Search

Africa's Public Procurement & Entrepreneurship Research Initiative – APPERI

Tag

Working group

Somalia: UN experts on use of mercenaries urge greater oversight for private security contractors


UN News Centre

18 December 2012 – The Government of Somalia must do more to ensure the security of its citizens while increasing regulations on private military and security companies, a United Nations expert panel urged today at the conclusion of its seven-day visit to the Horn of Africa country.

“As Somalia rebuilds its security institutions, the Government should ensure that private security forces are properly regulated and do not become a substitute for competent and accountable police,” said Faiza Patel, who currently heads the UN’s Working Group on the use of mercenaries.

“All Somalis have the right to security, not just those who can afford to pay for it,” she added.

After decades of factional fighting, the East Africa country has been undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process, with a series of landmark steps that have helped bring an end to the country’s nine-year political transition period and the resulting security vacuum which rendered Somalia one of the most lawless States on the planet. These steps included the adoption of a Provisional Constitution, the establishment of a new Parliament and the appointments of a new President and a new Prime Minister.

The Working Group commended the formation of the new Government and its efforts to establish a functioning, peaceful and democratic nation. It noted, however, that the new administration needed to reinforce its control over the private armed security sector through redefined laws and offered its assistance in developing such legislation by drawing on best practices learned from other countries.

“Such laws and their consistent application are critical to guarantee that private security providers operate in a legal, transparent and accountable manner,” Working Group-member Anton Katz stated, adding that the availability of private security should not detract from “the urgent need to provide security for all Somalis.”

In its findings, the Working Group noted that some private security contractors have not always operated transparently in the East African country and, occasionally, veer away from their prescribed goals of providing simple protection from armed factions, bandits and pirates.

Pointing to one instance in the state of Puntland, the UN experts cited incidents involving the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) which was created with the aim to repel the continuing scourge of piracy afflicting the Somali coast.

The Working Group established that the PMPF had engaged in operations unrelated to piracy, including a recent case in which the police force had worked to prevent a candidate for the Puntland presidency from campaigning in Bossaso, the area’s largest city.

Ms. Patel warned that the PMPF was operating outside the legal framework and called on local authorities to integrate the force into “the agreed-upon Somali national security structure and ensure that it is used strictly for the purposes for which it is intended.”

Turning to the issue of piracy – a problem which has long affected international shipping in the heavily trafficked waterways off the coast of Somalia – the UN experts said they were satisfied that piracy had decreased over the past year, although they expressed concern at the continuing use of armed guards aboard vessels.

Ms. Patel called upon the international community to reach an agreement on regulations and procedures regarding the use of armed personnel in the shipping industry, cautioning that a failure to do so created risks for human rights violations at sea.

At the same time, the Working Group also examined the use of private contractors by the UN as well as the UN-backed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and welcomed efforts to ensure that the security providers had a clean human rights record and maintained the “gold standard” when it came to human rights issues.

In addition to Ms. Patel of Pakistan, the working group is currently composed of Patricia Arias of Chile, Elzbieta Karska of Poland, Anton Katz of South Africa, and Gabor Rona of the United States and Hungary. Reporting to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, they are independent from any government or organization, and serve in their individual capacities.

Governance, Security Among Areas of U.S.-Nigerian Cooperation


U.S. Africa Command

By Anastasya Lloyd-Damnjanovic
U.S. Department of State

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jun 7, 2012 — Calling Nigeria “one of our most important strategic partners,” senior U.S. officials met with Nigeria’s foreign minister, Olegbenga Ashiru, and other Nigerian officials June 4-5, 2012 for the seventh gathering of the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission (BNC). The meeting was dedicated to evaluating past cooperative efforts and ideas for future coordination by the BNC’s working groups in governance, regional security, energy and agriculture.

Launched in April 2010, the BNC encourages greater U.S.-Nigerian cooperation through working groups that focus on areas of mutual interest.

At the June 4-5 meeting in Washington, the Governance, Transparency and Integrity Working Group identified electoral reforms and strategies to improve electoral procedure in preparation for the 2015 national elections as issues, as well as strategies to improve the Nigerian public’s confidence in anti-corruption measures. In his opening remarks, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns recognized the working group’s success in promoting the transparency of the 2011 Nigerian presidential election.

The United States contributed to a $31.3 million election assistance program for the Nigerian government and the Independent National Electoral Commission, resulting in an election that was widely considered free and fair.

“The United States is invested in Nigeria’s success because Nigeria’s challenges are Africa‘s challenges,” Burns said. “And if we can help Nigeria chart a secure, prosperous and democratic course, then Nigeria’s successes can be Africa’s as well.”

Nigeria is also the United States’ largest sub-Saharan trading partner.

The Regional Security Working Group reviewed reports of extra-legal activity by Nigerian security forces, considered ways to inform the public of governmental efforts to prevent violent extremism, and affirmed the continuation of cooperative efforts to improve Nigerian military and police units. Methods for the attraction of private investment and the distribution of the benefits from Nigeria’s natural wealth to its people were the focus of discussion by the Energy and Investment Working Group, while the Agriculture and Food Security Working Group examined opportunities for growth in the private agricultural sector and ways to increase agricultural lending in Nigeria.

The two countries concluded the BNC meeting with an agreement for a joint communique that will outline future assignments for the working groups and affirmed the United States’ commitment to holding a working group on the Niger Delta later this year.

“The robust engagement of local and federal government from both our countries over the past two days demonstrates the importance and depth of our partnership,” Burns said in closing remarks for the BNC at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington on June 5.

“I see enormous promise for Nigeria and for our relationship in the years to come,” he added.

Source: IIP Digital

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: