How is IGAD getting serious about security?
Imagine a scenario where unauthorised persons are able to freely acquire or use weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or the materials required to produce them. Preventing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons from spreading is a major security and developmental issue for Africa and for IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) states, given the dramatic consequences if such weapons were to be used.
Specific measures for states to combat and curb such weapons are set out in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 and other mechanisms – including the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention.
On 14 and 15 September, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) hosted a closed workshop for states on this issue, in partnership with the IGAD Secretariat and the African Union (AU) Commission.
The opening remarks and first session of the workshop were open to the public and members of the media and were faciliated by Nicolas Kasprzyk, an ISS consultant. Opening remarks were made by:
- Peter Aling’o, Head, ISS Nairobi
- Abebe Beyene, Director, Security Sector Programme, IGAD Secretariat
- Einas Osman Abdalla Mohamed, Senior Policy Officer, Peace and Security Department, AU Commission
- H.E. Christian Turner, British High Commissioner to Kenya
The workshop promoted and raised awareness of the relevant international instruments and shared effective practices. Chairs and speakers represented a broad range of states and organisations:
- States: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, as well as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
- International, regional and sub-regional organisations and other arrangements: 1540 Committee Group of Experts, Australia Group, IGAD Secretariat, AU Commission, BWC Implementation Support Unit, UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, as well as the European Union.
- Academia and the private sector: ISS, International Security and Communications Ltd, Verification Research, Training and Information Centre.
Some of the interconnected challenges highlighted during discussions include:
- Implementing resolution 1540 and other international instruments at the national level often takes place in silos and results in efforts being duplicated, implementation gaps and loss of already constrained financial, human, technical and legal resources.
- Limited knowledge, education, outreach and awareness on issues relating to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) materials restrict capacities and mechanisms for implementing projects and programmes.
- Competing national developmental and security priorities.
- Porous borders, which serve as transit corridors for imports and exports.
- Insufficient capacities and equipment for detecting and identifying CBRN materials.
African states are making steady progress to overcome these challenges. This is reflected in the steps taken by relevant stakeholders, including:
- Training and capacity building.
- Developing and implementing national action plans and establishing national authorities.
- Creating initiatives and mechanisms to involve the private sector.
- Developing curricula related to CBRN safety and security at the tertiary education level.
- Developing and implementing national legislation and policies, which directly help member states build their capacities to enhance existing security efforts in the IGAD sub-region.
Workshop participants agreed that better cooperation between states, international organisations, the private sector, civil society and academia is needed to address emerging transnational security threats related to CBRN issues. There is also a need to enhance capacity building in the sub-region.
As a result of discussions of the workshop, the IGAD Secretariat announced that it would report to the 1540 Committee on activities related to resolution 1540 and other non-proliferation instruments in the near future.
Click here to download the Workshop Agenda