Peru is the single largest producer of cocaine in the world. It's also an incredibly safe country.
ROBERT MUGGAH AND JEREMY MCDERMOTTAPR 24 2013, 12:30 PM ETAnti-narcotics police chemists test cocaine from a bag before its incineration in Lima on April 18, 2013. (Enrique Castro-Mendivil/Reuters)
Peru is the single largest producer and exporter of cocaine in the world. And after decades of foreign-funded eradication efforts in the country, the industry is thriving. Most of the estimated 325 tons of the stuff produced each year is making its way to Brazilian and European markets, earning Peruvian organized crime well over $1 billion annually. By the time this hits the streets in Rio, it is worth five times that amount. Get it to London and you can multiply that figure tenfold. And because Peru enjoys economic growth that Europe can only dream of, its domestic drug market is expanding, promising yet more problems down the road.
The Peruvian authorities are worried about crime. Under increasing public pressure, President Ollanta Humala has made citizen security one of the center-pieces of his government. And with good reason: the drug trade alone is cause for concern, but the illegal gold-mining industry earns almost three times as much as the drug business. Put into the mix human trafficking, the trade in illicit timber, and the trafficking of Peruvian antiquities, the earnings for organized crime in the country add up to at least $5 billion a year, perhaps closer to $7 billion. This kind of cash has a corrosive effect on government institutions, including the armed forces, police, and customs and immigration officials.
But little is known about the scale or nature of organized crime in Peru. What experts do agree is that repression, interdiction, and coca eradication are not working out as planned, and that the dynamics of the drug trade have changed. Instead of feeding the once-insatiable U.S. market, Peru may now account for as little as five percent of the estimated 300 tons of cocaine Americans snort. Now Brazil, the world's second-biggest market, sucks up much of Peruvian drug production, often not as cocaine but its more addictive and cheaper variants, crack or "bazuco."
Most law enforcement specialists believe that locals run the production and local transportation of cocaine, while Colombian and Mexican intermediaries manage exports, with the recent appearance of the Russian mob to shake things up a bit. The business is supposedly straight-forward. Hundreds of campesinos (farmers) grow the crop, mainly in central and northern Peru. The cocaleros sell the coca leaf or coca base to clanes (small criminal groups often based around families), who ship either coca base or processed cocaine, to a handful of firmas (Peruvian organized crime syndicates), which shift the drugs to departure points (airports, seaports, and border areas) ready to move to Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Brazil. While some Peruvian capos (drug lords) are known to operate in neighboring countries, groups like the Sinaloa cartel and the Russian mob generally handle export.
In spite of government rhetoric to the contrary, organized crime seems to growing unmolested. Virtually no serious players are known to have been arrested or prosecuted for drug running. The one big case working its way through the courts at the moment, involving the notorious Sanchez Paredes clan, looks set to collapse. To add insult to impunity, former President Alan Garcia pardoned some 400 drug traffickers during his second term of office, citing overcrowded jails. And current President Humala also pardoned as many as 100 criminals convicted of trafficking since his election in 2011.
There is remarkably little concern in Peru over all of this. Peruvians are far more worried about the common crime that touches their daily lives, than the organized crime that has shown itself capable of corrupting the police, prosecutors, judges, and it seems, presidents. And this is because, unlike in Colombia and Mexico, the drug trade involves very little violence. While popular perceptions of insecurity are rising slightly, Peru is widely considered one of the safest countries in South America.
There are at least two possible explanations for this paradox.
The first is that analysts (including the present authors) are completely misreading the situation. In other words, it could very well be that there is considerable violence between producers, dealers and exporters as they compete over market share. The fact is that it is almost impossible to know one way or another. There is no reliable baseline data on the situation and even the most basic figures are wildly inconsistent. For example, the Ministry of the Interior claims that there are 10,000 homicides each year, while the National Police argue that there are just 3,000.
A second possibility is that there is in fact complicity in the drug trade at the highest levels. This would imply that political, economic, and criminal elites are managing competition peacefully. It would also follow that there are pacts also negotiated between campesinos, clanes, firmas, and capos , as well as the foreign cartels. High rates of corruption in government would of course ensure limited interference in illicit business. Since there is so much illegal money washing around there is no need to fight for it, there is more than enough to go around. There may also be no need to resort to violence if bribes will work. One hardened, and frustrated, police veteran once commented that the plomo (lead) is seldom needed, as plata (silver) always does the job.
