Framework for cooperative security in a region in transition challenges and prospects


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Framework for cooperative security in a region in transition challenges and prospects

  1. 1. Framework for Cooperative Security in a Region in Transition: Challenges and Prospects1 By J. ’Kayode Fayemi2IntroductionThe concept of cooperative security is not new in international politics. From itsorigins in the 1815 Concert of Europe, to the end of the Cold War when it assumedwider popularity, cooperative security has become almost a one size, fits all responseto the problems of insecurity and instability in the world. Yet cooperative securityremains essentially a ‘contested concept’ meaning different things to different people– from the traditional meaning of collective security and collective defence with thenation state as the primary unit of analysis to the more recent and broader meanings ofindividual security (human security) and stability promotion in a new world order.Since the end of the cold war, the desirability of shifting from a state- and elitefocused view of security to one that places individuals at the centre of the securityequation has gained increasing acceptance in Africa, and indeed in many parts of theworld. While protecting the state and its citizens from external aggression remains aconsideration, the most serious threats facing countries on the African continent at thebeginning of the 21st century tend to be those that either derive from internal causes orare trans-national and collective in nature. To many in Africa, a safe and secureenvironment is a necessary condition for sustainable, poverty-reducing development.This broader conception that articulates security in a manner that the individual, thegroup as well as the state may relate to its fundamental objectives of promoting andensuring the right to life and livelihood in an uncertain world underscores theimportance of cooperative security arrangement in Africa. Yet, given the popularity of1 Being notes prepared for presentation at the African Centre for Strategic Studies’ Southern AfricaSub-regional Seminar in Maputo, Mozambique on September 26, 2002. Please do not quote without theauthor’s permission.2 Executive Director, Centre for Democracy & Development (Lagos & London) 1
  2. 2. the trend in international security, cooperative security deserves a more nuancedanalysis, one that brings out regional dimensions and common characteristics in orderfor it to be relevant to the security concerns of the African continent.This presentation attempts to develop a framework for cooperative security in Africa,looking at the record of Africa in the post cold war decade, the context of regionalcooperation, the challenges to regional security cooperation, the example ofcooperative security in West Africa and ending with some recommendations forcooperative security in Africa.Context of Regional Security Cooperation in the late 1980sWhilst regionalism is not new in Africa, a number of factors seem to have promotedthe virtues of regionalism amongst African leaders and peoples in the late 1980s andearly 1990s. The peculiar context of the 1990s definitely redefined the nature of bothpolitics and conflict. Triggered by both external and internal factors, the crisis ofhegemony and legitimacy of the average African state found refuge in the attempt toseek a common response to the problems at home. • Shifts in global and geo-political power relations, in particular the end of the cold war and the retraction of the imperial security umbrella, allowed former client regimes to be challenged in ways unimaginable in the past; • The retreat of the superpowers placed greater prominence on the role of and competition between regional powers in conflict and conflict management; • Conflict parties (both governments and rebel groups) previously supported by superpowers had to turn to new sources of funding, including the exploitation of natural resources and criminal activity (drugs, etc) making them potentially less amenable to external pressure; • New particularistic forms of political consciousness and identity, often structured around religion and ethnicity, replaced the extant ‘universalistic’ debates between ‘capitalism’ and ‘socialism’ that had underpinned the Cold 2
  3. 3. War, reinforcing the erosion of a sense of common citizenship fostered by state contraction and popular disillusionment with politics; • Erosion of the institutional capacity of the average African state, the most profound aspect of which was the decomposition of the security apparatuses, affecting the ability of the state to ensure the security of the state as well as that of the community. • African states were subjected to multiple sources of pressure that eroded their sovereignty: from above, the cooption of crucial areas of policy initiative by the IFIs and a variety of donor agencies: from below – the activation of civil society and the increasing power and resources controlled by the non- governmental sector • Loss of centrality of the state as a consequence of contracting resources and capacity to deliver essential services, with various implications for its ability to act as the centre of social cohesion as well as for perceptions of citizenship; • State militarism, which became the progenitor of the psychology of militarism, loss of a culture of dialogue, implanting a culture of violence, and discouraging peaceful conflict-resolution and process of change. • The increasing availability and privatisation of the instruments of violence, transforming the military balance between state and society. Massive retrenchment and growing surplus of military assets globally, simultaneously with a breakdown in supply-side and demand side controls on global arms markets and (locally) recycling of decommissioned weaponry as most of the wars of the 1980s wound down. • New forms of violent national and trans-national crime.An African Balance Sheet in the 1990s Decade 3
