Tuesday, 23 October 2012

My report on the ISSAT/DCAF resource library website

My report is now also to be found on the ISSAT/DCAF resource library website. I am very happy about this as the study may reach a broader audience.

I did an internship at DCAF in 2010. DCAF is an international foundation established in 2000 on the initiative of the Swiss Confederation, as the 'Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces'. DCAF contributes to enhancing security sector governance (SSG) through security sector reform (SSR). The Centre works to support effective, efficient security sectors which are accountable to the state and its citizens. DCAF's work is underpinned by the acknowledgement that security, development and the rule of law are essential preconditions for sustainable peace.
DCAF’s International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT) provides practical support to the international community in its efforts to improve security and justice, primarily in conflict-affected and fragile states. It does this by working with a group of member states and institutions to develop and promote good security and justice reform practices and principles, and by helping its members to build their capacity to support national and regional security and justice reform processes.

For those who want to know more about SSR, DCAF provides a number of backgrounders on different subjects connected to reforms of the security and justice sector. There are also a number of other publications available for free on their website. 

Also, ISSAT provides an introductory course on SSR in co-operation with UNITAR. It is an online course free of charge. 

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Willing and Able? Challenges to Security Sector Reform in Weak Post-war States - Insights from the Central African Republic.

My report is finally printed and can be found here.. I provide you with the summary below.

Security sector reform (SSR) is an integral part of the international community’s efforts to build peace and enhance security in weak post-war states. It has, however, proven difficult to undertake SSR in such contexts. A number of factors constitute a challenge to create security forces that are able to provide
security to the population.

Based on previous research, this report highlights some of the challenges to SSR in weak post-war states. Through an analysis of the SSR process in the Central African Republic, this study shows that informal power structures, a volatile security situation and failure to understand how SSR is influenced by other political processes, negatively impact on the prospect for successful implementation of reforms. Furthermore, this study demonstrates that weak capacity and lack of political will on behalf of the national government, is a challenge to local ownership and sustainable reforms. Despite a holistic approach to reforms aiming to improve both the capacity of the security forces and to increase democratic control of the security institutions, insufficient international engagement, scarce resources, lack of strategic direction and inadequate donor coordination have limited the prospect for implementation of reforms.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Raiding Sovereignty in Central African Borderlands by Louisa Nicolaysen Lombard

This dissertation just came out so I haven't had time to read it properly but, given the author’s experience and field work in the CAR and elsewhere I am convinced that it can't be any less that brilliant. Please have a look at Raiding Sovereignty in Central African Borderlands

To be back but somewhere else

Well, to be honest I do think that, given the limitations and restrictions, my thesis is quite boring and does not really give any added value. However, very soon a report is to be published. I had the opportunity to use the findings from my field research in this report, which feels good. As it will be available for free I will put the link here in due time. As for now, I'll just post a short summary of the report (quoting the summary in the report) and as soon as it is on the website I’ll let you know. So here it goes:

“Security sector reform (SSR) is an integral part of the international community’s efforts to build peace and enhance security in weak post-war states. It has, however, proven difficult to undertake SSR in such contexts. A number of factors constitute a challenge to create security forces that are able to provide security to the population.  

Based on previous research, this report highlights some of the challenges to SSR in weak post-war states. Through an analysis of the SSR process in the Central African Republic, this study shows that informal power structures, a volatile security situation and failure to understand how SSR is influenced by other political processes, negatively impact on the prospect for successful implementation of reforms. Furthermore, this study demonstrates that weak capacity and lack of political will on behalf of the national government, is a challenge to local ownership and sustainable reforms. Despite a holistic approach to reforms aiming to improve both the capacity of the security forces and to increase democratic control of the security institutions, insufficient international engagement, scarce resources, lack of strategic direction and inadequate donor coordination have limited the prospect for implementation of reforms.”

Well, not very surprising or new but I assure you that some of the details in the actual report are quite interesting. Read it!

As for me, we’ll see. Currently I am in Brussels and only time will tell where I go next. Insh’allah and I post again soon. 

Monday, 28 May 2012

Final seminars and the end of an era

I have not posted any updates on the work with the thesis in a very long time. Tomorrow I will defend it at the final seminars and as soon as that has been done I will make the necessary adjustments and post some kind of summary of the findings here.

It feels very strange that this process now is coming to an end. I have lived with this thesis for more than a year. I started to plan the field study during Christmas, one and a half years ago and soon I will have the final product in my hand. It will be  a relief but also sort of sad to let go of it. The process has been so rewarding, in so many ways.

Times goes by so fast. It is a very odd feeling to read it now when its almost finalised. The name of the final product is Security Sector Reform in Weak Post-War States - Challenges to Implementation: Insights from the Central African Republic.