Whichever interpretation is right, the fact remains that Peru faces the almost certain prospect of a dangerous escalation of organized crime and criminal violence. After radically reducing its support to Peru in recent years, the United States has instead concentrated its attention on Colombia, Central America, and Mexico. Not surprisingly, Peru has sought to step-up alternative partnerships, particularly with Brazil, the main consumer of Peruvian drugs and the regional giant. In the past decade, Peru has signed more than 60 conventions to formalize intelligence, defense, police and judicial cooperation with Brazil, France, Russia, Spain and the United Kingdom, among others. Rather than asking for more funds, Peru is requesting technical and training support to improve the quality of its law enforcement sector. The government also recently spent some $400 million on attack helicopters.
Experts hope that the Peruvian authorities will balance muscular law and order activities with prevention programs, including alternative development.
If history is any guide, a heavy fist may only make matters worse.
Robert Muggah, re-posted from OpenCanada.org
The post-2015 development agenda will shape the direction of aid policy and practice for decades. And for the selected goals to be useful, they must also be perceived to be legitimate and universal. The very fact that they are being subjected to wide-ranging global debate is testament to the ways in which the tectonic plates of aid are fundamentally shifting. For its part, the High Level Panel is playing a critical role in guiding the form and content of future goals, targets and indicators. Its diverse membership of international leaders and experts is intended to ensure tomorrow’s aid architecture accounts for the latest insights from around the world.
A signal question confronting the High Level Panel is the place of conflict, violence, and fragility in the post-2015 development equation. For the past two years this issue has preoccupied thousands of diplomats, activists, and practitioners. Their concerns were given voice most recently during United Nations-supported consultations in Monrovia, Panama, Jakarta, andHelsinki. Routinely highlighted at these meetings was the central place of “peace” – whether conceived narrowly as the absence of violence or described in broad terms as safety, security and freedom from fear. For his part, the United Nations Secretary General also declared that the transformation of “violent conflicts and fragility into peace, justice and shared prosperity” must be a cornerstone of the post-2015 agenda.
There is solid empirical evidence illustrating the correlations between conflict, violence, fragility and development. Statistical research demonstrates how persistent insecurity leads to underdevelopment and improvements in safety contribute to sustainable development. Countries and cities exhibiting the highest rates of violence also register the lowest gains in social and economic progress. Moreover, where low levels of human development persist, the incidence of real and perceived violence also tend to be high. These are hardly novel findings. They are clearly outlined in the World Development Report , the Global Burden of Armed Violence , and countless studies issued by the United Nations, research institutes and non-governmental organizations.
There is also growing support among some governments for ensuring conflict and violence prevention and resilience to fragility are elevated as key pillars of the post-2015 agenda. The so-called g7+ and dozens of other states have stressed the importance of security and justice promotion together with armed violence reduction and peace-building as critical for the future of sustainable development. As Larry Attree observes, European Union members explicitly highlighted peace and security as core priorities for the post-2015 framework. What is more, a recent poll of over 200,000 people highlights how the “protection against crime and violence” ranks as among the top priorities for future goals. This has in turn prompted the Beyond 2015coalition to include peace and security as a red flag issue in judging the recommendations of the High Level Panel.
Given widespread global support for ensuring conflict, violence and fragility are included in post-2015 development framework, why the hesitancy on the part of the High Level Panel?
For one, it seems that anxieties among some Panel members are less academic than political. Certain emerging powers are uneasy with the underlying assumptions and practices of conflict prevention, violence reduction and measures to redress fragility. Indeed, while conflict prevention is undergoing a renaissance in the United Nations, views are still mixed about the direction of the armed violence and fragility agendas in the General Assembly. A small but significant clutch of governments are wary of the ways in these issues might sanction intervention and trespass on national sovereignty. Some diplomats also feel that these themes fall outside of the remit of “development” and should be reserved for other forums in the United Nations (or elsewhere). The more orthodox among them insist the post-2015 agenda should be restricted to staples such as poverty reduction, social and economic equality, and the environment. According to John McArthur, stalwarts even contest the introduction of “governance” to the discussion.
Another obstacle is semantic. Although there is clearly appetite among many member states for including conflict, violence and fragility priorities in the post-2015 development framework, there is still disagreement on the basic terminology. Even well hewn concepts such as “peace” and “security” are disputed. In spite of considerable enthusiasm registered during global consultations in the Americas, Africa and Asia, there is still a surprising lack of consensus on how these expressions are defined. Such doubts raise obvious challenges when it comes to their translation into practical strategies. Discussions around the world have revealed a remarkable diversity of terms ranging from citizen, civilian, and personal security promotion to peace-building, peace-making, and peace consolidation. The High Level Panel would do well to acknowledge and celebrate this diversity and their unambiguous linkages with wider questions of development.
In light of these above mentioned tensions, it is hardly surprising that there are still ongoing debate on the appropriate metrics by which to measure improvements in conflict prevention, violence reduction and efforts to mitigate fragility. Certain governments wish to confine indicators to “output” measures such as the strengthening of institutions. Fortunately,considerable thinking by governments, thanks tanks, and researchers has gone into setting out a number of impact indicators to real and perceived outcomes. Many experts agree that reductions in the number of violent deaths, rates of displacement, the incidence of rape and sexual violence and the proportion of people feeling unsafe are a solid starting point. Other indices include changes in the confidence of citizens in security and justice institutions, access to judicial services, the proportion of victims reporting crime, and the extent of pretrial detention. These are all widely accepted and measurable indicators and could be considered in the deliberations of the High Level Panel.
There is ample public support and scholarly evidence to back a progressive approach to the post-2015 development agenda, including one that explicitly accounts for conflict and violence prevention and reduction. There are also practical reasons to take a bold approach since virtually no low-income fragile state is on track to achieve Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Fortunately, federal, state-level and municipal governments and civil societies around the globe are already developing programs that privilege the safety and security of citizens, mindful of the ways in which routine violence undermines development. There are promising innovations in Latin America, including Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. Many of these were designed with the understanding that the prevention and reduction of conflict and violence are not just a means to development, but worthwhile ends in their own right.
The High Level Panel has an historic opportunity to set out bold recommendations in its report to the United Nations Secretary General in May. To its credit, in November 2012 the Panel acknowledged the central role of conflict, violence and fragility in disabling development. But they can also take practical steps to making the world safer. At a minimum, panelists should reach out to diplomats and allay political concerns, clarify semantic disagreements, and propose metrics grounded in evidence and focused on improving the lives of civilians. They must make clear that peace is not the preserve of a small number of fragile countries, but is a universal public good for all United Nations member states and their citizens. This is the least the Panel can do on behalf of the half million peopled killed annually and millions more suffering from violence around the world.
A couple of months ago I was invited by UN Women and the Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping (CUNPK) to be present at their summit on “Women in Peacebuilding” in New Delhi, India (6-7 February 2013). The summit aimed to explore how to better advocate for the inclusion of women’s rights and to ensure greater participation of women in peacebuilding processes. This is no mean goal, and while it is not new, the world is a long way from achieving it.
The importance of equal participation and involvement of women in the maintenance and promotion of peace and security is stressed in the UN Security Council Resolution 1325. However, as summit participants emphasised, there is a lack of political will and an absence of national policies.
In response, Summit participants sought to identify ways to fuel local ownership and political will to ensure that SSR & peacebuilding processes are gender responsive. The following ten points emerged during some of the presentations delivered during the summit.
1) Inclusion in Peace Agreements: Women’s rights are rarely mentioned in peace agreements. It is important that these be factored in from the beginning and not later on.
2) Same interpretation of mission mandates: It is important that both the UN and the Troop Contributing Countries (TCC) agree on the interpretation of mandates, including on gender aspects to avoid misunderstandings. This topic should receive more attention.
3) Focus on training: During the pre-deployment training of troops it is essential to include gender, including sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) aspects. At the moment this is not always the case, or the training regarding this topic is very superficial.
4) Have a holistic view: It is crucial to have a holistic approach to gender responsive peacebuilding and SSR. Including all stakeholders in these processes and factoring in their respective needs is fundamental. This means taking into account the roles and needs of girls, boys, women and men.
