13 December 2011
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA - A meeting to brief ambassadors from French-speaking African countries on the African Union (AU) Security Sector Reform Policy Framework was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Requested and sponsored by the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), the meeting was attended by representatives from Burundi, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), Gabon, Mali, Morocco, Senegal, and Rwanda.
Several other non-African countries (Austria, Belgium, Romania, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates) also sent representatives.
The discussion was preceded by three presentations. The first by Dr. Niagalé Bagayoko (OIF) focussed on the specificities of the Security Sector in Francophone Africa. The second presentation by Professor Kossi Agokla of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament (UNREC) dwelt on Democratic Control of the Security Sector, while in the third presentation, Lieutenant-Colonel Christophe Touko of the African Union focussed on the AU Security Sector Reform (SSR) Policy Framework itself.
Dr. Mpako Foaleng from the International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT) also delivered brief remarks about ISSAT and its relationship with the African Security Sector Network (ASSN), pointing out the possibilities presented by the partnership between these two organisations in terms of support for the operationalisation of the AU policy.
A critical discussion followed in which a number of pertinent issues were raised. These included discussions as to how workable a continental SSR policy could actually be made, given the peculiarities of the Francophone, Lusophone, Anglophone and Arab security systems on the continent; how and to what extent civilians could actually gain the capacity to engage with the Security Sector in Africa, given its general lack of transparency; what level of credible and effective parliamentary oversight is to be expected, given the fact that parliaments in many African countries have little independence beyond supporting the executive and the ruling party; and whether donors can support SSR in African countries without trying to influence the process in their own interest.
The discussion also pointed out problems of translation, particularly the challenges of rendering English concepts and terminologies (such as 'accountability' and 'national ownership') into French.