Sunday, Aug 18, 2019

25 July 2019, Djibouti:  IGAD Security Sector Program (IGAD SSP), with support from the European Union Trust Fund (EUTF) through the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) under the IPPSHAR program, conducted a three days regional consultative meeting on the Illicit Circulation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) with regard to Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and other relevant International Frameworks, held on 23-25 July 2019 in Djibouti.

The IGAD region has been subjected to various forms of emerging, evolving and existing security threats, which includes illicit circulation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW). Concern for the impacts of illicit small arms flows extends well to most of IGAD Member states’ borders. Despite IGAD’s and its Member states’ (MSs) improving security architecture to address these challenges, cross-border security threats of trafficking in SALW, human beings and drug are further evolving and new risks are also emerging. The illicit circulation of SALW fuels/contributes to armed conflicts, terrorist threats and instability in many IGAD member states, as recognized by the IGAD Peace and Security Strategy (2016-2020) and visibly manifested by recent security development in the region. Therefore, there is a critical need to undertake some consultative technical meetings in addition to regular national assessments in all IGAD Member States to assess any gaps in their national systems and capabilities to prevent the illicit proliferation and use of SALW and ammunition.

Regional and International bodies such as the African Union (AU), and the United Nations (UN) have taken several steps in identifying the threats of SALW.  The AU Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by Year 2020 recognizes that while the causes of conflicts in the continent and the factors driving them have changed, the use of small arms and light weapons has remained a common feature of these conflicts. The AU Roadmap encompasses a number of steps and modalities for action, with a focus on preventing the illicit flow of weapons throughout the continent.  The UN in 2005, ratified the first small arms treaty of global application, the UN Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition (Firearms Protocol) supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. In 2015 UN Member States adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which identify violence and illicit arms flows as obstacles to development. Under SDG Target 16.4, UN member states committed to significantly reduce illicit arms flows by 2030 (UNGA, 2015).

The aim of the meeting was to enable relevant stakeholders to contribute to attain the following objectives (1) evaluate  their current national system and legislations for preventing, detecting and addressing the illicit circulation of SALW, (2) identify effective measures to prevent diversion and improve/strengthen the detection of illicit arms, their seizure and permanent removal from circulation, and (3) review national action/strategic plans in order to prevent, detect, and address the illicit circulation of SALW and suggest areas of improvement and outline regional areas of interventions.

The Opening ceremony was presided by Commander Abebe Muluneh, Director of IGAD Security Sector Program (IGAD SSP).  In his opening remarks, he welcomed all participants and thanked the Government of Djibouti for hosting, and the partners for supporting this important meeting.  He stated that “this meeting is in line with the UN Program of Action on small arms (PoA) and with AU Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa” and mentioned that this meeting “is the first of its kind in IGAD; so precisely it is expected to outline standards, roadmaps and applied measures; which could guide a process to build capacity in IGAD MSs to undertake regular national assessments of their practices to prevent, detect, and address the illicit circulation of SALW in the region. Furthermore it would create platform for more consultation and direction with regards to Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) status in IGAD MSs as well”.

Thirty five (35) representatives from all IGAD active Member States’ institutions, namely; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry Interior Affairs/Interior Security, National SALW Authority/ SALW Focal Points, Police Service, Attorney General Office, and Ministry of Defense, among others, have participated in this training.  Regional technical experts namely Dr. Francis Sang, Dr. Omer A. Azizi and the Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, the Horn of Africa and Bordering States (RECSA) have facilitated the training through a co-creation approach. Technical expertise from Small Arms Survey (SAS) was also provided that helped for the regular assessments in the designing and capacity-building phases. The experts delivered presentations on the planned topics complemented by in-class discussions, brainstorming sessions, question and answer sessions and group exercises.