5) Use indigenous mechanisms: When working in a post-conflict context, it is important to pay attention to the security and justice mechanisms that are already in place. In this context it is also useful to consider the role of women and how they can be included in the home-grown systems.
6) Evaluation of performance: As with all projects and programmes, it is important to monitor progress regularly. If necessary, the way of working can be modified/adapted. Of course, women should be included in the monitoring process as well.
7) It is important that the departments within the military sections of the mission working on information and situation awareness (G2), Operations (G3) and Planning (G5) include a gender specialist. It is not enough to have one gender specialist who advises all the sections or divisions of a field mission, each division, particularly those under the Force Commander, needs to have some gender awareness and/or capacity inside their own structure.
8) The foundational documents structuring the work of a mission, such as a Mandate Implementation Plan (MIP), a Concept of Operations (CONOPS), and the Force Commander’s Directive, are usually not drafted by people who understand resolution 1325. It is important that these documents include a gender perspective
9) Personnel focusing on gender aspects should be spread across the various sections/divisions of a field mission, rather than having a specialist gender section, since these sections are the most under-resourced and marginalized parts of the mission structure. For example, in the political section, it could be useful if the deputy would be a gender specialist.
10) It would be important for TCCs to have a commitment to include a women contingent, for example as a specific military or police unit.
These 10 points might sound obvious. However, they are clearly not sufficiently put into practice yet. The last four points relate to a necessary change in how the UN and its field missions should implement the UN resolution 1325. These type of institutional changes are often difficult especially in somewhere as large as the UN. Yet the UN must surely try to exemplify its own ambitions.
The expertise, knowledge, and skills of women are still vastly under-utilised when it comes to early warning, planning for peace, and sustainable gender sensitive rebuilding after conflict. It has been acknowledged that the exclusion of women and lack of gender expertise in negotiations have a negative impact on women’s engagement in post-conflict governance and women’s access to economic opportunity, justice and reparations. These topics are often neglected in peace agreements, as are human security concerns and security sector reform issues. In spite of the fact that women’s engagement in democratic governance, conflict resolution and economic activities has grown rapidly over the past decade, the report by the UN Secretary-General on Women, Peace and Security (2011) notes that the levels of women’s participation in peace negotiations, preventative efforts and other key decision-making processes related to peace and security remain abysmally low. It’s time for this to change.
Did you see any of the ten points mentioned here put into practice? Please post your thoughts and further ideas here, and I’ll be happy to feed them into the Summit organisers.
 Ms Betty Bigombe, State Minister for Water Resources, Government of Uganda, “Presentation on the role of women in peacebuilding”; Major General (Ret.) Patrick Cammaert, “Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Conflict and Post Conflict settings: the problem analysis”; Ms Lise Grande, UNRC India, “Engendering peacekeeping: a bottom up approach”; Ms Sarah Douglas, UN Women, “Recipe for success: Gender responsive SSR & Peacebuilding”
 It should be noted that the interpretations of the various presentations are those of the author.
'A Women’s Guide to Security Sector Reform' – it sounds like something George Bernard Shaw would have written, like his 'The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism' published in 1928. And yet, 85 years on, many parts of the world - including the Republic of Ireland, where Shaw was born - are still struggling with wealth distribution, gender equality, justice, rule of law and other aspects of human security. If Shaw were alive today, I like to think he might be writing exactly this sort of guide.
Written mainly for women who have not formally studied security or worked with the security sector, the Women’s Guide aims to build on the unique access which women often have to essential knowledge of community needs and to build on their strong desire to make the security sector serve communities better. It draws on the varied experiences of women in civil society from across the world and shares examples of practical, and sometimes innovative, projects. Leading female activists from Afghanistan, Liberia, Libya, Nepal, Serbia, and Uganda provided invaluable input.
In addition to introducing key concepts in security and SSR, the Women’s Guide outlines concrete ways for women and women’s organizations to get involved and influence reform from the grassroots. Included are specific steps on how to research security issues, form coalitions, plan strategically, develop recommendations, advocate (with ideas of how to target messages to specific audiences) and engage directly (such as through local security forums or providing training).
