Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

August 20, 2019, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Youth representatives from ministries of Youth, youth groups and Civil Society Organisations within the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) region are attending a regional workshop conducted by the IGAD Mediation Support Unit (MSU) and ACCORD to deliberate on how there can be genuine inclusion and representation of youth in peace processes and dispute resolution as a way to encourage youth participation in conflict prevention, peace-making, and nation-building.

The 3-day seminar is being held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital aims at raising awareness to sensitize the Member States on how to set up mechanisms and frameworks that enable young people to participate meaningfully in peace processes. This inclusion targets inclusion in dispute resolution, and explore ways through which the UNSC Resolution 2250 (2015) and 2419 (2018) on the facilitation of youth equal and full participation at decision‑making levels can be adapted and localized.

Within IGAD, the youth have been identified as central in mitigating the security challenges in IGAD having in the recent past engaged young women and provided them with platforms to share their experiences and challenges in mediation. In addition, MSU has provided internships and fellowship opportunities to young women in the field of conflict prevention and mediation to enhance youth skills. 

In his opening remarks, the Director of MSU, Dr. Aleu Garang emphasized the purpose of convening this seminar is to create a platform for youth to engage, a network for further engagement in peace processes. He reiterated the commitment of the Committee of Ambassadors (CoA) to recognize the youth role in peace processes, advance the election of the “Youth Special Envoy” to advance representation of youth issues, voices, and inclusion in peace processes at the national and regional level.

“IGAD MSU has over the years recognized and engaged the youth due to the important role they play, considering that they are the majority of the population in Africa, hence their voice is important, as well as give them possibilities and opportunities especially in peace processes for them to meaningfully participate in nation-building “ he said.

Other remarks by ACCORD and the Youth for Peace Africa under the African Union reiterated that the youth require to be engaged in nation-building using their numbers to underscore the importance of involving youth and their concerns and perspectives in peace processes as future leaders. 

“Youth voices need to be heard, where they should be heard, hence they need to speak and be heard at all levels” Mr. Rhuks Ako, a co-convener of the AU Youth for Peace (YNP) Africa Program stated.

Other objectives to this European Union-funded seminar is to also strengthen capacities of IGAD member states in understanding the role of youth in peace processes, and particularly in mediation, negotiations for comprehensive agreements and implementation of these agreements. The aim as well as to create synergies amongst national institutions, youth groups, CSO's and youth in social and political processes and to share experiences, good practices and lessons learned in youth inclusion in decision-making.

In attendance are IGAD focal persons, ministry of youth representatives, youth leaders at learning institutions, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) engaged in Youth, Peace & Security matters (YPS), United Nations, African Union, ACCORD as well as experts from IGAD region and Africa at large.

Background

  • In 2018, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2419 calling for an increasing role of youth in negotiating and implementing peace agreements recommending the peacebuilding commissions to include and establish ways through, which to engage young people in national efforts to build and sustain peace. 
  • At the continental level, the Agenda 2063 of the African Union aims at prioritizing inclusive social and economic development, continental and regional integration, democratic governance and peace and security in order to reposition Africa to becoming a dominant player in the global arena. 
  • About 65% of the total population of Africa is below the age of 35 years, and over 35% are between the ages of 15 to 35 years; making Africa the most youthful continent. By 2020, it is projected that out of 4 people, 3 will be on average 20 years old in Africa. These statistics clearly show the importance of youth inclusion in peace processes. According to the IGAD State of the Region Report (2016), the demographic age structure in the IGAD region shows that 55% of the population are youth. 
  • Despite the involvement of youth in violent spaces such as extremism and rebel groups, as well as victims of violence, they have actively been involved in creating awareness and activities championing peace, fight against discrimination and violence, hate speech mitigation, as well as conflict prevention and resolution. 

                                                                                                        

10 August 2019, Mombasa:  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 four days regional training on “Investigating and Prosecuting Smuggling of Migrants”, held on 07-10 August 2019 in Mombasa, Kenya.

IGAD SSP is a comprehensive regional program that covers prevention and countering of Transnational Security Threats (TSTs) including terrorism, transnational organized crime (TOC), maritime insecurity. IGAD SSP has also the responsibility of providing capacity building for the security sector institutions of Member States. The overall objective of IGAD SSP is to promote and strengthen regional and national capacities to better predict, prevent and counter TSTs and thereby contribute to regional peace and stability, and foster enabling environment for regional integration and development of the sub-region.

Smuggling of Migrants (SOM) and Trafficking in Persons (TIP) are transnational security threats affecting citizens, communities/society and states negatively. Both human trafficking and smuggling are complex process that involve different stages at origin, transit and destination. In the IGAD region, often smuggling constitutes trafficking in some stages, particularly in borders, transits and sometime in destinations. TIP/SOM often involve other forms of criminal activities in recruiting, transporting, border crossing and flow of illicit finances including breaching immigration laws, forgery of document, rape, sexual assault, bodily injury, torture, kidnapping, money laundering and so on. SOM/TIP criminals operate in a loosely connected/organized clandestine groups and individuals. The criminal modes remain ever changing and adapting to law enforcement responses that require innovative law enforcement measures. Relatively, financial flows of the criminal networks remain to a large extent easily traceable that can better serve as a source for effective investigations and further tracing of illicit proceeds of the criminal activities.

The overall objective of the training was to equip trainees with a working knowledge and skills of investigating and prosecuting SOM to strengthen the capacity Member States' law enforcement agencies to enable them effectively bring perpetrators to justice contributing to the overall fighting against illegal migration.

The training was opened by HE Mr. John Kilonzi, Director of Peace and Security in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kenya and Commander Abebe Muluneh, IGAD SSP Director.  Twenty-nine (29) trainees from all IGAD Member States’ relevant institutions participated in the training. Two (2) experts from Nigeria have also participated as expert to share their experiences and learn from the IGAD region, which was also considered a s a starting point to strengthen cooperation between West and East Africa in fighting common security threats. The participants were, but not limited to, crime investigators, criminal intelligence analysts, financial analysts/investigators, prosecutors, investigative judges from relevant authorities particularly the police, anti-human trafficking units, public prosecution, financial intelligence units, attorney general and other competent bodies.

 During the four days, the following themes were thoroughly discussed through presentations, group and practical exercises:

  • Understanding Smuggling of Migrants - Definitions, key concepts and criminalization
  • Comparative analysis of SOM and TIP – differences, similarities and overlaps;
  • Forms and methods of migrant smuggling and the roles of various actors in the process of SOM
  • Identification and protection of migrants
  • Elements and characteristics the offense of SOM and related criminal conducts;
  • Techniques of investigation and prosecution supported by case studies and exercises

 The training was successfully concluded on August 10, 2019.

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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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