 During the three days, the following themes were thoroughly discussed:

  • UN PoA on small arms and the International Tracing Instrument (ITI);
  • The AU Master Roadmap to Silence the Guns in Africa by Year 2020;
  • TSTs in IGAD Peace and Security Strategy and its IGAD SSP;
  • Overview of current national system & legislations to address the illicit circulation of SALW;
  • Review national action/strategic plans and applied M&E measures of SALW;
  • Technical tools for conducting SALW assessments;
  • Consultation on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT);
  • Enforcement and implementation. (This would mean developing laws guidelines,  that are understood by range of groups and agencies); and 
  • Awareness raising and communications (raising awareness of new obligations and requirements.  The use media techniques and messaging strategies). 

At the end of the training, participants came up with a draft outline of roadmap/national action/strategic plans to prevent, detect, and address the illicit circulation of SALW for Member States that will help them to introduce new technical tools in identifying (a) gaps in their national systems and legislations (b) national practices and experiences that could address these gaps, and (c) Consultation and direction with regards to Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).  The key recommendations were:

  • Cross border issues highlighted as a special concern postponed to be discussed in next meeting;
  • Member states are to encourage academic support from researchers and relevant institutions;
  • Encouragement to IGAD to have a database for experts to support member states on fight against SALW; and:
  • Member States requested to adopt the self-assessment tools presented by Small Arms Survey to deal with the problem of SALW in the IGAD region.

 On 25 July 2019, in cognizant with the existing cooperation that exists between IGAD and RECSA, as this meeting reaffirmed the collaboration, a Memorandum of Understanding was renewed between the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, Horn of Africa and Bordering States (RECSA) at IGAD Secretariat.  Read the full story of this here.

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 25 July 2019, Nairobi:  IGAD Security Sector Program (IGAD SSP), with support from the European Union Trust Fund (EUTF) through the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) under the IPPSHAR program, conducted a two days National Training for the Government of Kenya on the Role of Technology and Social Media Platforms as Recruitment Tools by Terrorist Networks and the Challenges for Security Institutions, held on 24-25 July 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya.

One of the threats that affect all IGAD Member States is Terrorism.  Terrorism has been evolving and many factors have contributed to its changing nature.  These factors are interlinked and interconnected by actors, space, and enabling infrastructure or environment. Terrorism has become instantaneous and unpredictable affecting many societies and at the same time reaching a wide audience because of technology.  Cyberspace is an environment without boundaries, a privileged place where terrorists find resources, make propaganda activities, recruit and mobilize sympathizers, disseminate information, provide training, secure communication, or even launch attacks.  Social media is an essential element of terrorism whereby terrorist networks fully utilize to their advantage.  Terrorists use online platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube with a direct and straightforward language that attracts young individuals through the use of images and videos with high emotional impact.  In addition, messaging is amplified through easy dissemination of content by the use of emails, texts and mobile applications by sympathizers and media outlets.  Almost all terrorist groups are active on the web including Al-Shabaab, that poses the major threat in the region.  This is an alarming situation whereby it necessitates the need for active response in Internet security including enforcing laws.  It also calls for the need to identify the actual role of technology used by terrorist groups in the region.

 As part of its effort to enhance the capacity of IGAD Member States in the fight against terrorism and with the above background in mind, IGAD SSP conducted a two days national training for Kenya with the theme of “The role of technology and Social Media Platforms as Recruitment Tools for Terrorist Networks and the Challenges for Security Institutions”.

During the opening, Mr. Daoud Alwan, the Counter Terrorism Pillar Head at the IGAD SSP provided a welcoming remark on behalf of Commander Abebe Muluneh, the Director of IGAD SSP.  In his welcoming remark, he stated that “security institutions have a challenging job in terms of infrastructure & capacity, access to information, balancing between privacy and security, upholding human rights principles, right to freedom of expression and the rule of law, maintaining national security coupled with the ever changing nature of terrorism and technological advancements, make counterterrorism efforts complex.…Hence, enhancing the capacity of information, communication, and technology practitioners as well as the security institutions officials is very important as they are the ones who deal with potential and active terrorists through the various institutional infrastructures”.  Further to the opening remark, the Guest of Honor, Mr. John M. Kilonzi, Director of Peace and Security Directorate at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya officially opened the training with an official speech.  In his speech, Mr. Kilonzi appreciated the support from IGAD especially for the specific and tailored training at national level.  He further stated the challenges and efforts of the Government in counterterrorism and stressed on the need to stay ahead so as to be proactive.   