The Women’s Guide also contains practical tools for women to take action, such as activities to identify local security risks, sample letters to security sector officials asking for meetings, and talking points for meetings with policymakers and media. Particularly useful are definitions of security jargon, a key to the roles of major security actors, and ideas for how to counter skeptics who oppose women in civil society being part of SSR.
How women are taking action
Shaw was an avid proponent of action, and this Women’s Guide too can be used as a vehicle to bring civil society and local government actors together to discuss the status of gender and SSR and identify avenues for collaboration and cooperation. Already, plans are in the works for women from around the globe to use the Guide as a platform for engaging with the security sector. In conjunction with DCAF in May, Žene Ženama, a women's organization in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) will host four one-day launch workshops across BiH. Additional launches of the guide are being planned for later in the year in West Africa, Washington DC and the Middle East. Watch this space for more.
How can you support women taking action ?
These are just a few ideas. I'd love to hear yours - and any good experience you can share of civil society women contributing to SSR.
The Women’s Guide to Security Sector Reform has been produced by the Institute for Inclusive Security and The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of the Armed Forces (DCAF). It is available to download here: http://issat.dcaf.ch/Community-of-Practice/Resource-Library/Tools/A-Women-s-Guide-to-Security-Sector-Reform
I have long held the belief that the patchy success of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programmes is largely because there's little point having the D and the D if there's no meaningful R. In other words, you can disarm and demobilise a fighting youth as much as you like, but if youth are not able to find a sustainable means of reintegrating back into society and most importantly into the workforce and the economy, then they will go back to guns and to making a living how they know best and how circumstances allow.
Preaching this mantra, as is my wont, to those seated at my table at a working dinner in post-crisis country X last month, I was a little surprised to find that the DDR programme officer seated to my left also thought there was little point in disarmament. Having been asked by my local counterparts earlier during the day for case studies and programme plans of successful weapons collections programmes in other countries, I was hoping this DDR officer would be able to point me in the right direction. Instead he told me there was no point in carrying out weapons collection programmes in X-land right now. His reasons were numerous:
"In a country with the sort of long leaky borders you find here, people can re-arm themselves within ten days if they really want to" he said. "Handing in weapons, especially for cash incentives, just helps the arms trafficking trade, because people will simply keep coming back to hand in another weapon a few days later for another payment."
"No, no," he continued, "a weapons collection programme is often just another money-laundering scam for corrupt officials. It has a cathartic effect on the people and the government, and is especially soothing for foreign do-gooders and development agencies. It lulls everybody into a false sense of security, without really getting to the crux of the problem. Don't kid yourself, weapons collection programmes are not the panacea of DDR."
That all too familiar maxim these days 'Guns don't kill people, people kill people' (but as Eddie Izzard notes "the gun helps") comes to mind. Knowing that removing the need to resort to violence is the elusive way forward, I asked him how, in his opinion, to get to the crux of the problem. He listed his top three priorities for what, he felt, needs to be a multi-faceted approach:
That's no small order. But it does have the hallmarks of endurance and sustainability. It's not enough to confiscate weapons (although it helps) — the reason to use weapons needs to be defused. When people resort to violence, the state needs to be able to intervene effectively, and with the trust of its citizens. Finally, no state stands in isolation when it comes to stemming the flow of violence and conflict.
And I still add a fourth point:
4.Revitalise the economy and, importantly, the labour force; for idle hands work mischief.
Want to keep up to date on the SSR field? Once a week, the SSR Resource Centre posts pertinent news articles, reports, projects and updates on SSR related events over the past week. **NEW** Click here to have the SSR Weekly delivered straight to your inbox every Monday! - - News Articles Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organization
Security Governance Group Associate Frederic Labarre writes a field report based on his experiences at the 10th International Security Forum and the 15th Partnership for Peace Consortium Annual Conference from 22 April – 24 April 2013. To read the full post, click here. The joint International Security Forum (ISF) and Partnership for Peace Consortium (PfP C) Annual Conference were a
Want to keep up to date on the SSR field? Once a week, the SSR Resource Centre posts pertinent news articles, reports, projects and updates on SSR related events over the past week. **NEW** Click here to have the SSR Weekly delivered straight to your inbox every Monday! - News Articles Elections in Zimbabwe May
Sean Jellow, a Research and Communications Intern at the Security Governance Group, explains the state of security sector reform in Zimbabwe in light of the upcoming elections. Click here to read the full post. Hope for security sector reform in Zimbabwe is disappearing quickly as the political crisis in the country drives a deepening wedge into the
Want to keep up to date on the SSR field? Once a week, the SSR Resource Centre posts pertinent news articles, reports, projects and updates on SSR related events over the past week. **NEW** Click here to have the SSR Weekly delivered straight to your inbox every Monday! - - News Articles Chiefs Will Not Meet
European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgments can have a huge impact in Member States by highlighting systemic and serious problems in human rights protection. But what happens once the initial furore over an ECtHR judgment dies down? The implementation process is critical to the success of the ECtHR system.
