9 November 2011
JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN - In keeping with its mission of promoting an African-centred agenda and African presence and expertise in the areas of Security and Justice Sector Reform (SJSR), the African Security Sector Network (ASSN) undertook a week-long mission to South Sudan on 2-9 November 2011, with support from the Security and Justice Group in the Stabilisation Unit at the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
The ASSN team comprised Lieutenant-General (Rtd) Gebretsadkan Gebretensae (Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Research and Dialogue (CPRD) and Team Leader), Professor Eboe Hutchful (Chair, ASSN), Brigadier-General (Rtd) Kellie Conteh (then the National Security Coordinator of the Republic of Sierra Leone), and Ecoma Alaga (Senior Programme Manager, ASSN, and gender expert).
The main purpose of the mission was to explore potential entry points and opportunities for the ASSN to work with the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) on issues of security and justice reform in the new state.
Of particular interest to the mission (and reflecting the expressed priorities of the GoSS) were the following issues:
i) the Establishment and operationalisation of a national security architecture, including a national security council and secretariat;
ii) Development of a national security policy/strategy;
iii) Intelligence reforms;
iv) Security literacy and capacity development for oversight bodies like parliament and the relevant ministries such as Interior, Defence and Veteran Affairs, and
v) Improved cooperation between the African Union (AU) and the GoSS.
Additional areas explored by the mission team included i) the role and current capacity of the South Sudanese civil society in relation to security oversight; ii) Approaches to gender issues in ongoing security and justice reforms; and iii) Potential linkages between SJSR efforts in the South Sudan, the AU SSR Policy Framework (AUSSRPF), and broader African SJSR experiences.
The ASSN team conducted interviews and focus group discussions with a variety of stakeholders: from the GoSS; the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS); members of the International and Regional Community (including the African Union (AU) Liaison Office); and finally civil society and women's groups, mainly targeting actors in Juba.
The perception of the mission is that the GoSS is keen to kick-start work in the areas listed above. In addition it is keen to a) facilitate effective coordination of international assistance as to ensure coherence with the GoSS' priorities and aspirations and among the plethora of external actors; b) ensure these processes are achieved through a consultative, inclusive, representative and participatory approach; and c) draw on support and expertise from African institutions, notably the AU and other African countries.
The international community has a high (and still growing) profile in terms of various levels and areas of support for security and justice sector reforms in South Sudan (by contrast, the African presence has been minimal and fragmentary). Among the actors interviewed by the mission (to cite only two),UNMISS plans (under its new mandate) to field a strong SSR team, with programmes that will include police reform and support for state level security coordination mechanisms. Adam Smith International (ASI) is running an advanced UK-funded Security Sector Development and Defence
Transformation (SSDDT) programme; and supporting the Joint Operations Centres (JOC), State Security Committees (SSC), parliament and the civil society (including facilitating a civil society security sector dialogue forum).
The South Sudanese civil society has also been engaged in these processes mainly through the auspices of the Civil Society Security Sector Dialogue Forum. However, Civil Society appears to be constrained by limited access to information on the reform effort, lack of funding, tensions with (the much larger and often better funded) international NGOs, narrow focus of operations (e.g. referendum, elections), weak capacity for (evidence based) research, analysis and programme management, and politicisation along ethnic lines.
All four categories of stakeholders welcomed the prospective role of the ASSN, while at the same time underscoring the huge and complex challenges confronting the South Sudanese security sector and the country as a whole.
The consensus of opinion was that were several key areas where the ASSN could add value to the ongoing and emerging reform efforts. These include (but are not limited to) the various processes associated with:
(a) Developing a national security policy and strategy;
(b) Establishing a coordinating secretariat for the NSC;
(c) Institutional reforms within the intelligence agency, police and border management agencies;
(d) Enhancing strategic awareness and security literacy among senior GoSS officials, parliamentarians and civil society;
(e) Gender mainstreaming; and
(f) Facilitating linkages with the AU and other African actors.
The ASSN is exploring a framework agreement with the GoSS to allow collaborative work in these areas.