Home > Publications and Reports > GCA Publications > Security and NEPAD  

Accra, Ghana, January 22-23, 2003



I. NEPAD: Main Features*
Some Initial Reactions and Comments on NEPAD
Response of Africas Development Partners
II. Security and NEPAD
The Role of African Governments
Responsibilities of civil society
II. Security and NEPAD
The collaboration of international partners

Conceived and promoted by a number of African leaders, and with the blessing and endorsement of the full membership of the OAU, the New Partnership for Africas Development (NEPAD) was launched in 2001. In the brief period since its inception, considerable work has been undertaken in fleshing out key elements of an Initial Action Plan and also in promoting the initiative as a whole. Its African origin as well as its balanced approach has enabled NEPAD to gain broad recognition and support, both regionally and internationally. However, there is a clear need to more widely disseminate and popularize NEPAD so as to ensure that it fully embraces and engages all key stakeholders. With a view of contributing to such an effort, this paper briefly touches on the NEPAD initiative, and then discusses its relation to security and stability in Africa.

I. NEPAD: Main Features*

While acknowledging the formidable challenges facing Africa, NEPAD underlines the considerable development potential of the continent. Africas vast natural assets mineral and energy resources, arable land, forests and fish, flora and fauna as well as its preponderantly young and trainable population can form the bases for diversified and dynamic economies. NEPAD unequivocally places the principal responsibility for efficiently and judiciously utilizing these resources and putting Africa on the path of accelerated growth on Africans themselves. It highlights the key measures political, institutional, policy and investment African countries need to take in order to achieve the growth rates required to halve poverty and meet the other Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. The NEPAD framework encompasses the following main elements:

Creating the conditions for development by (i) ensuring peace and security, through conflict management and prevention, and by combating the trade in arms; (ii) promoting democracy and sound political governance, through inclusiveness and political participation, respect for human rights, rule of law, accountability and integrity; (iii) instituting sound economic and corporate governance, by enforcing prudent management of public finances and ethical and socially responsible conduct of business affairs.
Focusing on sectoral priorities, including: (i) investment in infrastructure at the country and particularly also at sub-regional levels and with due attention to the key sub-sectors of information and communications (ICT), transport, energy, and water and sanitation; (ii) human resource development, especially education and health which form the core components of the MDGs; (iii) agriculture, with emphasis on productivity and food security; and (iv) environment, ranging from the overall preservation of natural resources to combating desertification.
Mobilizing the resources needed to implement its sectoral priorities, through (i) capital flows, in the form of more efficient tapping of domestic resources, comprehensive debt relief, increased and better managed ODA, and enhanced private capital flows mainly in the form of FDI; and (ii) improved market access through increased intra-African trade and unimpeded entry to international markets. NEPAD recognizes the critical role of the private sector in all phases of production and export operations as well as in other foreign-exchange earning activities, and the need for it to be supported and encouraged.
An Initial Action Plan elaborating measures to be taken in each of the priority areas, and identifying specific projects in several of the sectors, was presented to and was endorsed by the African Union Summit in July 2002. The Summit also called for the early implementation of proposed programs in the priority areas.

The concept of mutual accountability for fulfillment of commitments undertaken, particularly with regard to implementation of the Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance, affirms NEPADs departure from previous continental plans. An African Peer Review Mechanism, which will assess the performance of countries voluntarily participating in the review system, is to be established. As and when it becomes fully operational, the review mechanism would not only serve to monitor and evaluate performance, but also enable the dissemination of best practices. A panel of Eminent Africans is to form the membership of the body that directs the peer review. The panel will be assisted by a secretariat which, among other things, will be responsible for the technical and analytical work related to collecting and evaluating the information and data needed for the review.

NEPADs highest authority is the African Union Assembly of Heads of State. Its principal organs are the Implementation Committee, chaired by the President of Nigeria and now composed of 20 Heads of State from the five regions of Africa; the Steering Committee, made up of representatives of the five initiating countries (Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa); and a secretariat based in South Africa.

Some Initial Reactions and Comments on NEPAD

As would be expected, there have been reactions to NEPAD both supportive and critical. The favorable views and reviews NEPAD has received are due to its African-ownership, its comprehensiveness, and its call for a broader partnership than the traditional demand for increased ODA. NEPAD is also a departure from previous plans in its emphasis on Africas responsibility for its own development, its focus on accountability, and its recognition of the important role of the private sector. Furthermore, the African Peer Review Mechanism is one of the more innovative elements of the initiative, and its implementation will strengthen the credibility of NEPAD. At the same time though, there are those who question whether NEPAD is not just one more in a series of ambitious continental recovery plans, which never came to fruition. In response, supporters point out that the initiative is realistic and technically adequate in itself, while externally unlike previous plans NEPAD has gained broad acceptance.

A principal concern relates to the sheer diversity of Africa, which countries will initially qualify, and how many others are ready and prepared to enter into the commitments and obligations envisaged under NEPAD. Broadly, countries may be grouped into three categories. In group one are countries that are undertaking relatively strong reforms, endeavoring to maintain good governance and adhering to generally sound policies. The second group includes a large number of countries that are more or less stable and free of conflict but have not demonstrated consistency and seriousness with respect to reforms and sound economic management. The third group comprises countries still in, or just emerging from, conflict, as well as others characterized by poor governance and political and economic instability.

