Nairobi meeting on Security Architecture in the Horn of Africa

On 17-19 March 2006, Pugwash Meeting no. 315 was held in Nairobi, Kenya.

Security Architecture in the Horn of Africa

Workshop Report by Meghan Madden

Pugwash held its first workshop on security in the Horn of Africa on 18-19 March, 2006 in Nairobi, Kenya.  This event was co-sponsored by the Africa Peace Forum and hosted African participants from Egypt, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Tanzania, Eritrea, and Kenya. 

            The Horn of Africa region consists of seven states: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda.  Many of these states face similar patterns of conflict, ranging from internal insurgency to cross border disputes.  Common problems include poor governance, lack of accountability, extreme poverty, control of natural resources, small arms trade, refugees and internally displaces persons (IDPs), politics of exclusion, and ethnic rivalries.  Conflicts in this region often go beyond their own borders and adversely affect neighboring states.  Because of this interrelated nature it is necessary to look at the Horn as a whole in developing a regional security architecture.

            It has become imperative to seek new mechanisms for building security in Africa, and in the Horn of Africa in particular.  The complex nature of the region’s conflicts calls for a unified effort at the local, national, regional, and international levels.  The objective of this workshop was to bring together key stakeholders in the Horn of Africa and elsewhere, comprising officials of governmental and inter-governmental organizations, military and security personnel, academics, and the broad civil society to discuss security architecture in the sub-region.

The issues discussed at the workshop were divided into three general categories: case studies of conflict and peacekeeping, regional organizations and mechanisms, and examples of other regional efforts at peacekeeping.  The workshop began with a welcome by Ambassador Ochieng Adala of the Pugwash Council and Africa Peace Forum.  A meeting in east Africa was first proposed three years ago, and the Africa Peace Forum is glad Pugwash provided this opportunity for discussion.  It is hoped that the results of this workshop will be addressed at the Pugwash annual conference in Cairo in November.

Case Studies of Conflict and Peacekeeping in the Horn of Africa

Four presentations focused on Somalia, addressing the causes of conflict or the current prospects for stability.  The roots of the Somali conflict can be traced as far back as colonialism.  Like most of the continent, nomadic groups were divided by ethnic borders.  Following the end of colonialism, these borders were rejected as nationalism and the idea of a Greater Somalia (the uniting of all ethnic Somalis within a single state) became more prevalent.  Under the ultimately disastrous leadership of Siad Barre, this led to Somali aggression in wars with Kenya and Ethiopia.  Military losses, the withdrawal of foreign support at the end of Cold War, increasing tensions between clans, and the failure of Barre’s socialist policies culminated in the collapse of the state.

There has been little improvement in the last decade.  International attention turned elsewhere following the failed intervention in 1993.  When the US withdrew its support of UNOSOM the UN was unable to sustain the mission, and although it has retained a security presence, it is forced to work out of Nairobi.  The current mission is not to create stability, but merely to protect national and international personnel and to collect information.  UNDP, UNISEF, etc continue to run aid projects, but they are subject to periodic kidnappings and assassinations, and the mission as a whole is handicapped by a lack of funding.  If the UN were to pull out the impact would probably be minimal.

At the regional level, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has been working diplomatically to re-form a central authority.   A governance settlement has been reached and the new government has returned to Somalia, although it has been unable to settle in Mogadishu.  IGAD has attempted to facilitate talks among the Somali factions, but it does not have the requisite resources to take a forceful approach.  Somalia continues to be a threat to its regional neighbors as a source of arms, piracy, large refugee flows, and terrorism (notably the 1998 embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam).  Although IGAD has offered to send troops into Somalia to attempt to restore stability and physical security, it does not have the legal authority to intervene without a mandate from the UN (which has so far been withheld because of the arms embargo).  If IGAD were to act unilaterally, it would need approval from Somalia itself (which has been withheld because of opposition from the warlords).  Although IGAD has the political will, it will need to work with international partners, the AU, and civil society to be effective.

At the local level, the Somali people have not been involved in the peace process, nor have them been able to return to normal lives.  The old state structure of Somalia is gone and the territory is effectively divided into three regions, including Somaliland and Puntland.  The traditional mechanisms for dealing with conflict and justice have reemerged in areas lacking governments, but this is not a long term solution.

A common theme in the discussion was the question of whether Somalia should be held together as a unified state.  It is possible the ideal of a Greater Somalia is holding together an artificial state.  If this is the case, the peace process is attempting to forestall the natural disintegration of Somalia into its distinct regions.  A possible solution would be a carefully structured federation system.