I will share the findings with those interested here shortly.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Witchcraft in the CAR

A very interesting episode on witchcraft laws in the CAR. May enhance the understanding of the problems with not only corruption of the judiciary  but also how  "lynch law" is a threat to rule of law, fair trials and how rumors often are enough evidence to convict prisoners, if they are convicted at all.

Friday, 4 May 2012

No vision but a vicious circle of poverty, corruption and lack of investment

Six weeks ago two people I got to know in Bangui, one of them quite well, were imprisoned without charge after discovering a suspected Lord’s Resistance Army massacre in the area where they operate a safari business. Although I heard about this at a very early stage it is only now that Swedish and British press have paid some attention to these unfortunate events.
In brief, David, who works for the safari company found a number of mutilated dead bodies while working in the area. He contacted his boss, Erik, and got in touch with the authorities who came to investigate the crime scene. Unfortunately there was not much of an investigation but the soldiers who were meant to conduct the investigation seemed scared and just took some pictures of the bodies with their mobile phones. Both Erik and David voluntarily went to Bangui to answer some questions but were instead imprisoned without charges together with ten of their Central African employees

That was six weeks ago and still no charges have been presented.
They are both alright and treated well, but obviously the situation is quite frustrationg, for them and their families. For some more information in Swedish have a look at these three websites and for some first-hand information have a look at Erik’s wife’s blog 
There are also some articles in English and in French
According to Central African law, a person cannot be kept in custody this long without charges. It is unclear why these men are locked up. One possible explanation is greed, as poorly paid employees are in urgent need for additional cash, civil servants at all levels within the administration are tempted to do “additional business” due to the bad economic situation of the country.
The economy of the CAR is at a terrible state, the country is dependent on foreign aid and is ranked the second last business friendly country in the world (2011), according to the World bank Group. The lower the ranking on the “ease of doing business index” means the less conducive is the regulatory environment to the starting and operation of a local firm. Only Chad is ranked lower.
In Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index which score countries on how corrupt their public sectors are perceived the CAR scores 2.2 together with Congo-Brazzaville, Guinea-Bissau, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Laos, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Paraguay. The less corrupt country New Zealand scores 9.5 out of 10 and in the bottom of the list you find Somalia and North Korea with score 1. These indexes obviously must be red with some caution but they do say a fair bit about the situation in the country when it comes to corruption and the prospects for investment (both foreign and domestic).
My experience from the CAR is that yes, it is very corrupt indeed and yes, it seems to be a real hustle to open a business and operate it, but some people do which is the only way to create jobs and get the economy going. The problem is that corruption is an integral part of the system. It is a way for people to survive and get through due to extremely low salaries and months of salary arrears, at the same time it is the wide spread corruption that has created such conditions in the first place which gives those in power an opportunity to benefit from their positions. The CAR is a country with fertile land and good conditions for developing the agricultural sector; it is not cursed by draughts as many countries in the Sahel region for example. Furthermore there are diamonds, timber, gold and uranium and other minerals. Although the CAR has been ravaged by violent conflict for a long time it is not a war torn state like many others; there was never a state there to start with, not even when it was a part of French Equatorial Africa before independence. However, the potentials for the CAR are great, it could be an African Switzerland but there is very little to build on.