This diversity has raised concerns that only group one countries would meet the NEPAD criteria and thus qualify for external support. But such narrow selectivity would amount to avoiding the challenge of pursuing the Millennium Development Goals in as many of Africas low income countries as possible. Perhaps a more inclusive approach would be to establish flexible and differing goals and targets to take account of the differences in the starting points of the countries. Some provisions in the NEPAD Peer Review Mechanism and the G-8 Africa Action Plan appear to recognize the need for such a flexible approach. For NEPAD to be a truly continental initiative, every African country should in principle have the opportunity of benefiting from it, provided it makes an effort.

Other comments relate to NEPADs origins. Some argue that to date it has been mostly discussed among Heads of State and Government and their advisors and Ministers, without the involvement of the general public as a whole, and of private sector and civil society groups in particular. Others state that NEPAD is promoted by only a few countries and leaders, and the majority of countries have yet to be fully engaged in the process. And yet, the fact that NEPAD is embraced and promoted by leaders should be a significant and positive development. If in the past the lack of commitment and support from political leaders was frequently cited as impediment to reform, their deep engagement in the new initiative must surely be welcome. Similarly, the leadership and initial promotion provided by the sponsoring countries should be seen positively. The challenge is to move expeditiously and engage citizens in the formulation and implementation of NEPAD-inspired national development strategies, as well as the initiation of reform measures, in as many countries as possible.

Ultimately, it is what happens or fails to happen at the country level that will determine the worth and success of NEPAD. That in turn depends on ensuring a secure and stable environment for economic agents to confidently invest, produce and export. Peace, participatory political systems, sound and credible institutions, and meritocratic and accountable public services are fundamental to such an environment. In addition, well-functioning networks of essential infrastructure, a well-developed financial system, and an educated and skilled workforce are essential for sustaining efficiency and competitiveness. While country-level actions are of primary importance, cooperation and coordination among countries through the strengthening of regional economic integration will also facilitate the fulfillment of NEPADs objectives. Also, peer review may best be managed within a subregional framework, while collective security arrangements and conflict management mechanisms at the subregional level have and can continue to promote peace and stability within and between countries.

Response of Africas Development Partners

African leaders have called for a new form of partnership, based on mutually agreed responsibilities and accountability. Specifically, Africas external partners have to fully open their markets to African exports, encourage and facilitate investment in Africa by their private sectors, take further measures on debt relief, and provide significantly higher levels of aid in the medium term. Prominent voices in the international community have made strong appeals in support of the African case. Related international conferences, including the Doha Development Round on Multilateral Trade, the UN Financing for Development (Monterrey) Conference and the World Summit on Social Development (Johannesburg) have all reflected a more or less sympathetic stance. The Monterrey Conference has, in particular, achieved a consensus on significant increases in aid. The group of eight (G-8) industrialized countries on their part have endorsed NEPAD and also adopted an Africa Action Plan at their Kananaskis (Canada) Summit in June 2002. In their Action Plan, G-8 countries indicate that they will enter into enhanced partnerships with countries that meet the performance standards of NEPAD, and also assist other countries that are committed to working toward meeting the NEPAD standards. The G-8 leaders also promise to partner with African countries on:

Peace and security, by supporting strengthened conflict prevention mechanisms, regulating arms trafficking, and helping to address the root causes of conflict.
Political, economic and corporate governance, by assisting capacity building in the various dimensions of governance, in strengthening key institutions including parliaments and civil society organizations, and in promoting human rights and the equal participation of women.
Trade, investment and sustainable development, by encouraging investment, building capacity and transferring know-how, facilitating access to capital markets, providing improved market access, emphasizing the development features of ongoing multilateral trade negotiations, increasing the amount and improving the effectiveness of ODA, and taking additional debt relief measures particularly for HIPCs.
Education and health, by helping to achieve the goal of universal primary education; assisting in combating HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, and supporting wider access to and usage of information and communication technology.
Agriculture and water resources, by supporting efforts aimed at improving productivity and competitiveness in agriculture, and assisting with the planning and implementation of improved water development and management.

A number of groups, including private aid agencies, have complained that the G-8 Action Plan fails to provide the significant increases in assistance that many anticipated. The G-8s promise to allocate to Africa up to 50% of the $12 billion increase in ODA contained in the Monterrey Declaration was tempered by its failure to come up with new concessions on market access. Key African leaders have welcomed the Action Plan, while underscoring that they expect more specific measures from the G-8 countries (and other external partners) to follow the endorsement of the NEPAD Initial Action Plan by the African Union Summit. In this regard, African leaders have also called for a monitoring and evaluation system to assess how well external partners perform in meeting their commitments under the new partnership arrangement with Africa.

The successful implementation of NEPAD will require both unequivocal and sustained commitment from Africans and adequate and timely support from their development partners. The goal is to achieve and maintain the high growth rates (at least 7% per annum) needed for demonstrable poverty reduction.

II. Security and NEPAD

NEPAD represents a new beginning in many ways, not least in the emphasis it places on security and stability as prerequisites for development. The NEPAD Initial Action Plan presented to and endorsed by the inaugural summit of the African Union in Durban, July 2002, clearly underlined this. The Action Plan indicated that NEPAD is based on a three-pronged strategy, the first element of which is establishing conditions for sustainable development, including peace and security and improved governance. To reinforce this, it proposed a Peace and Security Initiative, designed to support the efforts and conflict management mechanisms of the African Union and regional organizations.

The Peace and Security Initiative covers actions and measures to improve early warning capacity and ensure that this leads to timely and effective action; facilitate sustainable reconstruction and development, including disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation; address the illicit proliferation, circulation and trafficking of small arms; promote democracy, good governance and respect for human rights through security sector policy and institutional reforms; govern and set standards for the management and exploitation of non-renewable resources in regions affected by conflict; and engage in conflict management. It is closely linked with the Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance, as well as the African Peer Review Mechanism, both of which were adopted by the AU Summit.

The Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance draws attention to the need for peace, stability and security, and the linkages between security, democracy and good governance. Recognizing the detrimental effects of conflict on development, it calls for African leaders to both seek solutions to current conflicts, and to build capacity for conflict prevention, management and resolution. The Declaration spells out a range of actions and commitments to promote democracy, good governance and the promotion and protection of human rights. These actions and commitments underscore the central importance of participatory political processes and elections, rule of law, and fundamental freedoms. They also aim to ensure the full participation of women.

If African leaders and countries fulfill their obligations under the Peace and Security Initiative and honor the commitments made under the Declaration, the political and security landscape of the continent will be fundamentally altered. The challenge is to ensure that promises are kept and real progress is made. Too often in the past, as the NEPAD Initial Action Plan itself recognizes, the political will to meet commitments has been lacking. The African Peer Review Mechanism is intended to encourage this political will and promote accountability, creating an incentive for governments to undertake agreed-upon actions. Its adoption by the AU Summit was noteworthy, but its impact will depend on how effectively it is implemented.

In passing its Declaration on the Implementation of NEPAD [ASS/AU/Decl.1(I)] the inaugural summit of the AU formally embraced NEPAD and encouraged its implementation by member states. In addition, the AU Summit underscored particular elements of the NEPAD Initial Action Plan by adopting a Protocol establishing a Peace and Security Council [ASS/AU/Dec.4(I)] and by passing a Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa [AHG/Decl.1(XXXVIII)]. The Peace and Security Council is envisaged as the collective security mechanism for the continent, and is intended to ensure timely and effective response to conflict and crises. It has a broad range of aims and functions and, when operational, will give the AU unprecedented authority to act in conflict situations**.

Its adoption by the AU Summit endowed NEPAD with broad political approval, while its endorsement by the G-8 enhanced its international credibility. These are auspicious beginnings, but NEPADs success will depend in part on the extent to which national-level actions lead to discernable improvements in the lives of people. Governmental action alone will be insufficient. To bring about lasting progress, NEPAD will require partnerships between African governments, the private sector and civil society, as well as the support of the international community.

The Role of African Governments

NEPADs successful implementation depends on the political commitment of the leadership, as well as the active involvement of the people, of individual countries. Not all African countries are at the same stage, or will move at the same pace in terms of implementation, but all governments need to provide sufficient information about NEPAD and engage their domestic constituents in a debate about how it should be adopted and implemented. If NEPAD is to deliver tangible improvements in the lives of people, the priorities selected by governments which are increasingly representative need to conform to the needs and desires of the general population.

NEPADs adoption at the country level is in real terms a development compact between African governments and their populations. It allows a national agenda to be elaborated and partnerships to be built in support of such an agenda. To date, this is perceived to have been lacking in a number of African countries, and so NEPAD brings with it a promise of a new relationship, based on responsibility and commitment. It is incumbent on governments to adopt the policy measures required under NEPAD and take steps to develop the institutional capacity to implement them. While countries will select the aspects of NEPAD that they will especially focus on, the governance and democracy dimensions are essential. In particular, governments have an obligation to maintain peace and improve the security of their citizens.

Although NEPAD is a process intended to promote development and the more complete integration of African countries into the global economy, it is fundamentally concerned with politics. Dedicated leadership, as well as government commitment, will be required to bring about the improvements in governance that it promotes. Political leaders have endorsed the concept of peer review, and governments should be prepared for this to be undertaken vigorously. They should also be willing to involve relevant stakeholders in the process, and to take recommendations seriously. Leaders must also be prepared to accept the responsibility that peer review entails, and encourage their colleagues to ensure security and embrace participation and good governance. If need be, they should also be ready to apply sanctions against political leaders and governments who abuse power. Since independence, concerns about sovereignty and commitment to continental solidarity have meant that the excesses of leaders and governments were not subject to condemnation by their colleagues. If implemented seriously, the African Peer Review Mechanism envisaged under NEPAD could change this, with far-reaching consequences.

In a new era of democratic governance, and as they seek to promote private sector investment, governments need to accord security much greater attention than in the past. While improvements in governance will lead to increased security, governments should also specifically address the issues and problems that directly affect the security of communities and population groups, be they political, economic or social. This implies much more governmental interaction and greater responsiveness to the demands of population groups. It also means redressing legislative or regulatory inequalities that disadvantage specific groups, generally women and minorities. In order to build trust, governments need to honor the commitments they make with regard to security.

Security forces themselves need to adapt to better meet the security challenges faced by African countries and citizens, and to assume new roles such as involvement in peacekeeping. Placing citizens at the center of security implies a greater emphasis on protection of human rights. Increasingly, this is becoming a central component of military training, while some military establishments have also adopted codes of conduct governing their interaction with civilians as well as operational behavior. Given the threats to security posed by crime, lawlessness and limited border control, there is need for strengthened police and law enforcement capacity in most countries. Customs agencies too have an important role in protecting security, by curtailing the illegal trade in arms and drugs that has increased violence in many instances.

While most governmental effort will necessarily be devoted to reducing insecurity within nation states, regional involvement and cooperation is also important, given the interrelation between regional events and security. The success of regional and collective security arrangements, whether under the auspices of the African Union or a regional entity like SADC or ECOWAS will depend on the commitment of member states, and how well they are implemented. In some instances in the past, governments have agreed in principle to security arrangements, but have then failed to honor them. Given the interdependence of countries, collective security measures need to be taken seriously by all involved, and afforded the necessary human and financial resources. Such arrangements are also dependent on the quality of the individual security forces that comprise them, and regional measures cannot be expected to work in the absence of professional and competent national forces.