Thirty (30) representatives from Kenya national agencies such as the Police, Youth Service, Prisons Service, regional counter terrorism center of excellence, criminal investigation, Ministry of interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, communication authority, national crime research center, national counter terrorism center, public prosecution, Ministry of ICT, Attorney General Office, and Office of the President participated in this training.  National experts namely Dr. Samuel Kamau, Mr. Francis Kagai, and Mr. Mark Kaigwa facilitated the training through detailed and technical sessions through interactive discussions, case studies, real time and live demonstrations, and group work exercises to bring about the required result of the training.  Experts from IGAD SSP, CEWARN, ICEPCVE, and INTERPOL have also shared their experiences at the training.

 During the two days, the following themes were thoroughly discussed:

  • Technology and Terrorism: Concepts, Definitions, Types and Links: Exploring How Terrorist Networks Exploit Social Media and internet Platforms
  • The Data and Social Media Landscape in Kenya: Kenyans online
  • Early Warning Indicators of potential terrorist vulnerable to online recruitment: identification, assessment, approach, handlingThe overall objective of the training was to.
  • Social Media presence - terrorist networks vis-a-vis security institutions
  • Recruitment methods and tools through technology - counter messaging approaches, discrediting and hindering dissemination/popularization
  • Social media, information flows and disinformation
  • Technology architecture in relation to terrorism
  • Online Internet surveillance - availability, limitations, access, utilization, and tools
  • Challenges and opportunities for security institutions - institutional setup, ICT infrastructures, cooperation and coordination
  • Legal instruments on technology, social media and terrorism - international, continental, regional and national: policy recommendations

 At the end of the training, participants came up with sets of recommendations and way forward in order to mitigate the threat of online recruitment and the use of Internet, Social Media, and other platforms by terrorist for an effective counter terrorism approaches.

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25 July, 2019 (DJIBOUTI, Djibouti): A Memorandum of Understanding was renewed between the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, Horn of Africa and Bordering States (RECSA) today at IGAD Secretariat. RECSA was established by the member states of the Nairobi Protocol on June 21, 2005 with the mandate to ensure the efficient and effective implementation of the said Protocol.

This Memorandum of Understanding serves to reinstate the formal relations established between RECSA and IGAD in the first Memorandum of Understanding of 10th August 2009 and to reinvigorate cooperation, and to facilitate the effective undertaking of complementary and joint projects and activities that contribute to enhancing peace and security for development in the Great Lakes Region, the Horn of Africa and Bordering States.

IGAD Security Sector Program (IGAD SSP) would work closely with RECSA to promote strategic partnerships to effectively combat the problem of Small Arms and Light Weapons. Furthermore, they would Organizing and conducting joint special training programmes aimed towards strengthening the capacity of RECSA and IGAD Member States on prevention, control and reduction of proliferation and trafficking/circulation of Small Arms and Light Weapons; in addition to conduct joint programs on counter-terrorism, conflict prevention, stabilization and promotion of governance and security sector reforms within the region.

Commander Abebe Muluneh Beyene, the Director of IGAD SSP has signed on behalf of H.E Ambassador Engineer Mahboub M. Maalim, the Executive Secretary of IGAD; and on the other hand, H.E Lieutenant. General Badreldin Elamin Abdelgadir, the Executive Secretary of RECSA has signed for RECSA.

