The need for peace and security, and economic and social development through regional integration are the reasons that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was established in 1992.

The Southern African region has for decades been developing and strengthening regional cooperation in the Defence Sector. It is this cooperation that underpinned the establishment of the Inter-State Defence and Security Committee (ISDSC) in 1977, which is a forum for defence, and security co-operation. The Inter-State Defence and Security Committee played a crucial role in the liberation struggles against colonial and racist regimes and in the maintenance of the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Member States.

The Protocol, Plan and Mutual Defence Pact

The Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation states that it is desirous to ensure that close cooperation on matters of politics, defence and security shall at all times promote the peaceful settlement of disputes by negotiation, conciliation, mediation or arbitration. Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation provides for regional intervention in the case of intrastate conflict, but only for purposes of mediation, and does not provide for military assistance.

Article 3 of the Mutual Defence Pact 2003 states that: “State Parties shall, in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, settle any international dispute in which they may be involved, by peaceful means, in such a manner that regional and international peace, security and justice are enhanced.” Article 6 goes on to say that “An armed attack against a State Party shall be considered a threat to regional peace and security and such an attack shall be met with immediate collective action.”

By signing the Mutual Defence Pact Member States agreed to:

  • SEEKING to promote peace, security, stability and well-being among our peoples;
  • DETERMINED to defend and safeguard the freedom of our peoples and their civilisation, as well as their individual liberties and the rule of law;
  • CONVINCED  that close cooperation in matters of defence and security will be to the mutual benefit of our peoples;
  • HAVING RESOLVED to unite our efforts towards collective self-defense and the preservation of peace and stability.

The Harmonised Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ (II) alongside the SADC Mutual Defence Pact 2003 guides the implementation of the Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation. The Harmonised Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ (II) identifies seven objectives related to improved politics and diplomacy in the SADC region for the period 2010-2015:

Objective 1: Protect people of the region against instability arising from conflict.

Objective 2: Promote regional co-ordination and cooperation in defence and security.

Objective 3: Enforcement action in accordance with international law.

Objective 4: Consider the development of a collective security capacity, and conclude the Mutual Defence Pact.

Objective 5: Observe and implement international treaty obligations (UN and AU).

Objective 6: Develop peacekeeping capacity, and co-ordinate participation.

Objective 7: Enhance disaster management capacity; co-ordinate international humanitarian assistance.

In a bid to ensure effective conduct of peace and support operations in the region, SADC has strengthened the Regional Peacekeeping and Training Centre in Zimbabwe to cover all components of SADC Security Forces. At international levels many SADC Member states have continued to contribute to the United Nations and African Union Peace Support Operations.


Notwithstanding the achievements stated above, the region still faces a number of challenges, which impact on the defence sector. These include:

  • Armed conflicts within Member States
  • Terrorism
  • HIV and AIDS
  • Developing policies and capacities to ensure that the region maintains trained units ready to be deployed in peace support operations in the region or under the auspices of the African Union or the United Nations;Developing a regional capacity on defence technology
  • The clearance of landmines and Unexploded Ordinances (UXOs)
  • Responding to external aggression
  • The reintegration of ex-combatants and rehabilitation of child soldiers
  • Implementing the doctrine that will enable the inter-operability of the Defence Forces
  • Disaster relief support capability
  • The proliferation of and illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons
  • Illegal migration
  • Maritime piracy
  • Any other threats