European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgments can have a huge impact in Member States by highlighting systemic and serious problems in human rights protection. But what happens once the initial furore over an ECtHR judgment dies down? The implementation process is critical to the success of the ECtHR system.
A five-year effort taking place in Michigan, New Jersey and North Carolina, and sponsored by the Vera Institute of Justice with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates, Ford, Kellogg, Open Society and Sunshine Lady foundations, is providing prisoners the opportunity to study college or vocational coursework two years before and after their release.
The WJP Rule of Law Index is an assessment tool from the World Justice Project that offers a comprehensive picture of adherence to the rule of law. It uses polls of experts and the general populations of countries to assess issues of government accountability, fundamental rights, openness of government, and access to justice.
The latest publication in the Justice & Development Working Paper Series, "The Drug Treatment Court Concept: the Jamaican Drug Courts" by Stephane Jackson-Haisley, is now uploaded on the World Bank's Justice for the Poor webpage (http://www.worldbank.org/justiceforthepoor) and the INPROL Digital Library (
Gender and the Security Sector: Theory of Change Workshop
By Philip Emase*
The Africa Security Sector Network (ASSN) has commissioned a baseline study to aimed at providing evidence-based information on the status of Gender mainstreaming at the national level, as part of the ASSN's effort to support the operationalisation of the African Union Security Sector Reform (AU SSR) Policy Framework.
The decision to undertake this baseline study was informed by the fact that efforts in Africa to integrate Gender and women's rights perspectives into Security and Justice Sector Reform are largely undocumented and unreported. The baseline study will build upon existing Gender assessments and surveys of security sector institutions to provide information that is relevant for programming and subsequent impact assessments of Gender initiatives within security and justice sector reform programmes.
On 15-16 November 2011, the ASSN organised a two-day Theory of Change (TOC) workshop in Accra, Ghana, as the first step towards developing the overarching research questions for the baseline study, as well as to guide the research questionnaires and provide advice to the consultants who will be undertaking the research.
The workshop had 14 participants from a range of backgrounds and disciplines. These included representatives from the International Crisis Group (ICG), the Ghana Police Service, WIPSEN-Africa, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and Ghana Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MOWAC) and ASSN programme staff.
There were three main objectives for the workshop:
· To understand the rationale for promoting Gender in SSR and the assumptions implicit within this;
· To engage the country research-leads and ensure a common understanding of the context and rationale for the study;
· To develop a set of overarching research questions to frame the baseline study.
The workshop was not intended to in detail develop possible interventions or policy objectives, though these aspects were discussed as part of the overall process.
With the engagement objective in mind, the workshop was highly participatory. There were very few short presentations by the facilitators and the majority of work was done by the participants in small groups. The participants were mixed around as much as possible to ensure that they were all exposed to a range of opinions from different stakeholders.
The activities undertaken during the workshop encouraged participants to think about Gender and SSR in the broader social, political and economic context. The workshop was structured to enable them think holistically about all dimensions of the problem, progressively narrow the focus to areas of likely intervention and identify the specific indicators or behaviours that the researchers could assess during the baseline study.
Through a range of exercises, the workshop led participants to:
·Reach a common understanding of Gender and SSR;
·Agree on a vision for Gender and SSR;
·Define what needs to happen for this vision to be realised ;
·Identify what the ASSN can do to bring about change and how this will contribute to the overall vision ;
·Outline some indicators of change ;
·Determine some key research questions for the baseline study.
The baseline study is currently being undertaken in Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea-Conakry, Sierra Leone and South Sudan.
