Gaborone, Botswana – 12 December 2016: In a quest to strengthen and fully operationalise the Civilian Component of the SADC Standby Force, the SADC Secretariat held the first ever Civilian Component Awareness Raising Workshop for SADC Organ Focal Points at the Cresta Lodge Hotel in Gaborone, Botswana on 12-13 December 2016.
The workshop was attended by representatives from the Governments of Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. In attendance also were representatives from non-state actors, namely the SADC Parliamentary Forum, and SADC Electoral Commission Forum. Other relevant stakeholders who participated in the workshop included representatives from the African Union (AU), East African Standby Force (EASF), the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), SADC Regional Peacekeeping Training Centre (RPTC) and GIZ.
In his opening remarks, on behalf of the Executive Secretary, the Director of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Affairs, Mr. Jorge C. Cardoso highlighted that civilians play very important roles in Peace Support Operations and thus over the years there has been a transformation from military to civilian-led multidimensional operations. The Director further emphasized that while it is true that security personnel play an important role in most peace operations and that security is a necessary part of peace operations, the civilian component is equally important in managing the political, social, cultural and economic aspects of a peace process. In this regard, there is a need to strengthen the civilian component of the SADC Standby Force.
Article 3 of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the SADC Heads of States and Government in Lusaka, Zambia in 2007 to established the SADC Standby Force provides for a standby force that consists of military, police and civilian components. The MoU defines the civilian component as “all civilian personnel including the Special Representative of the Mandating Authority and a range of substantive civilian experts in a mission area.”
The Workshop was therefore held to raise awareness among Member States and non-state actors on the activities of the Civilian Component of the SADC Standby Force in order to ensure that they are fully involved in the activities aimed at strengthening and fully operationalising the component. Participants had an insight of the role of civilians in Peace Support Operations; and the opportunity to appreciate the achievements and challenges of the SADC SF Civilian Component.
At the conclusion of the workshop it was agreed that in order to ensure the success of the Civilian Component at both the Planning Element (PLANELM) and Mission levels, each country will appoint National Focal Point (NFP) officer that will be responsible for the SADC SF Civilian Component affairs. Furthermore, Member States committed to identify potential experts to be included in the roster; coordinate the SADC SF civilian activities and implement the reviewed Draft SADC Standby Force Civilian Rostering Manual, once it is approved by the relevant structures during the course of 2017.