West Africa and the Sahel continue to be plagued by fragility, conflict and violence. Faced with challenges ranging from the spread of Boko Haram to persisting food insecurity, forced displacement, and youth unemployment, the region needs help. In response, the international community has marshalled significant resources to support governments in fostering the essential preconditions for peace – inclusive security and sustainable development. Such tasks can devour the funds of even the most ambitious aid programmes, while the reality of budgetary constraints calls for a constant search for efficiency.
The European Union’s engagement in Security Sector Reform (SSR) is a case in point. Transforming security and justice systems in fragile states is one of the top priorities of the EU’s external action. According to its 2016 SSR framework, the EU will help partner countries put the military under civilian oversight and provide effective, legitimate and accountable security and justice services to their citizens. EU programmes will apply a comprehensive approach aimed at: (i) formulating integrated security and justice policies and setting up national coordination mechanisms; (ii) providing training and non-lethal equipment to defence and security forces; and (iii) building internal accountability mechanisms and systems for human resources planning, budgeting, and financial management.
In 2017, €2.5 billion in Official Development Assistance (ODA) managed by the European Commission was allocated to governance and civil society, including SSR. There are ongoing or planned rule-of-law, security and justice programmes in more than 40 countries worldwide. In West Africa, EU institutions have channeled over €100 million to finance the nascent 5,000-strong G5 Sahel Joint Force, while assistance for stabilisation in the region has reached €400 million.
The EU has also launched three Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions. In Mali and Niger, capacity-building missions (EUCAP) provide technical assistance, training and equipment for internal security forces to fight against terrorism, organised crime and irregular migration. The EU Training Mission in Mali (EUTM) has been helping the government to restructure eight army battalions.6 France has deployed 4,000 soldiers for Operation Barkhane in Mali, Niger, and Chad, an endeavour that costs about €600 million per year. Meanwhile, development funding to improve security outcomes by tackling the root causes of conflict has also risen. The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa allocated almost €1 billion to Lake Chad and the Sahel, with projects in Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal supporting youth employment, private sector development, social protection, health and education.
Given the scale of the investment, the following questions arise: what is the value for money of each additional euro spent on strengthening West Africa’s armies and police? How can SSR assistance lead to effective and sustainable reforms, and ultimately contribute to reduce fragility, conflict and violence?
This Brief seeks to answer these questions by analysing the introduction and implementation of the security sector public expenditure review (PER), a public sector governance instrument that assesses the economy, effectiveness and efficiency of governments’ security and defence allocations, including SSR programmes. Developed by the World Bank in partnership with the United Nations, this data-driven assessment tool can facilitate a policy dialogue between civilian administrators, soldiers, and diplomats on the affordability of armies and police, and can therefore maximise the impact of security assistance programmes. Following an overview of security expenditures in West Africa, the Brief outlines the genesis of security sector PERs and highlights lessons learned from implementation in Liberia, Mali and Niger. The conclusion then offers recommendations on how PERs can be applied by the EU to ensure affordability and national ownership of defence and security assistance programmes.
For full access to the policy brief, Can Peace Become Affordable? Lessons from Security Sector Expenditure Reviews in West Africa, kindly follow the link.