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UNOG-DCAF Seventh Seminar

The United Nations Office at Geneva and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) jointly host an annual seminar. This collaboration is an example of how UNOG forms partnerships with external academic and research experts to draw and build on the available expertise.






Seventh Joint UNOG-DCAF Seminar

Security Sector Reform in Africa:
The role and contribution of the United Nations
Monday, 14 December 2009


Background

The seventh in a series of joint annual events, this panel discussion follows previous debates hosted by the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) on different aspects of security sector governance. These meetings have served to raise awareness of the complexities and challenges before the international community in this area and have produced practical proposals to inform and guide future efforts. The event brought together representatives of Governments, the United Nations family, think tanks and academia.

This year’s edition, entitled “Security Sector in Africa: the role and contribution of the United Nations” explored ways in which various African stakeholders, the United Nations and other concerned actors can work together to support common peace, security and development goals through effective security sector reform. Given the presence in Geneva of a multitude of actors with strong capacity and in-depth expertise in this field, it provided a timely opportunity to discuss a number of critical issues.

Noting that half of the United Nations current peacekeeping operations and three-quarters of its military, police and civilian personnel were deployed in Africa, the Director-General underscored the importance of undertaking security sector reform as an integral part of wider policies aimed at preventing the eruption or recurrence of conflicts. One of the major challenges would include striking the right balance between national ownership and United Nations support.

The keynote speaker, Mr. Dmitry Titov, Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, emphasized that Africa, like other parts of the world, had witnessed a shift in focus from regime security to a broader and more comprehensive security agenda. Mr. Titov explained that a professional security sector was essential not only for sustainable development but also as a vital component of post-conflict reconstruction. Security sector reform could also play a critical role in redefining relations between the security apparatus and the population. Inversely, effective security sector reform was not possible without reforming the core governance institutions. Noting that coordination in this field needed to improve, Mr. Titov encouraged the sharing of best practices among concerned partners.
Panelists concurred on the importance of developing tools to measure the genuine impact of actions taken to promote security sector reform and agreed that any assistance to African countries would require a long-term commitment on the part of international and regional organizations as well as donor countries. While limited capacity in African countries sometimes restricted the extent of reform possible, there was in fact considerable expertise available on the continent. The panelists all highlighted national ownership and inclusive processes as determinants of success in reforming security institutions.


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