Not many foreigners are tempted to invest in a country with such high levels of corruption, bad infrastructure and weak rule of law. Furthermore the whole region is politically unstable with huge security problems. In addition some foreign companies are only interested in profiting from the resources in the country without actually contributing to the economic development. I had some interesting encounters with foreign investors during my stay in Bangui. In an earlier post I wrote about when I had drinks at the president’s sister's house , who is also a depute in the general assembly. As you can read in the post a foreign company wanted to invest in the energy sector. They were willing to do so despite the unstable political situation but eventually there was no deal due to all the complications with starting a business in the country. Important to remember is that the company already was operating in Uganda, Cameroon and some other places but they eventually considered the business climate in the CAR too difficult.
On the positive side despite all the problems in the country the press is relatively free. The CAR comes just after Italy on the press freedom index by Reporters without borders and is ranked higher than many other European countries  My personal experience is that the press is relatively critical towards the government and many journalists freely speak their mind. In 2005 the media law decriminalised media offences, nevertheless journalists are imprisoned now and then. On 26 January a court in Bangui gave Ferdinand Samba, the editor of the daily Le Démocrate, a 10-month jail sentence. Mr Samba also had to pay a 1500 euro fine and the newspaper was closed down. Mr Samba was charged with defaming and insulting the finance minister and “inciting hatred” against him  After 3 months of imprisonment the President Francois Bozizé, who is related to the finance minister, granted Mr Samba a pardon on the 3 of May , on the World Press Freedom Day (!). 
This shows that there are obviously constraints on the freedom of the press in the CAR but I believe that the main problem is that people don’t have access to the journals, that they cannot read or can’t afford a radio. Only half of the country’s population over 15 can read and write.  The CAR was ranked a low human development country in 2011 , and was among the bottom ten countries on the list
So what has all this to do with the illegal imprisonment of a Swedish and a British national (and several Central Africans with them)? Well, as the Central African on-line newspaper Centrafrique-presse.com writes; the safari company employs some 250 central Africans and generates large incomes for the state and the government in forms of taxes, fees and rents for the land they use. The journalist writes that the main question for the CAR at this point in time is about development, for this domestic and foreign investment is needed. To imprison the owner and employees of a serious business that contributes to the treasury of the state can only be counterproductive and by forcing the Central African Wildlife Adventures to close down its business for no good reason what so ever, is to “fermer son premier robinet” i.e. to cut off the main source of income as this may scare away other possible investors and have a negative impact on the development partners willingness to provide aid.
This is a vicious circle of poverty and instability that generates corruption which in turn scare off investors and possible partners which then increases poverty and instability. The question of rule of law is not only about legislation but how to actually implement it and apply it, as the case with both Mr Samba and the imprisonment of Erik and David shows; the mere existance of a law does not protect you. There are some indications that Erik and David were arrested because some people saw the opportunity to get some money out of them. It is highly likely. Obviously it is very short sighted as it might diminish the income for everybody in the long term. However, it is not that strange that people try to get the most out of every opportunity when the future is so uncertain, tragically this only increase the prospect for an uncertain future, another vicious circle.
So what to do?  I believe that the most important thing is to break these vicious circles. This is a challenging task, everyone who once has been caught up in a vicious circle knows how hard it is to break the pattern. You have to want it, but you also have to have the capacity to do it. Perhaps outsiders can provide and support when it comes to capacity but no one can force someone else to want to do something. However, my experience from the CAR is that many people in Bangui were deeply unsatisfied with the current situation, some of them didn’t have the capacity to do something about it, some of them lacked the will, but I got the feeling that in most cases it was actually about something else; a feeling of despair, of being forgotten and a disbelief in the possibilities of change. Many people I spoke to said that there is no vision for the future of the country, no strong political movement that can unite people. Everyone just thinks about him/herself.
The Central African Republic needs a vision for the future.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

I comment on the Kony 2012 campaign and AU military operation

Here is a translation of my comments on the Kony 2012 campaign and the challenges to the AU military operation.

AU-led Regional Cooperation Initiative against the Lord’ Resistance Army (RCI-LRA) officially launched

On Saturday 24 March the African Union (AU) initiative against LRA was launched during a ceremony in Juba, South Sudan. I have already posted about this military operation which has the following objectives: strengthen the response capacity of the countries affected by the atrocities of the LRA, in order to create inherent capabilities; create an environment conducive to the stabilisation of the region free of LRA atrocities and inclusive of a political process within the framework of the Juba Agreement, if and when duly signed; and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the affected areas. 

The operation was authorised by the AU Peace and Security Council on the 22 November last year but it has taken some time for the Regional Task Force (RTF) to become operational. Even though the armies from the affected countries have been fighting the LRA for some time (Ugandan troops have been in the area since 2008) the AU RCI-LRA is meant to coordinate these efforts. Although the RCI-LRA is supported by the UN and the US there is no UN Security Council resolution. Last year, however, the UN Security Council requested the UN Secretary General Special Representative for Central Africa and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), Abou Moussa, to finalise a regional LRA strategy. A few days ago on March 23 representatives of the UN, African Union and the UN stabilisation mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) provided an update on the regional strategy. 

The RTF has its headquarters in Yambio, South Sudan and will be led by an Ugandan commander, Dick Prit Olum. Senior commanders from Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR) will be in charge of a contingent of 5,000 soldiers but it is not yet clear whether force commanders will be in operational command of soldiers from other nations. The initiative allows for cross border operations and is meant to improve cooperation and intelligence sharing between the state security forces active in the region as well as between those and the UN missions in South Sudan and DRC. 

The European Union (EU) has pledged 9 million euros in humanitarian aid for the affected populations. EU also financially supports the AU Special Envoy for LRA affected areas, Francisco Madeira, but has so far been reluctant to provide any support to the military operation as there are no mechanisms for accountability, no clear plan for civilian protection and there is no UN mandate for the operation. Apparently unspecified international partners have promised to support the AU military operation although the four countries, CAR, DRC, South Sudan and Uganda remain responsible for covering their costs for the operations.  

I really don’t know what the chances are to find LRA and Joseph Kony in this area the size of Sweden covered in dense forest with very few roads. There is always a risk with military operations and given the past atrocities committed by the security forces that now will participate in the operation, the prospect for civilian protection is rather dim.