In addition to involvement in regional military agreements, greater regional interaction and cooperation could help to limit the cross-border trade in arms and commodities that have fueled conflict. Obviously, regional arrangements, including those for security, are weakened when member states are involved in conflict. Though difficult, regional organizations have an important function in bringing pressure to bear to end conflict and maintain peace in their regions. While some regional organizations have made progress in this regard, the capacity to effectively engage in conflict management still needs to be enhanced. At the same time, new security responsibilities should not divert them from their original mandates of enhanced economic integration.

The governmental responsibility for NEPADs implementation and improved security does not lie solely with the executive. The commitment and active involvement of the judicial and legislative branches are also needed. Adherence to constitutions and laws by citizens, government officials and security forces is the basis of security. But laws, however comprehensive or far-reaching, need to be impartially and fairly implemented if they are to have effect. To date, this has been difficult to achieve in many countries, allowing arbitrary behavior and impunity to continue, while ordinary citizens are denied access to justice. A professional, well-trained and independent judiciary is essential to both NEPADs progress and to improved security.

The legislature also has a crucial role to play, in passing appropriate legislation, representing the interests of constituents, and providing a check on executive authority. In some instances, NEPAD will require supporting legislation, and the quality and comprehensiveness of laws will affect the degree to which its objectives are met. In other instances, what is required is more thorough legislative oversight to ensure that commitments are honored. Similarly, parliaments can contribute to improved security by ensuring that legislation protects the rights of citizens, upholds constitutional provisions, and promotes equitable treatment and access to resources. Parliaments fundamentally affect the quality of democracy enjoyed in individual countries and the extent of political and economic freedom citizens are afforded. Specifically with regard to security, in most African countries parliamentarians need to increase their understanding of defense and security issues, and become more actively engaged in debates on security policy and security sector reform than has been the case to date.

African governments have joined the international coalition against terrorism, which places new demands on already limited human and financial resources. Like governments throughout the rest of the world, they are faced with the challenge of preventing terrorist networks from establishing bases or recruiting converts in their countries, or of channeling funds through them. African countries are particularly vulnerable because of the security and institutional weaknesses that already exist, as well as resource constraints. At the same time, as NEPAD recognizes, governments should be encouraged to respect the human rights of their citizens and uphold democratic values. Fundamental freedoms and civil liberties cannot be curtailed, or legitimate political opposition suppressed, in newly-established democracies in the name of fighting terrorism.

Responsibilities of civil society

Civil society organizations have a responsibility to engage with governments on NEPAD and to develop ways of ensuring its effective implementation. Although this involves traditional non-governmental organizations, the participation of a broader range of actors is also important. Working in partnership with governments, they can hold governments responsible for living up to their commitments under NEPAD. This does not imply an adversarial relationship, but one based on mutual trust and understanding. Governments cannot always deliver the results that they promise because of adverse circumstances, but they need to implement sound policies. Civil society needs to understand the constraints that exist, and what is needed to overcome them. Civil society organizations should understand that most governments are increasingly representative, and help citizens to understand government policies and their potential impact. This would lead to a more informed electorate.

Governments and civil society organizations alike need to ensure that people are involved in NEPAD and that they contribute to its success. Civil society organizations, often working at the grassroots, can help communities act on their own development priorities. Particularly with regard to security, they can help to identify the major challenges to security faced by different groups within countries, and how these might be overcome. Both the determinants of insecurity and the responses to them may well vary among communities and societal groupings, and their leaders and organizations can act as intermediaries, ensuring that the security concerns of citizens are voiced. They also have an important role in promoting human rights, highlighting abuses, and acting as advocates for the poor to ensure that they too benefit from economic and political reforms.

The behavior of individuals, while affected by security, also affects it. Organizations of civil society have a responsibility to promote tolerance and bridge societal differences. While some organizations obviously cater to special interests or particular social groups, they should be cognizant of their broader social role and act in a responsible manner. Civil society organizations, and civil society itself, need to understand that democracy brings rights, but also responsibilities. Organizations can help to resolve differences at the local level and promote the understanding that leads to adoption of compromise solutions. Strengthening transparency and democracy is not the task of governments alone civil society groups also have a part to play.

NEPAD affirms that economic growth and development require a robust and active private sector, and the extent to which NEPAD achieves its goals will be dependent to a large degree on the levels of private sector activity and investment that are generated. The private sector is obviously affected by security. Indeed, broad insecurity has been one of the main constraints on the growth of the private sector throughout the continent. In situations of conflict, uncertainty and political instability, the long-term productive investment that is conducive to development tends to be replaced by shortterm, quick profit activity. The reluctance of the private sector is understandable a minimum level of security is needed to protect investments. But the private sector can make an enormously important contribution to post conflict reconstruction and to increased security. Employment and economic growth generated by the private sector will help to reduce the economic basis of insecurity, and also allow countries to improve services that enhance security.

The conduct of the private sector can contribute to the general security environment. While installations and equipment need to be protected, private companies should ensure that, when they employ private security companies, they expect them to operate within the rule of law and interact with governmental forces, as well as respect the human rights of communities. The private security companies themselves, obviously, should also do this. Similarly, although the primary motivation of private companies is to make profits, they can help to increase security by embracing good corporate governance and behaving in a socially responsible manner. In addition to adopting sound labor and employment practices, engagement with issues such as community development and HIV/AIDS can have an impact on the security of their employees and communities in which they work.