The discussion on Sudan focused on the inter-clan conflicts in the south rather than the north-south, Muslim-Christian/Animist conflict that has caught international attention.  Because economic and geographic conditions make it very difficult for journalists to find and feed information, there has been very little focus on the conflict itself.  Too few people have visited Sudan to give the world a clear idea of what is happening in the south.  Even the combatants themselves do not have information on casualties, number of arms in circulation, etc.

It is estimated that more people have died in conflicts in southern Sudan than in the conflict between the north and south.  Historically, each tribe has had a system of chiefs and elders that deal with problems without police, imprisonment, or a formal justice system.  Confrontations were dealt with at the community level before they could spread.  The introduction of modern government has circumvented the traditional means of preserving the peace; however, these systems are too small to be truly effective.  Combined with the ever increasing gluttony of small arms, small sparks can easily turn into major tribal conflicts (generally based on grazing land, water, women/marriage, and position).  Today having a gun has essentially become part of the transition to manhood, and most men in southern Sudan have some kind of weapon.  Military position has replaced the traditional justice system.

The comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) has restored some measure of peace to the area and the traditional systems are regaining some of their influence.  But there are major differences between traditional and modern law.  These two systems need to be fused to create traditional authority structures with modern solutions.

The final state specific presentation was on the continuing, yet often overlooked, conflict in Uganda.  Because it has spanned two decades, the causes of the original conflict (primarily political exclusion) are often neglected as the world focuses on the intransigent Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the north.  Many believe that the government has focused the majority of its efforts on entrenching its position rather than attempting to resolve the conflict.  There is also a clear divide between the north and south, with the majority of the latter labeling the conflict a local issue and content to remain uninvolved.

Although the government has conducted negotiations, these often appear to be merely token actions, generally in response to international impetus (pressure by international donors, allegations of human rights abuses, etc) and lacking follow through.  Government military campaigns are generally conducted under information blackouts and the state wide implications of the conflict are ignored.

On the regional level, both Kenya and Sudan have been active in helping Uganda deal with the LRA (which is on the US terrorist list).  Uganda has been viewed by many as a successful case of post-conflict reconstruction.  This is true in the south, but not in the north where the conflict is far from over.  Given the lack of commitment by the Ugandan government, a third party intervener (regional or international) will likely be needed to neutralize the LRA.

            The final case study dealt with Ethiopia, with a focus on the impact of technology and diasporas on African conflicts.  Technology on the continent was established primarily for development purposes; however it has been circumvented to support terrorism and to increase the influence of diasporas.  In the case of Ethiopia, the government has been unable to provide basic services such as education, health, and security.  Instead, these are undertaken by private industries and NGO’s, often funded by the diaspora, who has wide ranging financial and political influence.  In the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, much of the money, and therefore the command and control capacity, comes from America and Europe.  Some estimates put the amount of money flowing from the Ethiopian diaspora as greater than the Ethiopian government’s budget.  The main problem with the diasporas is that they have all of the rights and none of the responsibilities of citizenship.  They carry passports from other countries and are able to encourage revolutions or unrest without having to deal with the repercussions.

A second issue is that there is a large population of highly educated youth who are unable to find jobs in their home country.  This is a universal problem of disenchanted youth who go to Europe, have difficulty assimilating, and become vulnerable to extremists.  Projects are underway to merge education and technology, creating more jobs within Ethiopia and decreasing the number of youth forced to leave.

Regional Organizations and Mechanisms

Three non-governmental organizations in the region were discussed as potential tools in building a regional security architecture.

The International Development Research Center works to create north-south cooperation in development, and has a project that focuses on a security in the Horn of Africa.  The research looks at four broad areas (physical security, governance, resources, and military), with objectives that include analyzing the effectiveness of current mechanisms and engaging policy makers, intellectuals, and civil society.  The priority of the IDRC is to create sustainable structures to ensure the absence of war and to promote human development.  The IDRC collaborates with regional organizations (IGAD, COMESA, AU, etc) to work with a comprehensive view of the impediments to security (including corruption, drought, refugees, and abuse of women).  The IDRC works by giving governments a vested interest in the success of their research; however, it is somewhat handicapped by its reliance on foreign donors, the difficulty in creating political consensus in implementation, and the lack of government cooperation.

