South Africa

South Africa

Case Studies

South Africa: Building Capacity for Human Security

South Africa is perhaps the most important case study of successful, locally owned peacebuilding and human security. Intensive training and coaching of South African leaders in negotiation, mediation and conflict analysis supported the intense transition from apartheid to political democracy. Local level peacebuilding efforts added up to national-level peacebuilding. As one of the most inspiring success stories of locally-led peacebuilding, South Africa’s independent and highly skilled civil society played important roles in both local and high-level negotiation and mediation processes. Growing out of this experience, South Africans are now in a position to assist in peaceful transitions to democracy in other countries through the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD). ACCORD takes a non-sectarian, independent stance to advance human security.

ACCORD’s Training for Peace (TfP) Programme began in 1995 to build the capacity of civil society and the security sector in peacebuilding, particularly in Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, Burundi and countries in the South African Development Community (SADC), but also further afield in Europe and elsewhere. ACCORD runs the TfP programme in collaboration with The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria; the Kofi Annan International Peace Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra; and the Norwegian Institute for International Affairs (NUPI) in Oslo. Approximately 7000 civilians, police and military – many currently serving in UN and African peace operations – have been trained through the TfP Programme, and about 300 publications have been produced, encompassing research papers, books, reports, manuals, readers and handbooks.

The TfP Programme's primary purpose is to significantly improve the civilian capacity of African states, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) / Regional Mechanisms (RMs), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) to prepare, plan, manage and monitor multi-dimensional peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations in Africa. This is done through a combination of training, applied research and policy development, towards:

• Contributing towards the development of a multi-dimensional and integrated approach to African peace operations;

• Building civilian capacity for AU and UN peace operations;

• Assisting the AU and the RECs/RMs in the development of the civilian structures of their standby forces and PLANELMs; and

• Creating awareness on the civilian dimension of the ASF.

Training of civilian and police peacekeeping and peacebuilding personnel takes place in “classrooms, boardrooms, in halls of power and the African bush” with a focus on conflict analysis, negotiation and mediation, the role of civilians, particularly women, in peace and security. ACCORD works closely with the African Civilian Standby Roster for Humanitarian and Peacebuilding Missions (AFDEM), whose role is to provide the link between training and deployment. Graduates of the TfP are screened and placed on AFDEM's standby roster. AFDEM also facilitates deployment to UN or African peace operations, UN agencies or civil society organizations.

ACCORD also takes part in gender mainstreaming and integrating the women, peace and security agenda in peace operations, having over two decades of practical experience in peacekeeping and the implementation of UNSCR 1325 (See Fiji case study on women, peace and security in this report). ACCORD facilitates capacity building for women to understand the UN Secretary General’s Senior Women Talent Pipeline Project (SWTP) that aims to increase the number of senior level women in peacekeeping missions.

The first phase of the project led to the identification of 64 women for the Pipeline and deployment of 4 senior women to UN peace operations in the areas of Political Affairs, Rule of Law and Security Institutions, Civil Affairs, Public Information and Communication. The second phase rolled out in November 2014, with an emphasis on French and Arabic speakers, and led to an additional 27 women joining the Pipeline. As part of the third phase of the project begun in May 2015, ACCORD/TfP is working with the UN to identify and train more women to apply to top-level UN peacekeeping missions. ACCORD also plays roles in training UN and African Union staff in gender sensitivity to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and protection of men, women, boys and girls.

ACCORD’s Peacekeeping Unit focuses on improving the capability and professionalism of UN Civil Affairs; the development of a strategic framework on protection of civilians in UN peacekeeping operations; clarifying the peacekeeping-peacebuilding nexus; and enhancing civilian capacities. It has specifically focused on civil affairs, and has conducted research to understand the specific context and needs of Civil Affairs Officers. The Unit conducts specialized tailored in-mission conflict management training courses and supports the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) Peacekeeping Best Practices Section (PBPS) in the roll out of the Civil Affairs Skills Training Methodology. It has also developed a Civil Affairs Handbook (launched in April 2012) that serves as a reference guide for (Civil Affairs) Officers in the field.