The IGAD region is highly engulfed by illicit firearms through the porous borders that is hindering the integrated sustainable development and fuel violent conflict across the region. Thus, it is high time for IGAD and RECSA to reinstate the working collaboration for the better end. As a result, they are agreed to:

  • Promoting and developing mechanisms for information acquisition, processing and sharing that shall enhance regional peace and security efforts;
  • Complementary technical expertise sharing to support and complement the implementation of each other’s mandate;
  • Organizing and conducting joint special training programmes aimed towards strengthening the capacity of RECSA and IGAD Member States on prevention, control and reduction of proliferation and trafficking/circulation of Small Arms and Light Weapons;
  • Joint planning, organizing, and participating in the activities organized by each, aimed at amplifying the prevention, control and reduction of proliferation and trafficking/circulation of Small Arms and Light Weapons as a critical aspect of Human Security;
  • Conducting joint programs on counterterrorism, conflict prevention, stabilization and promotion of governance and security sector reforms within the region.
  • Resource mobilization for joint programs aimed at strengthening Peace, Security and Development in the region;
  • Promoting and supporting harmonization of legislations and policy frameworks in the IGAD and RECSA Member States;
  • Promoting and supporting the implementation of agreed international and regional frameworks relevant to the prevention, control and reduction of proliferation, trafficking, circulating and stockpiling of small arms and light weapons
  • Any other areas of shared priorities and common interests as may be agreed to by the Parties.

 Under this MoU, both Parties agree to cooperate and facilitate the effective undertaking of complementary and joint projects and activities that contribute to enhancing peace and security for development in the IGAD and RECSA region.

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15 July 2019 (Juba, South Sudan): The IGAD’s Mediation Support Unit (MSU) has organized the 4th High Level Retreat for IGAD mediators in Juba, the Republic of South Sudan to discuss the significance of dialogue and mediation in post-agreement phases as a constructive tool for conflict resolution and strengthening of dialogue and mediation initiatives.

While delivering his Opening Remarks, the Peace and Security Director, Hon Siraj Fegessa mentioned that within the region, IGAD has played a vital role in many regional developments, key among hem mediation interventions which have brought renewed efforts and security towards sustainable peace and development.

“It is evident that peace processes can be achieved though dialogue and negation as an apparatus to resolve conflicts and bring sustainable peace. The mediators must continue to dialogue to achieve reconciliation” Hon Fegessa  added.

On behalf of IGAD Chair and Federal Government of Ethiopia Amb Dr. Koang Tutlam also emphasized that mediators in the IGAD Sub-region must continue supporting to see through implementation of agreements signed by parties because this is the only alternative for peace and stability to prevail in the sub-region.

The retreat was officially opened by the Guest of Honor, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of South Sudan Hon. Nhial Deng Nhial, who added that continuous dialogue is not only important but should be coupled with logistical facilitation.

“The necessity for any mediation process to sustain engagement with the parties for any mediation to sustain engagement with the parties during the post engagement with the parties during the post agreement signature phase can not be overemphasized but it not enough, it must be coupled with the necessary logistical facilitation” Hon Nhial added.

Mediation continues to be widely recognized as one of the most effective means for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts in terms of cost, time and results.

During the 3-day meeting, mediators will explore the role of the dialogue and mediation support in enabling transformative and sustainable change following comprehensive peace agreements; share experiences and knowledge in the post agreement phase; as well as discuss mechanisms for deepening mediation knowledge and practice within communities in South Sudan and all other Member States of IGAD in order to prevent relapses into conflict after the signing of peace agreements.

MSU envisions that at the completion of the retreat, IGAD mediators’ capacities in mediation and dialogue will be strengthened and those in peace agreements will be able to sustain, support and implement peace agreements through a carefully planned and well-coordinated follow-up systems as well as be able to oversee gaps in implementation where need be to resolve emerging challenges.

The High-level retreat is being attended by the IGAD Roster of Mediators, Members of the AU Panel of the Wise, religious leaders, mediation experts from the region as well youth representatives and members from the Young Women in Mediation Network.

The Kingdom of Denmark provided the funding to retreat, and it is jointly facilitated by IGAD MSU and the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD).

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