Hon. National Security Advisor,
Members of the Office of the President,
SSR Steering Committee,
Representatives of civil society and the media,
Ladies and gentlemen,
“A security sector that is effective, efficient, apolitical, affordable, accountable, transparent and responsive to the security and justice needs of the people based on democratic norms and principles”
These are not my words, they are vision laid out in the Security Sector strategy, and it is what we strive towards.
Since the reestablishment of democracy at the beginning of 2017, the EU has mobilised to assist The Gambia in reforming the national security sector, from Budget support allocated directly to the State of Gambia, to the financing of ECOMIG’s mission.
The use of the EU Crisis response component, called the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (ICSP), has also been instrumental to support the reform process. With the mobilisation of EUR 1.5 million, the EU has financed the project “Support to the SSR process in The Gambia” implemented by the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance, – although we all know them as DCAF.
During 20 months, DCAF has worked hard to help laying the foundations for a meaningful participation of all actors for an inclusive SSR process. Today’s event is the last one of this project, so let me take this opportunity to share some of its achievements.
DCAF’s worked on civilian oversight worked on:
- Supporting the Defence and Security Standing Committee of the National Assembly, including on their task of budget scrutiny, culminating at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Ghana,
- Working with civil society and the media on their plans to engage with SSR,
- Through the organisation of high events, where we discussed the links between SSR and different topic, including transitional justice and gender – where I was lucky enough to witness security representatives and civil society questioning the fundamental dynamics of the SSR process.
DCAF, with this EU financial support, has also participated, along with other international actors, to the progress made these last months at a policy and strategic level, through a support to the drafting of the National Security Policy, the National Security Strategy and the Security Sector Strategy. Likewise, DCAF’s support for the drafting of the legislation governing the intelligence services participated to The Gambia’s efforts to ensure that key security institutions are regulated by and operate in compliance with international norms and standards.
Last but not least, DCAF also conducted three important surveys in order to collect and collate information on the security sector in the country. In order for institutions or governments to evaluate alternatives and make informed choices they must have reliable and timely data. This type of resource can particularly help support policy and programmatic decisions with regard to the SSR process, including institutional-level reforms. In a few minutes, DCAF will present the main findings of these 3 surveys, as follows:
- Survey on gender in the security sector in The Gambia: the objective of this survey was to provide to the Gambian government, security institutions, as well as all international and national partners involved in the SSR process, up-to-date and detailed information on the extent to which gender is currently integrated in the security sector of The Gambia.
- Population-based perception survey: the aim was to assess the perception of Gambians regarding security and justice matters, such as citizen’s perspectives, views, experiences and priorities related to safety, crime, as well as security and justice actors and the SSR reform process itself.
- The Human Resources assessment of the security institutions: the objective was to provide deep understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the existing security and defence institutions and their personnel in order to decide on how to reorganise the security sector and reshape the workforce according to a new vision of security in The Gambia.
Most key security institutions, notably Police, Immigration and Army, provided DCAF with access to requested information for the purpose of the human resources assessment and the gender survey. We hope that these institutions, and more generally all the institutions coordinating the SSR process will make full use of these very rich documents to engage in reform leading to structural, operational, legal and behavioural changes.
Despite all these good will and strong efforts, the road is long and the SSR process is only starting. This DCAF project is closing activities, but EU support to the process will go on and engagement will be renewed through 3 priorities:
- Support at central level to help empower, capacitate, and support national institutions that have an oversight and coordination mandate of the broader security sector. This includes engagement and support to the Office of National Security (ONS), Ministry of Finance, and Ministry of Justice as the lead agency in coordination of the overall SSR efforts.
- Support to an institution to address the underlying efficiency, effectiveness and accountability challenges experienced. This target institution should be selected in consultation with national authorities and should consider the following criteria: commitment and willingness to reform, demonstrated need for reform, and Government priorities.
- Support to civilian oversight: The EU will aim to keep providing support to strengthen external oversight of the security sector, with a view to ensuring that there are sufficient capacities in place by external oversight bodies to monitor, investigate and hold to account security sector institutions for both conduct and performance.
It is time for visible reforms that are genuinely participatory and that are felt by the Gambian people. We can take inspiration from TRRC and CRC, albeit with the sensitivity of the SSR in mind, to make sure that SSR does not remain a matter for security forces and experts. It should be owned by the population in order to provide them with the change they voted for in December 2016.
As for the European Union, our commitment must be measured by more than just the Euros and Dalasis we spend. The true sign of success is not whether we are a source of aid that helps people scrape by – it is whether we are partners in building the capacity for transformational change.
We firmly believe that this is the moment for transformational change for the security sector in The Gambia – and that if this country manages to transform from an abusive security system into one that respects and protects human rights – we can call the Gambian transition a success story.
Then can be no development without security.
Then can be no development without an effective, efficient, apolitical, affordable, accountable, and transparent security sector.
You all have a role to play.