Excerpt from the book Local Ownership in Security: Case Studies of Peacebuilding Approaches edited by Lisa Schirch with Deborah Mancini-Griffoli and published by The Alliance for Peacebuilding, The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

case study

Policy and Research Papers


These Principles were developed in order to provide guidance to those engaged in drafting, revising, or implementing laws or provisions relating to the state’s authority to withhold information on national security grounds or to punish the disclosure of such information.

They are based on international (including regional) and national law, standards, good practices, and the writings of experts.
They address national security—rather than all grounds for withholding information. All other public grounds for restricting access should at least meet these standards.

These Principles were drafted by 22 organizations and academic centres (listed in the Annex) in consultation with more than 500 experts from more than 70 countries at 14 meetings held around the world, facilitated by the Open Society Justice Initiative, and in consultation with the four special rapporteurs on freedom of expression and/or media freedom and the special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights:

 the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression,
 the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights,
 the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information,
 the Organization of American States (OAS) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, and
 the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media.


The Security Sector in Southern Africa

The Security Sector Governance (SSG) Programme of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) conducted baseline studies of the security sector in six Southern African countries, namely Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe, as well as the Southern African Development Community’s Organ on Politics, Defence and Security (SADC Organ). The results of this research are reflected in this monograph.


Local perspectives: foreign aid to the justice sector

The meaningful participation of beneficiaries in aid programmes directed to human rights reform is crucial to their success. Their views on ways to improve them deserve serious attention. In interviews with beneficiaries in four countries we were told that aid for reform has had an impact. In the justice sector (the focus of our study) foreign
aid has facilitated constitutional development and legislative reforms and helped expand civil society and transform the justice system. Aid programmes have helped introduce human rights concepts into public consciousness and public institutions in societies where such notions were once seen as subversive.
We were also told that human rights assistance can be wasteful and even do harm. Badly conceived and implemented programmes have sheltered repressive regimes from scrutiny, wasted vital resources and distorted domestic institutions. Donors sometimes promote inappropriate models and put their foreign policy interests before human rights. They can be unreliable partners, subject to quick fixes and too much attention on “exit strategies”. Success depends on many factors, not least paying more attention to local perspectives. This report sets out some of the main issues. It offers signposts that we hope will be useful to both donors and beneficiaries looking for ways
to strengthen the impact of human rights assistance.


Local Ownership and Security Sector Reform

Over the past two decades, in response to the underwhelming results of international development efforts across the Third World, arguments concerning the importance of local ownership have been gaining currency within the international development community. At its core, the discourse around ownership revolves around fundamental questions of agency: who decides, who controls, who implements, and who evaluates. The growing emphasis on local ownership, then, emerged as a critique of mainstream development practice and the broader cult of Western expertise which underpins it. As Joseph Stiglitz argued a decade ago, a vision of development in which all the answers and all the agency are seen to lie in the hands of foreigners is inherently problematic and ultimately self-defeating: ‘We have seen again and again that [local] ownership is essential for successful transformation: policies that are imposed from outside may be grudgingly accepted on a superficial basis, but will rarely be implemented as intended’. Since then, the principle of local ownership has been viewed increasingly as a precondition for effective development assistance, even if
the translation of the principle into actual practice remains an ongoing challenge.


Strengthening Prosecutorial Accountability in South Africa

As gatekeepers to the criminal justice system, prosecutors are its most powerful officials. Prosecutors’ considerable discretion – about whom to charge and for which crimes – affects the lives and fate of thousands of criminal suspects, and the safety and security of all citizens.

Yet, in South Africa, no dedicated oversight and accountability mechanism scrutinises the activities of the country’s prosecutors. Constructive oversight can assist the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to enhance both its performance and public confidence in its work.

The paper reviews a number of prosecutorial accountability mechanisms drawing on real-world examples. These mechanisms are assessed and their applicability to the South African context is critically explored.


Review of the Development Cooperation Programme between the South African Police Service and the Swedish National Police Board

This is a review of the development co-operation programme between the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Swedish National Police Board that has been financed by Sida – the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency. The programme has been in operation since late 1999 and the current agreement covers the period 31 August 2002 to 31 December 2005. It purpose is twofold: First to give a clear picture of what has been achieved in the programme up to date in relation to plans, with an emphasis on the period after the first review of October 2001. Secondly, in the light of the principles of transformation for development cooperation in the new country strategy for 2004–2008, the review should provide a basis for an assessment of whether the cooperation should continue in a third phase and in such a case, make recommendations for the areas most suitable for cooperation.


