and governed well. Attempts to address the underlying causes of violence might be hampered by limited or inadequate security sector reform. The necessity for African governments to assume responsibility for these programs is addressed in the AU roadmap’s first action item. Reform of the security sector can only be successful if it is led and carried out by the main beneficiaries. The AU aims to maintain political support so that member states are prepared and advised on how to enhance and improve their security sectors (Carvalho, 2019).
The AU assists in creating a vision so that all parties involved are aware of their roles and the procedures required to bring about peace and stability. National governments may participate in specialized or general talks on security sector reform in the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC). This promotes communication between senior government officials and the PSC.
The necessity for greater coordination between other peace initiatives and security sector reform is addressed in the roadmap’s second practical phase. This requires the AU to coordinate its responses to security sector reform with its initiatives in governance, transitional justice, human rights, and rule of law. Reforming the security sector is frequently a congested field with several participants and numerous competing strategies. National governments, outside funders, and international organizations are all attempting to demonstrate their significance and strategic influence. As a result, finance, strategic planning, capacity building, and technical assistance frequently overlap (Carvalho, 2019).
The freshly created AU Security Sector Reform Steering Committee may be a significant tool for the AU to improve actor coordination. This committee ought to be able to provide suggestions, identify difficulties, and collaborate with the PSC on security in Africa. At a strategic level, the committee may be more useful by, for example, enhancing coordination and information sharing and fostering south-south collaboration. The master plan also addresses the requirement for peace accords to include precise deadlines for DDR and security sector reform, as well as the establishment of suitable follow-up procedures (Carvalho, 2019).
It may take decades for security sector reform to become enduring. Mozambique is a prime illustration. Even though the peace agreements were signed 25 years ago, problems in the security sector continue to be at the heart of the national dilemma. The AU and African nations continues to assist those affected by war and violence (Carvalho, 2019).
Monitoring results is essential for improving the effectiveness of security sector reform.
Therefore, it is crucial that the AU Commission promptly complete the Draft Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanism of the Roadmap, as requested by the PSC in February. Reforming the security sector requires monitoring and assessment, which shouldn’t be neglected. It must be context-specific and supported by sufficient financial resources and technological know-how to last during protracted security sector reform initiatives (Carvalho, 2019).
Support and funding for better security sector monitoring are still insufficient. Due to historically dominating CEOs, parliamentary capacity development is a primary area of SSR effort in many African countries. Focusing on parliamentary support, such as staff training, committee operations, and individual representatives may assist guarantee that lawmakers have access to the information and resources they need to exercise their lawful responsibility to monitor security matters. Gains may be sustained past the short-term time horizon of political cycles by targeting the institution for support in addition to specific individuals. For long-term improvements in security supervision across all levels of government, journalists, wider government personnel, and political parties must get training on parliament’s duties in security concerns (Bryden & Chappuis, 2016).
Under an international standard known as gender equality, all people, regardless of their biological sex or gender identity, have the same access to opportunities and resources. This implies that in the security industry, minorities of both genders and women should be given equal opportunities to participate in the delivery, administration, and supervision of security services. Additionally, it means that the security requirements of men, women, children, and gender minorities should all be taken into consideration and properly met. Each of the guiding principles of the security sector’s good governance includes gender equality, which is a must for any security sector reform strategy’s success and sustainability (Bryden & Chappuis, 2016).
Reforming the security industry is more than just a technological exercise. It is by its very nature a political process. Countries must present a clear vision for how they will handle political differences and long-term goals related to the rule of law. The AU’s assistance in states achieving this is crucial. To Silence the Guns in Africa, it must continue to direct security sector reform.
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