*Philip Emase is the Information and Communications Officer of the African Security Sector Network(ASSN). This article first appeared in the January 2012 edition ofThe ASSN Quarterly newsletter.Thefull report of the Accra Theory of Change workshop is available on this link.
Written by Professor Medhane Tadesse who is a Senior SSR Advisor to the African Union, as well as the ASSN's Regional Coordinator for the Horn of Africa.
The stories of most conferences on Somalia, however different their sponsors and colloquium, are basically the same. They start with great hype and optimism and finish precariously. In the last two months, much international policy has focused on the idea of supporting Somalia. This is of concern to the international community for numerous reasons, including the humanitarian crises that it generates, and the propensity to export problems to its neighbours and globally, including piracy, refugees, armed conflict and terrorism.
Until recently, many would have considered Somalia as a manageable crisis. But this is now changing. The UK-led London Conference on Somalia that took place on 23 February 2012 has persuaded many that the international community, particularly the Western powers, has finally realised that it cannot afford to ignore the crisis in Somalia. What is certain is the persistent but parochial nature and narrow focus of external actors. International responses have been half-hearted at best, with serious efforts directed only at the economic interests of the international community in stopping piracy. This is quite depressing, considering that the original impetus for the conference was thought to be the rising costs of piracy. Equally important is (Somali) Diaspora radicalisation and the upcoming London Olympics.
Despite this grave shortcoming, the London conference has been extremely useful in providing a high profile status for the crisis in Somalia, creating a consensus on the political transition, and strengthening the African Union (peacekeeping) Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Most importantly, the conference brought Somali, African, Middle Eastern and Western players together. The conference moved the Somali crisis out of the hostile corners of the Horn of Africa onto the centre stage of world politics. Hopefully, the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) will no longer decide the fate of Somalia alone. Everyone concerned with Somalia from the international community was present in London – a success of sorts.
International approaches to Somalia have had mixed success. The value of the London Conference should be measured against three major principles that could help to facilitate the transition in Somalia. These principles are widely known and widely supported, and it should not be difficult to bring about an international consensus in their support. They include a consensus on the transition itself, support for AMISOM and the post-transition political reconstruction of Somalia. The conference agreed that the mandates of the Transitional Federation Institutions (TFIs) must end in August 2012. Instead, a new authority will be established with the sole role of facilitating the creation and development of local administrations all over the country.
This is understandable since TFIs have been ineffective and dysfunctional since their formation. The conference welcomed the UN resolution expanding AMISOM`s mandate and raising its troop ceiling.
However most of the decision points are ambiguous, to say the least. In some cases the outcome of the Conference threatens to destroy the gains made to date. The main insurgent group, Al Shabaab is marginalized from the whole process while Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) has been relegated to a sideshow. In actual fact the London Conference ended up de-legitimising the two major players in the Somali political and armed conflict. And yet the road map requires the TFG executive to make good-faith efforts to facilitate the transition. This will not happen soon. To be sure, it is highly unlikely that the main insurgent group would agree to any peace plan. Neither the TFG nor Al Shabaab will seriously consider the provisions that emerged from such an international conference. International actors have not gained leverage with either the Government or the opposition, and the conflict will continue to be ugly and costly.
Obviously, such an internationally endorsed framework of principles is not self-implementing, and will be rejected by Al Shabaab, ignored by the top leaders of the TFG and compromised by the unrelenting rivalry among local administrations, as is evident by the proliferation of local entities with minimal relevance to the realities on the ground.
The Somali people, too, may object to the continued presence of foreign forces, particularly the provisions allowing troops from neighbouring countries to be integrated into AMISOM and act with impunity. The London Conference, it should be clear, no longer holds any hope of ending the conflict in Somalia. It was not a peace conference. Piracy and counter-terrorism concerns are still dominant in many governments, including that of the UK. Despite the optimism expressed by many in relation to the London Conference, the political and military conditions for a ceasefire, durable peace and the beginning of a robust process of state building do not exist and do not appear imminent. Somalia is unlikely to see the establishment of a functional national unity government in the months, if not years, following the August deadline. State collapse, a complex insurgency and violent conflict are likely to continue to define Somali affairs.
This article was first published in the ASSN Quarterly April 2012, No. 3 /2012.