The Great Lakes Parliamentary Forum on Peace (AMANI Forum) is an organization that works to increase the participation of parliamentarians in discussions on peace.  Membership currently includes more than 650 MPs from seven countries in the Great Lakes region.  The AMANI Forum supports an African solutions to African problems approach and focuses on increasing the accountability of governments, promoting dialogue between conflicting parties, upholding democratic practices and human security protection, reducing the negative impact of international interest in regional conflicts, and controlling the proliferation of small arms.  AMANI has worked in partnership with other organizations such as the AU, IGAD (and the Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism- CEWARN), the Regional Center on Small Arms (RECSA), and the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Great Lakes Region (APPG).

The Regional Center on Small Arms (RECSA) was established in June 2005 to implement the Nairobi Declaration and the Nairobi Protocol.  These were created in response to the continuing proliferation of small arms throughout the region, and focus on strengthen legislation governing arms, strengthening the operational capacity of law enforcement, increasing cross border cooperation, collecting and destroying weapons, demobilization and reintegration programs for ex-combatants, improving relations with communities, and enhancing regional cooperation and coordination.  RECSA is tasked with facilitating regional and international cooperation in combating illicit arms trade, increasing accountability and law enforcement, and promoting information sharing among governments.  Because small arms proliferation is a problem impervious to borders, regional and international collaboration are essential to RECSA’s success.

Other Regional Examples of Peacekeeping

Alexander Nikitin (of Pugwash Russia) discussed Russian peacekeeping efforts to offer a parallel to African attempts.  The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) has taken advantage of Chapter VIII of the UN charter, which authorizes regional organizations to undertake missions on behalf of the UN.  The UN has increasingly used this measure in peace operations (NATO in the Balkans, ECOWAS in Liberia and Sierra Leone, AU in Sudan).  A extension of this practice would be the establishment of the proposed African Standby Force (a similar proposal by the EU has yet to be implemented).  However, as CIS has seen, real capabilities are very different from those on paper, and troop readiness, language barriers, equipment quality, etc are likely to prove more cumbersome than anticipated.  The African approach to peace operations should be multifaceted, with different functions for the military, diplomatic, regional, and international components.  A general lesson from peacekeeping is that policy forces are just as important as military forces, especially in post-conflict reconstruction.

Egypt has been an active intervener in the region, with missions in Somalia, Liberia, Angola, and Western Sahara.  It has a large military and has worked to improve not just its capacity to participate and lead peace operations, but also the quality of its participation.  The Egyptian military now trains specifically for peacekeeping and has established institutes for language and technology training.  The African peacekeeping institute trains peacekeepers in both English and French.  Recommendations for the future include the creation of a standby force (either African or Euro-Asian), increasing capacity for disaster relief operations and maritime activities, and improving cooperation in updating and understanding technology.

The workshop concluded with a presentation by Prof. Gwyn Prins that looked at the changing mentality in peacekeeping and the future challenges facing the African continent.  In recent years there has been an ideological shift from non-interventionism to a responsibility to protect.  Basic Principle “B” of The Responsibility to Protect, Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (December 2001) says, “Where a population is suffering serious harm, as a result of internal wars, insurgency, repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect.”  As humanitarian interventions became more frequent through the 1990’s, the pre-eminence of national sovereignty began to erode.  Today the responsibility to protect supersedes sovereignty if the situation fulfils certain “just cause” criteria (including (actual or apprehended) serious and irreparable harm to human beings, large scale loss of life, or large scale ethnic cleansing).

Since 1999 the responsibility to protect has led to missions in Liberia, Sierra-Leone, and Sudan (among others).  These have all had similar features such as subcontracting by the UNSC, action by unilateral states or ad hoc coalitions, “normal” military operations (not the peace keeping or peace enforcement that dominated the 1990’s), and fulfilment of the “just cause” criteria.  The question that now arises is who is the efficient and legitimate authority to become involved in a situation (the best example of this from workshop discussions is IGAD in Somalia)?  Similarly, we have to look at whose interest is it to do what, and who has the political will to do what?  As we have seen in recent conflicts, the AU and IGAD have the desire to key players in conflict management and building security in Africa.  Answering the questions about their efficiency and legitimacy is key in analyzing their potential in the Horn of Africa region.

