[Dateline: Addis Ababa | Author: DPKO/OROLSI]
From 23 to 25 March, the African Union (AU) Commission and the UN Secretariat, represented by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), jointly convened the African Regional Workshop on Security Sector Reform (SSR) at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Participants in this event included representatives from the African regional economic communities, SSR experts from AU and UN missions in Burundi, Liberia and southern Sudan as well as representatives from the SSR Team and Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) Section of the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions (ORoLSI).
In his opening remarks, the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra, noted that "despite the definite advances achieved in Africa in the area of peace and security … challenges remain in the form of continued conflicts, a relapse into conflict even after peace has been brokered, and weak states unable to secure either their territory or their citizenry."
He observed that a number of Member States are not able to fulfil their security obligations to their own citizens; in fact, in some contexts, the security forces have become a threat to their citizens. It is for these reasons that "some African Member States clearly need to reform their security sectors."
Accordingly, the Commissioner recalled and welcomed the January 2008 decision of the Assembly of the AU, which "encourages the Commission to develop a comprehensive AU Policy Framework on Security Sector Reform, within the context of the Policy Framework on Post-conflict Reconstruction and Development adopted by the Executive Council in Banjul in June 2006."
Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions in DPKO, Mr. Dmitry Titov, delivered a keynote address in which he noted that the UN’s effective engagement in SSR depends on the capacities of our regional partners to provide significant support and leadership in this area. While Chapter VIII of the UN Charter states that the UN Security Council has primary responsibility for international peace and security, the AU is the main custodian of peace and security on the continent.
Mr. Titov stressed that the UN stands ready to provide support to the AU in the development of an SSR Policy Framework and in building its institutional capacity to deliver on such a framework.
The two Organizations agreed to embark on a mutually beneficial partnership in the area of SSR. On this basis, working-level colleagues of the AU Commission and ORoLSI’s SSR Team held a working session focused on the content and roadmap for the AU’s emerging SSR policy and identified a number of joint activities which will form the basis of a long-term strategic partnership between the AU and the UN in the area of SSR.
These include joint SSR needs assessments, human resource development in AU Headquarters and the field, SSR training and awareness-raising, joint policy development and other strategic activities.