Cattle Rustling and Insecurity in Africa: A Comparative Perspective

Cattle rustling is on the rise in various African countries, with the associated number of deaths, both amongst cattle rustlers, security forces and affected populations reaching problematic proportions. Yet, there is limited policy-oriented research on this matter ranging the security-development continuum. This ISSAT brief, developed as part of the mandate Reinforcing African Union SSR Unit support to national SSR processes draws on existing literature, and provides an overview of cattle rustling in Madagascar, Lesotho, South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya. A brief contextualisation is provided for each country, before outlining the security measures implemented to tackle the challenge, and deriving recommendations.

For full access to the paper, Cattle Rustling and Insecurity in Africa: A Comparative Perspective, kindly follow the link. 


Defence White Papers in the Americas

In preparation for the October 2000 Defense Ministerial of the Americas (DMA) in Manaus Brazil and at the request of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) studied the global trend toward the creation of Defense White Papers. The study aimed to understand the nature of these documents in order to prepare the U.S. delegation to discuss the tendency in Latin America and the Caribbean during the DMA. The INSS study team found no agreement about what constitutes a 'white paper' other than each is a consensus statement on a topic. The team examined 15 defense documents worldwide and interviewed participants in the development process and independent analysts. The results suggest that the formative, often difficult, process through which governments must move to solidify their approach to national security defense policy, and the structure to implement it and build consensus for it is the essential part of a 'white paper,' providing a constructive experience that benefits the country. Governments tended not to want a template for this process, although at the working level there is some interest in the experience of other states. Defense White Papers become highly stylized nationalistic documents that reflect a state's unique domestic circumstances and international geopolitical situation. The attached chart provides an overview comparison of the Defense White Paper processes of Canada, the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and South Africa. Past efforts by U.S. agencies to design templates have failed.



Failing to Prosecute? Assessing the State of the National Prosecuting Authority in South Africa

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is pivotal not only in the criminal justice system, but also in the proper functioning of South Africa’s democracy. This monograph focuses on the independence, accountability and performance of the NPA in relation to its core function of prosecution. The monograph finds that the prosecutorial decision to decline to prosecute is both specifically and systematically exercised to such an extent that proportionally fewer cases are placed on the court roll each year and fewer still are brought to trial. The best indication of this is that the number of verdicts and the number of persons sentenced to prison show a general decline. It concludes that this tendency to decline to prosecute is currently the central malaise affecting the NPA.


Other Documents

Police Reform in South Africa

This presentation was delivered at the September 2013 Workshop on Police Reform and Development held in Tripoli by the Libyan Ministry of Interior and UNSMIL.

This briefing covers the history of the development of the police force from Apartheid until present; post-Apartheid dillemma's and the new strategic agenda as well as current police reform processes, including the creation of new accountability structures.

Also available in Arabic.

Other Document

Police Reform: Lessons from donor programming on accountability, demilitarization and representativeness of police institutions

In a Security Sector Reform (SSR) context, police reform aims to transform the values, culture, policies and practices of police organizations so that police can perform their duties with respect human rights and the Rule of Law. Given the police’s direct interaction with the community and the powers typically conferred to them, it is vital to ensure that police officers adhere to high standards of professionalism and accountability in their work. A lack of effective democratic governance and accountability mechanisms over the police forces can have triggering effects on social unrest.
The wide protests across the US and Europe against excessive police use of force focused popular attention on running debates over policing and reform. The COVID-19 pandemic has sharpened this focus further. As State of Emergency measures have been a critical part of the global response to the pandemic, the discretionary powers granted to law enforcement institutions to prevent public gatherings have enabled to abusive behaviours in certain cases.

The wide protests across the US and Europe against excessive police use of force focused popular attention on running debates over policing and reform. The COVID-19 pandemic has sharpened this focus further. As State of Emergency measures have been a critical part of the global response to the pandemic, the discretionary powers granted to law enforcement institutions to prevent public gatherings have enabled to abusive behaviours in certain cases.

For more resources on Police Reform, visit out dedicated Thematic in Practice Page on Police Reform

Other Document