Peace and Security: The centrepiece of integration
Peace is a prerequisite for development and there can be no peace without development. For southern Africa, political stability has become a rallying point for closer co-operation and means towards attaining the overall regional objective of poverty eradication.
The lynchpin for the economic, political and social goals articulated in the various SADC protocols and treaties is the ability to ensure a peaceful and stable region.
As a result, security remains high on the regional agenda, as demonstrated in the proliferation of declarations, treaties and protocols aimed at preventing and containing conflict.
The generally stable political environment in SADC has created conditions for sustained economic growth and improved food security for the region during the past few years.
Peace and security in the region, coupled with the adoption of appropriate agricultural policies, have transformed SADC from a food deficit region to a net food producer during the past decade.
SADC has undergone complex and challenging institutional restructuring efforts during the past two decades to ensure that peace and security is achieved and maintained in the region.
A key element of the restructuring that has taken place within SADC since 1992 was the formulation and adoption of the socio-economic and political frameworks such as the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) and the Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation (SIPO).
The objective of SIPO is to create a stable political and security environment through which the region can endeavour to realise its socio-economic objectives.
SIPO provides the institutional framework for the implementation of activities of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, which was established in June 1996.
The Organ plays a vanguard role as an institutional mechanism for promoting and maintaining peace and stability in the region, and facilitates regular consultations among member states on matters of mutual interest.
Security-related agreements adopted by SADC include a Protocol on the Control of Firearms, Ammunition and Other Related Materials, and a Protocol on Combating of Illicit Drugs, as well as the agreement on establishing a regional standby force, and a Mutual Defence Pact among some member states.
The SADC Standby Force was officially launched at the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government in Lusaka on August 17, 2007.
It was formed to build the capacity of African armed forces to intervene and resolve conflicts throughout the continent without undue interference from external parties who may not understand the complexities of the conflict.
It also brings the idea of the African Standby Force a step closer.
Consisting of military, police and civilian components, the force will rely on resources pledged by member states on a standby arrangement.
A regional force that draws troops and resources from all member states ensures the burden of conflict resolution does not fall heavily on any one state. It also gives credibility to interventions, and increases the likelihood of success as troop rotation can occur more regularly with the larger standby force in place.
The mandate of the SADC Standby Force is fairly wide and covers:
• Observation and monitoring missions;
• Peace Support Operations (PSOs);
• Interventions at the request of a member state to restore peace and security;
• Preventative deployment (in order to
stop the escalation of a conflict, or to
prevent a conflict from spilling over into
• Peace-building in a post-conflict
situation (including disarmament and
• Humanitarian missions in aid of
civilians (conflict or natural disaster
• Any other functions as may be authorised
by the SADC Summit.
The SADC Standby Force comprises three distinct components – military, police and civilian.
The regional military, police and civilian staff on secondment to SADC from contributing member states are on rotation in Gaborone, Botswana, while the troops and personnel for the SADC Standby Force.
The Planning Element (PLANELM) is an autonomous organisation that is not intended to be incorporated into the SADC Force structure during actual missions.
It operates on a daily basis as a tool of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation and receives its guidance from the SADC Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff and the Committee of SADC Police Chiefs. Its authority is drawn from the Organ and the SIPO.
The SADC Regional Peacekeeping Training Centre (SADC RPTC) based in Harare, Zimbabwe, is a regional training centre within the framework of the SADC peacekeeping capacity-building.
It provides ongoing military, police and civilian training for citizens of member states to facilitate their active participation in United Nations and African Union peace support operations, with contributions ranging from military observers, civilian police and logistics, and peacekeepers.
In addition, a significant number of civilians are serving in AU and UN operations on an individually recruited basis.
The main aim of the SADC RPTC is to offer studies in the theory and practice of Peace Support Operations, and to co-ordinate peace support training in the SADC region as mandated by the Organ. – The Peace Trainer
*The Peace Trainer is a magazine produced by the SADC Regional Peace Training Centre