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Article

Africa is a place of enormous variation and its countries have had very different postcolonial experiences. However, it is clear that since the 1940s peace has been elusive for many across the continent. A series of wars driven by poverty, identity, political economy, and failing states led to a widespread crisis of governance and extensive international intervention. Reductions in the security capabilities of states have also led to the growth of violent transnational groups, particularly those related to Islamic extremism in the Maghreb, Nigeria, and Somalia but also criminal networks involved with drug and people smuggling. This wide variety of conflicts also generated an equally wide range of responses as the international community began to develop ways of combating conflicts through reform of its own peacekeeping capacity. The optimism of the 1992 Agenda for Peace, which called for the UN to become the central instrument in the prevention and ending of conflicts, has given way to a more sanguine approach, as mixed results have led to diverse outcomes for African countries and Africa’s own peace and security architecture. In the end, despite the rapid development of important local and localized bottom-up peacebuilding initiatives, the state remains central to the overarching aims of peace and stability across the continent. It is here where the variations in performance can be found in conflict prevention, peacekeeping, and post-conflict reconstruction.

Article

The considerable variation in the way national security agencies are structured is a function of two basic factors: the state’s political and social heterogeneity and the possibility of allying with a strong external state, usually the United States. The problem, however, with fragmenting the military and security forces to achieve “coup-proofing” is that a tradeoff exists between fragmentation and assuring internal security on the one hand, and ensuring offensive capabilities to ward off external enemies, on the other. According to this model, centralized homogenous entities enjoying U.S. protection will tend to fragment their security systems most. States that duplicate their security forces least are plural societies that cannot command U.S. interest and commitment to meet their external security threats. The Palestinian Authority (PA) under Yasser Arafat was emblematic of political entities that were homogenous and enjoyed the protection of the United States and Israel, and it could therefore fragment its security forces into 12 or more security agencies compared to Eritrea, which achieved independence a year before the establishment of the PA, and maintained a very unified security apparatus to meet the threat of a vastly larger enemy—Ethiopia. As long as Israel (and the United States and its allies) supported the PA, Arafat made do with a fragmented inefficient security structure that was nevertheless efficient enough, with Israeli security backing, to meet the major external threat—Hamas and the Jihad al-Islami in both the West Bank/Judea and Samaria and Gaza. Israel’s decision to withdraw from Gaza in December 2003 and to complete its withdrawal from Gaza by September 2005 forced the fragmented PA to face these enemies alone, leading to the loss of Gaza to Hamas. By contrast, in the West Bank/Judea and Samaria, the more fragmented PA security structure prevailed as a result of considerable security cooperation with Israel. Hamas, bereft of a close external ally, challenges a superior Israeli military and therefore has a unified security structure much like Eritrea in the 1990s.

Article

The army has been a central part of Rwanda’s political system from the precolonial period until the early 21st century and is intrinsically part of the construction and politics of the state. Civil–military relations in Rwanda demonstrate not only the central features of transitioning a rebel group to a national defense sector but also how some states construct their armed forces after a period of mass violence. Since the civil war and genocide in the early 1990s, the Rwandan military has been the primary actor in politics, the economy, and state building as well as in regional wars in central Africa and the Great Lakes region. Practical experiences of guerrilla insurgency and conflict in Uganda and Rwanda, postconflict military integration, and the intertwining of political and economic agendas with the ruling party have shaped civil–military relations in Rwanda and have been central to how the Rwandan defense sector functions. Contemporary Rwandan civil–military relations center around the two elements of service delivery and control, which has resulted in the development of an effective and technocratic military in terms of remit and responsibilities on the one hand, and the creation of a politicized force of coercion on the other hand. The military in Rwanda therefore reflects the pressures and dynamics of the wider state and cannot be separated from it. The Rwandan army is thus a “political army” and is part and parcel of the political structures that oversee and govern the Rwandan state.