  4. 4. • Democratic transition in Africa has produced a medley of results ranging from consolidating democracies (South Africa, Botswana, Mauritius, Ghana, Senegal, Mali, Mozambique), a variety of ‘semi’, ‘liberal’, ‘virtual’ and ‘lapsing’ democracies (Kenya, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Malawi), authoritarian and/or militarised states (Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Sudan,) and conflict torn societies and post conflict societies (Liberia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Rwanda, Burundi and Sierra Leone).• Values and norms of governance have become more prevalent in Africa• While the economic situation remains fragile, overall economic performance in Africa has actually improved marginally, relative to the 1980s• Regionalism has taken much firmer root, crowned recently by the launch of the African Union and introduction of NEPAD• Regional and sub-regional conflict management mechanisms put in place as Africans strive to develop an autonomous capacity to handle their conflicts in spite of the inherent challenges of regionalism (West Africa is a pioneer in the field);• In spite of some form of international assistance, Africans are increasingly at the centre of the emerging geo-political realities – with ACRI, RECAMP and other supporting initiatives acting as back up – ANAD merger with ECOWAS on the security field is an indication of the need to harmonise often confusing and duplicating mechanisms; the sense of an Anglo-French rivalry in West Africa seems to be disappearing; equally the prevalent perception of a Franco- Nigerian rivalry is beginning to disappear although there are still governments and actors keen to promote these ‘divisions’. The evidence both in trade and security terms seem to suggest otherwise but the perception of regional hegemony still persists with Nigeria and South Africa often put in the ‘hegemon’ box.• There is now a widespread acceptance of the need to re-conceptualise ‘security’ in a more responsive direction with a move away from the traditional emphasis on national/state security to a focus on ‘human security’, with an expansion, concomitantly in the scope of the concept from its minimalist meaning (as in physical security) to include access to the means of life, the provision of essential goods, a clean and sustainable environment, as well as to human rights and democratic freedoms. A key aspect of this is the 4
  5. 5. increasing linkage drawn between security and development, on the one hand rooting insecurity in conditions of underdevelopment, and on the other, the recognition that security is an essential precondition and component of development – as well as a growing tendency to see defence and security as both a public policy and a governance issue (thus broadening the range of constituencies that can participate legitimately in this formally highly restricted arena.Challenges of Regional Cooperative Security• Legacy of Westphalian sovereignty• Regionalism without common values• Notions of regional hegemony• Regionalism as leaderism in which regional integration is only happening at the level of leaders without permeating the consciousness of the people;• Regionalism as formalism in which a wide array of institutions have been created with little or no capacity to manage them• Regionalism as an externally driven, not a people driven projectInstitutionalising Regional Cooperative Security: The West African exampleIt can be reasonably argued that ECOWAS in West Africa represents the bestexample in Africa of a process of institutionalising cooperative security on thecontinent. Established in 1975 to promote cooperation and development in all fieldsof economic activities among its 16 member states, ECOWAS entered intocooperative security from a primarily regional economic integration objective in 1990when it went into Liberia to restore peace. Although a Mutual Assistance in DefenceProtocol was signed in 1981, ECOWAS’ first foray into the collective security arenain 1990 was ad-hoc and capricious. Indeed, it is fair to state that the experiencegarnered in the first peacekeeping mission launched in Liberia in has enabledECOWAS to pursue an institutional framework for cooperative security following thebitter lessons that accompanied a mission that was largely driven through the goodwilland commitment of a regional hegemon, Nigeria. The lack of clarity over mandate,political acceptance, composition, military capability and accountability of the 5
  6. 6. mission affected what was otherwise a well-intentioned regional project with little orno backing from the international community.It is however a tribute to ECOWAS leaders that they drew strongly on the lessons ofLiberia and Sierra Leone and decided to institutionalise a conflict mechanism in thebroader scheme of things within the regional economic community. A raft ofagreements - The ECOWAS Revised treaty of 1993, the Protocol relating to theMechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping andSecurity approved in 1999 and the Supplementary Protocol on Democracy & GoodGovernance endorsed by the Heads of State in December 2002 all demonstrate thefact that a great deal of local thinking is propelling the institutionalisation of acollective security architecture in West Africa with assigned roles for governmentsand civil society.In spite of the changes that have occurred and the structures put in place, the productis still a long way away from where it should be. If ECOWAS declarations of intentare indeed turned into substance as the Heads of Government and the ExecutiveSecretariat are determined to achieve, it is possible for cooperative security to take amuch firmer root in West Africa in time to come. In terms of institutions, theMechanism established several institutions, organs and strategies, all with definedresponsibilities and aims that address peace and security in the sub-region. The mostcritical institutions are:• The Mediation and Security Council – The Council operates at the level of heads of state and government, ministers and ambassadors, charged with the responsibilities of taking decisions that impact on peace and security, including authorising deployment of missions;• The Defence and Security Commission – Made up of Defence chiefs and security officials charged with the responsibilities of dealing with the technicalities of military intervention;• ECOMOG, the erstwhile ad-hoc force now formally established as a multi- purpose stand-by force ready for immediate deployment. ECOMOG is described as multi-purpose in the sense that it can assume one of several functions of observation, monitoring and peacekeeping. More significantly, it can be deployed 6
  7. 7. for humanitarian intervention or the enforcement of sanctions. It can also undertake policing activities in order to control fraud and/or organised crime;• An early warning system, in the form of a regional observation network has been created. Established within the secretariat and also in four zones within the Community, the observation centres are charged with collecting data on states ranging across economic, political, security and social sectors to be analysed with a view to detecting early warning signals that may signify potential conflicts which could then inform region-wide conflict prevention strategies;• A Council of Elders is also proposed as a mechanism for injecting traditional conflict resolution mechanism to assume a role in mediation, conciliation and negotiation. This is made up of 32 eminent persons drawn from within and outside the region with a mandate for preventive diplomacy and it is convened as and when required by the Executive Secretariat.As Figure 1 below shows, the Executive Secretariat plays a central role in ensuringthat the Conflict Mechanism functions adequately. As stated above, the ExecutiveSecretary has the responsibility to deploy the Council of Elders in any given situation.More importantly, the newly created office of Political Affairs, Defence andSecurity(PADS) headed by a Deputy Executive Secretary is primarily charged withthe implementation of the mechanism, supervision of the Early warning operationsand the zonal observation centres, servicing of the Defence and Security Commissionand policy formulation and implementation of all peacekeeping and humanitarianoperations.The Mechanism and its supplementary protocol on Democracy and Good Governancealso take a broader view of security, stressing the importance of human security anddemocratic governance in the security sector, including roles for civil society. TheProtocol also covers institutional capacity building in the community in order toprovide humanitarian assistance in conflict or disaster area and provides a frameworkfor action by the community in the critical area of peace-building.Whilst the ECOWAS mechanism offers a good approach to designing a frameworkfor cooperative security, it also remains work in progress. Indeed, the Communityalso demonstrates commitment to revising and improving the document based on new 7
  8. 8. information. For example, it is now considering approaches to involving theECOWAS Parliament in the implementation of the Mechanism and theSupplementary Protocol on Good Governance and Democracy through the revision ofthe Protocol that established the Parliament. In the protocol establishing theParliament, it is essentially a forum, composed of delegations from nationalparliaments, whose ‘opinion may be sought on matters concerning the Community’on a range of areas prior to their adoption by the Council’ with little or no supra-national legislative powers. This is clearly seen as a system that suffers from a ‘hugedose of democratic deficit’ since parliamentarians are the only direct representativesof the citizens in the Community. Yet, true as this is, the history of trans-nationallegislatures the world over is one of evolution, usually from delegations from nationalparliaments to directly elected representation. It is also the case that the powers oftrans-national parliaments gradually evolve from being largely consultativeassemblies to genuine decision-making legislatures, both in scope and in powers.Circumstances dictate these inevitable transitions and the performance of theparliament to date gives the impression that its powers will certainly grow inconsonance with the quality of representation in the Parliament.Second, there are problems of hegemonic regionalism, leaderism, formalism anddonor driven institutionalisation. Many of the institutions created by the