To preserve Southern Africa’s relative peace in the face of rising challenges and threats, Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states must collectively reinforce its peace and security architecture.
Implementing Peace and Security Architecture (II): Southern Africa, the latest International Crisis Group report, examines the weaknesses that hinder SADC from effectively dealing with rising threats to regional peace and security, including maritime security and piracy and socio-economic unrest. The reluctance of its member states to cede greater authority to a centralised structure and the lack of capacity of its Secretariat compromise the potential success of its endeavours.
“SADC member states have shown more willingness for economic than political integration”, says Trevor Maisiri, Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for Southern Africa. “But regional security cooperation requires genuine commitment to harmonise national policies at the regional level”.
Recent interventions by SADC in Madagascar and Zimbabwe have exposed several weaknesses, such as limited capacity to follow through on agreements it brokered. A fragmented approach and the lack of a common policy hinder regional security cooperation. The same applies to the foreign partnerships concluded by each country, which pursue competing interests.
In order to strengthen the SADC conflict resolution structures, member states should grant greater support to the Secretariat, for example by providing for proper resources to the mediation unit, and by a greater involvement of civil society, non-governmental organisations and academics in the regional early warning system. The competences of the Standby Force need to be reinforced, notably through the inclusion of a civilian component, in order to build its capacities in humanitarian and natural disasters crisis management.
The development of regional cooperation requires the establishment and implementation of a common security policy to align national security institutions towards a common system. SADC member states should also coordinate international partnerships through existing thematic structures.
“Compared to other challenges on the continent, Southern Africa is regarded as relatively peaceful”, says Piers Pigou, Crisis Group’s Southern Africa Project Director. “This affords it an important opportunity to build and consolidate its peace and security capacity”.