The media has an exceptionally important role to play in promoting and supporting the implementation of NEPAD. While governments should inform their citizens, so too the media should find out about NEPAD and seek to popularize it. NEPAD represents an important milestone in Africas development, and in its relations with the international community. But it is not a quick fix, and achieving results will require effort and the steadfast application of sound policies over time. The media is central to ensuring that people in African countries understand what NEPAD is and what it can bring about, as well as the commitments that have been made under it. In addition to general coverage, editorials and specialist articles could provide more detailed information on a continued basis, while radio talk shows offer an opportunity for a range of views to be heard.

In terms of security also, the press has influence. Experience, especially in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, has shown the negative role the media can play in promoting racial hatred and exacerbating conflict. It can also do the opposite. The media can be extremely efficacious in building understanding of cultural differences and the commonalities of experience that help to promote tolerance. Given its reach, the media, and especially radio, can also help to explain governance issues and create understanding of the process of democracy, as well as promote popular participation. It also has an indispensable role in holding governments accountable for their actions and in building support for anti-corruption campaigns. Internationally, the media can help to present a more balanced view of Africa. Both the medias role and influence have been radically altered by the emergence of independent operators in most African countries. It is now incumbent on media professionals to use that influence positively to contribute to stability and security.

The collaboration of international partners

It is understood that the primary responsibility for enhancing security lies with Africans themselves, but their international partners can assist the process. NEPAD provides the basis for a new, more equitable partnership with African countries. At their June 2002 Summit, G-8 leaders endorsed NEPAD and announced an action plan of broad support for its objectives. Given that security is intricately linked with development and participatory governance, improvements in these areas can be expected to lead to a greater sense of generalized security. Africas partners can additionally provide specific assistance for issues that have a direct impact on security, as well as for security sector reform.

The actions outlined in the G-8 action plan relating to conflict management can be expected to directly improve security. Bringing Africas current conflicts to an end would help to overcome the image of a continent beset by insecurity and instability, as well as lay the basis for development in the countries themselves. African efforts to promote peace require the moral support and engagement of the international community, as well as financial and technical resources. Countries coming out of conflict have enormous reconstruction needs that require long-term support. Disarmament, demobilization, resettlement and reintegration of former combatants are specific elements of peacebuilding that need adequate and sustained assistance. Equally important to build trust are the creation of a truly national military and the strengthening of democratic institutions, while expanded economic and employment opportunities are essential to recovery.

Development partners can also provide assistance to build African capacity for peacekeeping, and support continental and regional conflict management efforts, including those of the African Union Peace and Security Council and the Conference on Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa, initiated by President Obasanjo. Greater collaboration and coordination would help to maximize the benefit of peacekeeping training programs, by creating synergies and building on success. But in addition to providing assistance, Africas partners can also help to reduce the incidence of conflict on the continent by taking action to control the illegal arms trade and make the financing of conflict more difficult. If properly implemented, measures to more closely monitor and track commodities such as gems and timber that have often been used to fund wars could have a significant impact. Similarly, strengthened provisions to combat money laundering, and more stringent international financial regulations, could help to cut off financing for conflict and make illegal arms and commodity deals less lucrative. To be effective, these measures need the concerted effort of the international community.

Most of Africas bilateral and multilateral development partners now provide a variety of assistance to improve governance and promote democratization. Over the long-term, this will help to reduce insecurity. Judicial reform and programs to enhance access to justice can, along with support for anti-corruption initiatives, help to promote rule of law itself fundamental to security. Assistance to building capacity and strengthening state institutions can also have a positive impact on security, while civic education and support for elections can encourage political participation and promote political accountability. Training and technical assistance to help parliaments perform their oversight functions more effectively can both better ensure that the security needs of citizens are met, and guard against government abuse. Assisting civil society organizations to develop capacity in security and defense analysis can help to ensure that policy makers are informed of security priorities of populations, and that defense policies are informed by such understanding, while supporting those working on issues that directly affect the security of communities can lead to significant improvements.

Africas partners can also assist the process of security sector transformation and building effective, efficient security forces in African countries. Despite its importance, development assistance agencies have traditionally not focused on the security sector. This has changed somewhat as assistance programs have embraced good governance and democratization. However, even with this change, the focus has often been on reducing levels of military expenditure in order to reallocate scarce funds to social sectors. While admirable in principle, such an approach has often failed to take the security challenges faced by countries into account or accept that effective security is costly. Nor has it fully recognized that large numbers of unemployed demobilized soldiers or under-funded, demoralized and unprofessional security forces can in and of themselves present challenges to security. A more productive approach could take a broader view of defense and security issues, informed by an understanding of the security situation pertaining in individual countries, and seek to promote effective oversight of security forces and improved defense budgeting and accountability.

Although Africas major bilateral partners have provided military-to-military training and technical assistance for some time, this has not usually extended to helping African security establishments define their own security needs and develop coherent strategies to meet them. Nor has it generally covered the design of security policies and the requisite training to develop force structures capable of implementing them, or issues such as defense budgeting and military procurement. However, such assistance needs to be based on the self-defined needs of African military establishments, and grounded in the security realities of individual countries. While security sector transformation can lead to military rightsizing and force restructuring that can be expected to result in cost savings, in the short-term creating effective, modern military establishments will require adequate budgetary resources.

Africas partners have not paid the same attention to other security forces as to the military, even though civil security is of fundamental importance to most citizens of African countries. Even given their emphasis on rule of law, very few development assistance agencies have helped governments improve policing or engaged in police training. Support for civil security measures can be expected to have a high impact in terms of improving the day-to-day security of citizens, especially in urban areas. Decreased levels of crime could also help to attract business interests and investment that in turn could lead to increased employment opportunities. Additionally, assistance to police and customs authorities could help African governments to counter organized and transnational crime, including the illicit drug and arms trade, for which they are currently ill-equipped.