Mechanismfor Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security owetheir survival not to the commitment of member states in terms of their financialcontribution, but to the generosity of the European Union, the United States and anumber of Nordic countries. This obviously raises a fundamental question ofaccountability and strategic interests especially when those interests conflict. Variousattempts are however being made to address this problem, but none to date has provedto be successful in getting states to meet their assessed contributions to theCommunity, leaving the wealthiest and most populous State to underwrite theexpenses of the organisation, with accusations of domination in its wake.A third, perhaps most critical problem with the ECOWAS framework is that of thelack of agreement on a common understanding on security and stability. Although theprotocols referred to above were signed with fanfare by most of the Heads of 8
  9. 9. government and their representatives, nation-building peculiarities make it difficultfor member states to exhibit a shared understanding of a common future.In spite of the progress described above, a sense of disillusionment is still widespreadin West Africa with the current state of regional security cooperation. Indeed, theunfortunate occurrence in Cote d’Ivoire seems to be promoting the view in somecircles that despotic peace may be better than democratic freedom. Coupled with theimpression that the gains of the last decade is being eroded in the post 9/11 period, itis important for the United States and other international actors in Africa to be clearabout the message that is being promoted. It would be sad if the view were to gainwidespread acceptance that despotic peace is better than problematic democraticfreedom. The fact that the ECOWAS has not been quick off the mark in responding tothe Ivorien crisis underscores the need for a framework that goes beyond the creationof institutions and structures, but one that also possesses the capacity and thecredibility to act on the side of humanitarian intervention and restoration of order.This seminar is thus important as it offers the United States the opportunity to be clearabout its strategic interests whilst also offering the space to listen to the Africancounterparts address questions of ownership and accountability of the agenda.Towards a Framework for Regional Security Cooperation: RecommendationsAlthough what the West African experience demonstrates is that cooperative securityis possible, even among states that lack common values, the future success ofcooperative security depends not only on spreading values that promote humansecurity, but also on developmental regionalism that intensifies economic ties even inthe quest to foster a sense of a ‘security community’ that serves the interest of all itsmembers. The closer the ties among states and their citizens in the socio-economicspheres, the more they will find ways to further their security cooperatively.Hence, given the context of regionalism described above and the challenges tocooperative security in Africa, a number of factors are, in my own view, central to thesuccess or otherwise of the process of entrenching cooperative security in any 9
  10. 10. regional bloc, if we are to move beyond the formalism of the moment. They include,but are not necessarily limited to the following key elements:• Understanding the nature of the post-colonial state and the nation-building prospects in Africa;• Subscription to and institutionalisation of core regional values and norms;• Focusing on deepening democratic and open governance and preventing violent conflicts through political processes;• Promoting long term conditions for security and development by using human security as a bedrock for peace;• Developing an integrated peacebuilding approach to human security – through the promotion of governmental and non-governmental approaches and treating peacekeeping, peacemaking and post-conflict transformation in a continuum;• Entrenching democratic governance of the security sector by establishing a clear role definition for security services whilst enhancing professionalism of the sector;• Building the capacity of African institutions for early warning, as well as enhancing their capacity to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts;• Strengthening developmental regionalism as a means of addressing the negative aspects of globalisation;• Establishing the parameters of genuine continental and global partnership – including role clarification between sub-regional bodies, African Union, United Nations etc.Whilst it is difficult to be prescriptive about the framework for security cooperation inAfrica, it is gratifying to note that most of what I have stated here are fully reflectedas the key responsibilities of the new African Union Peace and Security Councilapproved at the African Union Summit in Durban, especially in relation to NEPADand in the sub-regional mechanisms with which I am most familiar, ECOWAS.The challenge is one of achieving and promoting the values of ownership,participation, open and transparency accountability, fundamental freedoms and therule of law and implementation of agreed principles, rather than structures. Theoverriding importance of responsible politics and responsive leadership in buildingregional security cooperation is evident from the above. Until we get both, the best 10
  11. 11. that can be hoped for remains hegemonic regionalism, which may keep the peace, buthardly promotes fundamental values of ownership. 11