Participant List

Amb. (ret.) Ochieng Adala, Member, Pugwash Council; Africa Peace Forum (APFO), Nairobi, Kenya[formerly: Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations, NY (1992-93); Deputy Secretary/Director for Political Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (1988-92); Ambassador of Kenya to the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Kingdom of Morocco, Zambia, Algeria and Tunisia (1984-88)]

Prof. Mwesiga Baregu, Professor of International Relations, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania [formerly: Head, Peace and Security Research Program, SAPES Trust, Harare, Zimbabwe]

Dr. Jeffrey Boutwell, Executive Director, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, Washington, DC, USA; Member, Pugwash Executive Committee [formerly: Associate Executive Officer, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Cambridge; Staff Aide, National Security Council, Washington, DC]

Prof. Paolo Cotta-Ramusino, Secretary-General, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs; Chair, Pugwash Executive Committee; Professor of Mathematical Physics, University of Milan, Italy; [formerly: Secretary General, Union of Italian Scientists for Disarmament (USPID)]

Mr. Rolf Helmrich, UNDSS Security Training Officer, Somalia [formerly: Lieutenant Colonel (rtd) German Air Force]

Ms. Njeri Karuru, Senior Program Officer, Peace Conflict and Development, International Development Research Centre, Nairobi, Kenya

Ms. Salome Katia, Executive Secretary, The Great Lakes Parliamentary Forum on Peace – AMANI Forum, Nairobi, Kenya; Organizing Secretary, Women Educational Researchers of Kenya; Ph.D Candidate, University of South Africa

Dr. Mitslal Kifleyesus-Matschie, Manager, EuroContact, Jena, Germany; Lecturer, Erfurt University,Germany [Consultant, Technical Secretariat, OPCW, External Relations Division (1994-98); Harvard Sussex Brussels Researcher, Brussels]

Amb. Bethuel A. Kiplagat—Executive Director, Africa Peace Forum (APFO), Nairobi, Kenya; Special IGAD Envoy for Somali Peace Process (2003 – 2004); Kenya Ambassador to France and Kenya High Commissioner to the Court of St. James between 1978 – 1883); Permanent Secretary, Kenya Ministry of Foreign Affairs – 1983 – 1991; Currently, Chairman of Eminent Persons – NEPAD Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM); Chancellor, Egerton University, Kenya.

Dr. Alfred Sebit Lokuji, Consultant—Development, Management, Policy Analysis, Africa Peace Forum (APFO, Nairobi, Kenya [formerly: Director for Civil Service Training—Institute for Development, Environment and Agricultural Studies (IDEAS), Yambio, Sudan (2001); Head of Department and Lecturer, Department of Government and Public Administration, Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya (1997-2001)]

Ms. Meghan Madden, Intern, Pugwash Conferences Washington DC office, USA; Graduate Student-Masters in Security Studies, Georgetown University

Dr. Ahmed Ibrahim Mahmoud, Senior Researcher, Al-Ahram Center for Political & Strategic Studies, Al-Ahram Foundation, Cairo, Egypt

Mr. Omar Bashir Mohamed, National Director, Somali Studies Center (SSC), Mogadishu, Somalia; and Team Leader, Center for Peacemaking and Conflict Studies, Somalia

Dr. Alexander: Nikitin, Professor, MGIMO University, and Director, MGIMO Center for Euro-Atlantic Security, Moscow, Russia; President, Russian Political Science Association; Board member, Russian Academy of Political Sciences; Member of the International Pugwash Council; Director, Center for Political and International Studies; Elected Member, Russian Academy of Military Sciences

Mr. James Thuo Njuguna, Ph.D. candidate, Infectious Diseases and Biological Weapons Threats, University of Bonn, Germany

Dr. Paul Omach, Senior Lecturer, Department of Political Science & Public Administration, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda

Mr. Oyugi Onono, Planning and Coordination Officer, Regional Centre on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Nairobi, Kenya

Prof. Gwyn Prins, Alliance Research Professor, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK and Columbia University, New York. [formerly: Senior Research Fellow, Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA), Chatham House, London; Lecturer in History and Politics, University of Cambridge; Fellow of Emmanuel College]

Mr. Abdiraham Osman RagheSomalia, WSP International, Nairobi, Kenya;

Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Mohamed Kadry Said, Member, Pugwash Council; Head of Military Studies Unit and Technology Advisor, Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, Al-Ahram Foundation, Cairo, Egypt; Professor of Missile Mechanics of Flight, Military Technical College (MTC), Cairo; Member of Strategic Planning Committee, Egyptian Council for Space Research and Technology  [formerly: Deputy Director, Center of Defence Studies, Cairo]

Mr. Francis Sang, Director/Coordinator, Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA), Nairobi, Kenya [formerly: Director, Criminal Investigation Department; Senior Deputy Commissioner of Police; Provincial Police Officer]

Mr. George Wachira, Executive Director, Nairobi Peace Initiative, Kenya

Mr. Dominic Welsh, Security Manager, Woodside Energy Kenya (WEK) [formerly: UK government]; field of study: Security and Risk Management