An improved security environment in African countries is obviously conducive to development, and the ultimate beneficiaries will be the African people themselves. But it also serves the interests of Africas partners. Insecurity borne of conflict, political instability or lack of economic opportunity is one of the principal reasons people leave African countries. Although many simply move to a neighboring country, others migrate to industrialized countries. While highly educated and skilled migrants are generally absorbed into the workforce of their adopted countries without problem, large influxes of less well-educated or illegal immigrants can cause tensions within their host societies. Moreover, most of the drugs traded by organized crime syndicates that are increasingly using African countries as conduits find markets in richer countries The events of September 11, 2001, have also underscored that security cannot be assumed by any single country, and that all countries need to collaborate to counter international terrorism.

III. Promoting Security

NEPADs emphasis on security and stability as prerequisites for development provides an opportunity for consideration of what constitutes security for individual countries and for the continent as a whole, as well as how challenges to security can be addressed. Whereas security was previously considered in predominantly military terms as maintenance of territorial integrity or national sovereignty, it is now seen as much broader, and as inextricably linked to development. Indeed, it is increasingly apparent that while insecurity threatens development, so too lack of development undermines security. In its focus on issues of governance and democracy, and its stress on public accountability, NEPAD implicitly recognizes the broader dimension of human security and the range of political, social and economic issues that affect it.

In African countries, as elsewhere, the determinants of security are many and varied. State and individual security are intricately linked, and state security will remain fragile unless individual security needs can be met, at least to a reasonable degree. This is the challenge facing African countries, relatively few of which have been able to adequately provide safety and security for their citizens, including the most vulnerable. Provision of security is a key element of the social contract between states and citizens. While the specific realities of each country determine security needs, individual safety, public order, and freedom from fear and violence come high on the list for most people.

Conflict and Security

NEPAD is explicitly concerned with conflict and its prevention, recognizing that in the recent past armed conflict has been a fundamental cause of insecurity, and a significant constraint to development in Africa. Experience has clearly shown that the security of individual countries and the security of the continent are interlinked. Though those countries and populations directly affected by conflict have obviously suffered most, the security of others has also been threatened. Conflict has often spilled over into neighboring countries, or they have had to cope with an influx of refugees, small arms trafficking, and general lawlessness and cross-border crime. NEPADs Peace and Security Initiative provides the basis for effective conflict management, and can also help to build regional mechanisms to encourage interdependence and cooperation and promote security. But a primary concern is that all countries embrace the need for peace.

Conflict in Africa is essentially a political issue, primarily concerned with how power is obtained and exercised. The challenge facing countries is not to avoid political divergences, but to prevent violence. Over time, the institutionalization of democracy and accountable governance will allow differences to be settled through legitimate political processes. The NEPAD Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance is a powerful means of promoting democratic participation. But at the same time, the accountability mechanisms proposed under NEPAD need to be vigorously enforced. If security is to be safeguarded, impunity must be checked. Not only parties to conflict, but also leaders who undermine security through abuse of power, need to be held accountable for their actions.

Countries coming out of conflict are, of course, faced with specific challenges. While security is essential for durable peace, and has to be a priority of post-conflict reconstruction, it is extraordinarily hard to achieve. Although elections can provide post-conflict governments with necessary legitimacy, too-hasty or poorly prepared elections can undermine fragile security, and experience has proven that losers do not always recognize the results. In extreme cases of state collapse, it is by no means certain that conflicting groups will even accept the restoration of governmental authority and the loss of power that comes with it. Even when political processes are instituted, a basic issue that post-conflict countries have to confront is how to reconstruct the fabric of society. For many victims of conflict, both security and reconciliation are fundamentally linked to justice. This is difficult to deliver, especially when extreme atrocities have been committed, or when the conflict has fragmented into multiple armed groups and shifting allegiances.

Post-conflict countries tend to be characterized by weak governments and state institutions, tenuous law and order, fragile economies, and enormous social needs. They lack either the resources or infrastructure to adequately provide security, and yet without it there is little chance of reconstruction. The creation of a national military and the disarmament, demobilization, resettlement and reintegration of former combatants are often priorities. But the economic situation can be a significant constraint. Unless they can find employment, disaffected former combatants with easy access to small arms can threaten stability. In post-conflict societies, both inclusive political processes and expanded economic opportunities are needed to bring about and maintain even minimal security. The assistance provided for reconstruction by Africas partners, including the World Bank, reflects an increasing recognition of the complexities of post-conflict countries and the need for a longer-term perspective.

Political, economic and social aspects of security

NEPAD recognizes that security or the lack of it has explicitly political dimensions, and that it is essentially a governance and public policy issue. Political exclusion, abuse of human rights, and poor governance have been major contributors to insecurity in many African countries in the past. The persistence of conflict and political instability highlight the difficulties of institutionalizing democracy, and in some instances there is need to rebuild the legitimacy of the state before its security can be assured. At a minimum, even if they cannot guarantee security, governments have a moral responsibility not to erode it through arbitrary behavior, or violations of the law and human rights. The NEPAD Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance specifically addresses these issues, reflecting an understanding that over the long term security in African countries, as elsewhere, is likely to be assured through greater democratization and participation in governance.

In established democracies, a reasonable degree of security is assured through the effective functioning of state institutions and the predictability of government actions. Both of these still need to be strengthened in most African countries, despite considerable progress in recent years. NEPAD, through the African Peer Review Mechanism, can facilitate this process by identifying issues that need to be addressed, determining actions to be taken, and measuring progress toward meeting defined goals. Provided it is seriously undertaken, peer review can help build governmental commitment to the democratic processes and protection of rights and fundamental freedoms that underpin security.

