Policy Forum on Inter-Linkages of Security Sector Reform (SSR) and the Protection of Civilians (POC) in Africa

One vital aspect of the Protection of Civilians (PoC) relates to the establishment of a protective environment. This includes ensuring that national institutions have the capacity to protect civilians by enhancing security and the rule of law, in accordance with basic human rights law. On the other hand, one of the goals of Security Sector Reform (SSR) is to build security institutions that are able to sustainably and consistently protect civilians from physical violence on the basis of non-discrimination, full respect for human rights and the rule of law. From the above, it is quite clear that PoC and SSR are intrinsically interlinked because SSR is a key way of protecting civilians. Yet, despite the fact that both PoC and SSR agendas aim to strengthen the capacity of national institutions to deliver on their responsibilities to enhance security and the rule of law, there remains a gap between the PoC and SSR communities and a consequent dearth of research, lessons learned and guidance on the linkages between these two policy and programming agendas. To fill this gap, the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in collaboration with the Government of Australia and the Security Sector Reform Unit of the United Nations organised a two-day Expert-Level Seminar on Regional Perspectives and Experiences on Security Sector Reform and Protection of Civilians in Ghana from 12 to 13 December 2012. The event was a build-up to previous work and discussions, including the event on “Protection of Civilians in Peacekeeping Operations: Capacity-building and Transitions” held in New York on 13 June 2012. The expert-level seminar focused on identifying experiences from Africa, in national and regional terms, to facilitate and enrich the development of the inter-linkages between the PoC and SSR concepts with a focus on strengthening the long-term capacity and political will of national authorities to fulfil their responsibility to protect civilians. As a follow-up to the outcomes of the expert-level seminar, a Policy Level Forum on Inter-Linkages of Security Sector Reform and Protection of Civilians in Africa was organized at the Busua Beach Resort, Ghana from 26 to 27 August 2013. The policy forum brought together policy and decision-makers from relevant African Member States, regional and multi-lateral organizations and civil society. The objective of the forum was to elevate to the policy level the discussions on the inter-linkages between PoC and SSR, with a view to identifying the framework for a coherent agenda on the nexus. This is to enhance the prospects for peacekeeping and peacebuilding more broadly. Towards this objective, the policy forum focused particularly on strengthening the long-term capacity and political will of national authorities to fulfil their responsibility to protect civilians.