The security of individual groups within countries is ultimately dependent on the degree of security afforded to the society as a whole. In this regard, it is incumbent on governments to implement policies that will maximize security for all citizens, given available resources, and create a normative environment of tolerance and inclusion. Where citizens have largely withdrawn from interaction with the state, or have lost trust in government policies and structures, the security of both the state and individuals is undermined. In any society, security depends on the active cooperation of the population. Citizens need to see themselves as active stakeholders, and recognize their role in ensuring security. In many countries, this is not yet the case, in part because of past government policies. In some instances also, the security of women and minority groups is limited by the fact that they do not enjoy equal rights and protections under the law.

Increasingly in African countries, problems such as lack of economic opportunity, unemployment, violent crime, and poverty threaten the security of individuals. Left unaddressed, over time these problems can also undermine national security. In its focus on creating broad-based economic growth, attracting investment and creating employment, and providing opportunities for people to act on their own development initiatives, NEPAD is directly concerned with these economic and social determinants of security. To the extent that actions and policies to address these problems are successful, they will help to improve security. However, care is needed to ensure that the benefits of economic growth are extended to all segments of society, and not just a few. Increased prosperity will not result in improved security if it only widens the gap between the rich and poor. Indeed, the existence of a disaffected, unemployed and ghettoized underclass cut off from opportunities for progress may well fuel tensions, leading to increased insecurity and even armed conflict.

NEPAD clearly recognizes the importance of education to development. Over time, better provision of education can also be expected to decrease insecurity, particularly of the most disadvantaged. Lack of education contributes to personal insecurity in that the poorly educated have limited opportunities for employment, and face hurdles in understanding and obtaining their rights, or voicing their concerns. Large numbers of poorly educated, unemployed people also present a potential challenge to civil security, especially when combined with exaggerated expectations and ambitions. In many countries, high percentages of young people lacking education and skills are a particular concern. This is especially the case in countries coming out of conflict, where fragile security can easily be undermined. In social and economic terms, there is also a specific gender dimension to security, in that women are often among the most vulnerable. NEPADs Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance underscores the importance of ensuring womens equal political and economic participation, measures that would also increase their security.

HIV/AIDS is coming to the fore as a major security issue in a number of African countries, not only because of its detrimental effect on the security of those directly affected and their families, but also because of the economic consequences on society as a whole. In an already precarious situation the loss of a breadwinner can be catastrophic in terms of personal security. But so too, the loss of earnings and productivity resulting from the pandemic constitute a real threat to security by undermining the economic progress of countries, while at the same time increasing demands on already overstretched health services. NEPAD clearly recognizes the threat to development posed by HIV/AIDS, and the need to take urgent action.

Security sector reform

A broader view of human security, though essential, does not diminish the need for adequate measures to ensure state security. Nor does it minimize the important role that security forces play. With its emphasis on governance, NEPAD provides an opportunity for consideration of what sort of security forces can best meet the needs of African countries, and how they can meet new and changing challenges to security. The NEPAD Initial Action Plan clearly recognizes that this may entail reform of security sector policies and institutions. Such reform requires an understanding of what can realistically be obtained. All security is relative, and African countries have to determine what measures they can put in place, given their circumstances and resources.

In a large number of countries, building greater trust in security forces will be a necessary part of security sector reform, given that civil-military relations are weak or under strain. For many, especially the poor, security forces are associated with oppression and repression, rather than protection. Like other state institutions, African security forces have suffered as a result of poor governance. Loyalty to the party, rather than professionalism, was required by single-party regimes, while political leaders often relied on special forces drawn from their own ethnic or religious group or geographic region and operating independently of national militaries. Such selective recruitment had a particularly negative impact on security, and in some instances the societal divisions and fear it provoked still exist. Frequently, lack of delineation between responsibilities for external and domestic security meant that relatively little attention was given to civil security and to the creation of well-trained police forces, protection of human rights, or access to justice of the majority of citizens.

Though rather more attention was given to militaries than to police, this did not always extend to consideration of their role and function in terms of providing real security for the majority of citizens, or to their professionalism or effective management. The result was often large but poorly educated, ill-trained and under-equipped military establishments, that in and of themselves presented a challenge to security. Frequently, political interference exacerbated the problems. Militaries also generally fared worse under military regimes, where involvement in politics seriously eroded their professional functioning. As a consequence, mistrust of security forces is particularly pronounced in countries that have experienced military rule. In most countries, intelligence establishments operated with even less scrutiny and oversight than civil security forces or militaries, at times resulting in severe abuses.

As a result of past policies and practices, there is limited general public understanding of security and defense issues. The on-going process of democratization and economic reform in most African countries has already resulted in considerable changes in military forces. This has been accelerated by African involvement in conflict management and peacekeeping on the continent. Yet with few exceptions, there has not been a debate on what sort of security forces are needed to best meet domestic security needs, or what constitutes an appropriate role and function for security establishments in a changing world. All countries have to balance national security concerns with accountability and the rights of citizens to know how public resources are used, and African countries are no exception. While not everything can be in the public domain, most African countries have traditionally inherited and employed a greater degree of secrecy in security matters than can be justified. Increased openness implies changes in the way security forces operate, as well as a more active role for citizens and independent oversight institutions.

These changes cannot effectively be undertaken piecemeal. In real terms, what is required in most African countries is a process of security sector transformation. This cannot be undertaken in isolation, but must be part of broader processes of improving public sector governance and building the capacity of state institutions. The governance improvements that are promoted under NEPAD should extend to the security sector. This is already underway in some countries, but in others security has not yet been incorporated into the reform agenda. A comprehensive approach is needed because security sector transformation is an intensely political issue, rather than a technical process. It is also unlikely that security forces will embrace reform if it is forced on them. They need to be convinced of its necessity and deeply involved in all stages, contributing to the long-term planning of appropriate security strategies as well as to their execution.

African countries, like others, are also faced with new challenges to security. These increasingly include threats from non-state actors, and comprise terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime, as well as rebellion. The resources such groups have at their disposal is frequently far in excess of those available to national security establishments. At the same time, security forces often remain organized to meet more traditional threats to national security. NEPAD can encourage countries to determine what challenges to security exist, and how they can best be addressed. This could lead to the definition of appropriate security and defense strategies, and in turn, to the development of feasible security policies and the creation of professional security forces able to effectively implement them.

Fundamental to the development of such security policies is an understanding of how much and what type of security can be financed. Many African countries have been accused of excessively funding security forces at the expense of development. While the defense budgets of some countries have undoubtedly been disproportionately large, others have not actually had sufficient funds to create modern, well-trained and equipped militaries. In fact, in most instances the proportion of national budgets devoted to military spending in Africa has not been higher than that of countries in other regions. There are no easy formulas to determine what constitutes an appropriate level of military expenditure. Governments must, with the broad approval of citizens, make trade-offs in terms of how scarce resources are allocated. Ensuring that results are obtained, and that there is accountability and transparency in the use of funds, is probably more important than the overall amounts spent on security forces. This has not often been the case in Africa to date.

The same principles of sound budgeting and financial management need to be applied to the military as to other government departments. Force size and structure have financial implications, as does the military mission. At times in the past, African countries created security forces that they lacked the resources to maintain. At others, corruption and mismanagement reduced operational efficiency. No country in the world can afford its ideal security apparatus all have to make compromises. African countries face greater constraints because of the limited resources at their disposal, meaning that defining the most serious threats to security and focusing on objectives is even more essential. While hard decisions are needed about the relative amounts to be apportioned to military and civil security, it also has to be recognized by both African countries and their partners that building competent security forces is expensive, at least in the short-term. Civil security institutions in particular have been so neglected in many countries that considerable resources will be required to restore them to levels needed for public order.

As institutional capacity in many African states deteriorated in the 1980s and 1990s and the ability of governments to guarantee security declined, a variety of private security groups emerged to fill the gap. These encompass a huge range, from the benign to the outright criminal. To the extent that they operate outside of the law, these groups contribute to overall insecurity and a downward spiral of lawlessness. In many instances, their connections to illegal activities mean that they are better resourced and better armed than state forces. In conflict situations, warlords, private military companies and mercenaries, as well as organized rebel groupings, have challenged the ability of state militaries to exercise control over territory or obtain military advantages, often prolonging conflict.

In some countries, mafia-type groups have taken advantage of the security vacuum to expand their criminal activities, in the process entrenching organized violence. Vigilante groups, often formed in response to the inability of state structures to exercise effective civil control, have frequently become part of the problem, dispensing summary justice to opponents and spreading fear among ordinary citizens. Even though private security companies legally employed to guard persons, installations or property and operating within the law can provide security for specific groups, their long-term contribution to the overall security situation is less clear. While in industrialized countries such companies augment government security structures, in a number of African countries they have become the first line of defense for some groups, effectively replacing state forces and undermining their authority. Moreover, private firms only provide security to those who can pay, leaving the poor and disadvantaged underserved.

Effective security sector reform must be based on adequate analysis and identification of the security needs of both states and their citizens. It also requires realistic assessment of the capabilities of African security establishments, and analysis of the costs of building modern, professional forces. The capacity to undertake such assessments is only now being built within security institutions themselves, let alone within civil society, in Africa. Nonetheless, several African countries have begun the process of reform, and lessons can be learned from their experience. It is not just in Africa that reform is underway. Security is a complex issue, and throughout the world security establishments have to constantly review their mandate and operations and adapt to meet changing needs and circumstances. Since the end of the Cold War the security environment has radically changed, but recent developments have brought security issues to the forefront of the policy agenda once again.


NEPAD is far-reaching in its vision. It provides a comprehensive framework for Africas development and more complete integration into the global economy. It defines a new, more equitable relationship between African countries and their development partners, but also promotes greater democratic participation and the more active engagement of populations in achieving national development objectives. It also clearly recognizes the imperative of peace, and underlines that stability and security are fundamental prerequisites for development. To achieve its goals, NEPAD will depend on the active participation and collaboration of African governments and peoples, as well as their international partners. It is intended to be a long-term process and, while many benchmarks can be established to chart its progress, NEPADs overall success will lie in the extent to which it contributes to reduced poverty and enhanced human security on the continent. Discussions within the GCA, as well as other forums, can play some role in popularizing NEPAD and promoting participation in its implementation, and also in recognizing its achievements.

* The following section does not provide a comprehensive overview of NEPAD, but merely highlights some of its key elements. The basic NEPAD framework document, dated October 2001, along with the Initial Action Plan presented to the African Union Summit in July 2002, provide detailed information.
** The responsibilities and powers of the Peace and Security Council are delineated in the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the Africa Union, adopted by the 1st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union, Durban, 9 July 2002.

2004 Policy Forum - Migration and Development in Africa
TICAD Asia-Africa Trade and Investment Conference (AATIC) - Tokyo, Japan - November 1 and 2, 2004
Annual Reports
  © 2022 Global Coalition for Africa (GCA) - All Rights Reserved.