Civilians urged to join SADC Standby Force
By Mpho Tebele
Gaborone – Civilian experts across the region have been urged to join the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Standby Force Civilian Roster for Peace Support Operations.
The SADC Standby Force Planning Element Chief of Staff Brigadier Michael Mukokomani said this when addressing a group of civilian experts in Botswana during a SADC SF Civilian Component awareness raising workshop in Gaborone last week.
He noted that it is common course that when most people think of Peace Support Operations (PSOs), they think of the military and at times police personnel.
However, Mukokomani said, 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, it is equally important during peace support operations to also manage the political, social and economic aspects of a peace process.
“The political and socio-economic aspects of the peace process are thus managed by the civilians, and therefore, over the years there has been a transformation from military to civilian-led multidimensional Peace Support Operations,” said Mukokomani.
The workshop was organized by the SADC Secretariat/SADC SF PLANELM to raise awareness among civilian experts in Botswana on the role of civilians in Peace Support Operations and to encourage participants to apply to become members of the SADC SF Civilian Roster.
This is done in order to ensure the full operationalisation of the civilian component and the availability of civilian experts to the SADC Standby Force capacity.
The SADC SF Civilian Roster is a component of an integrated Civilian Roster of the African Standby Force (ASF) known as the African Standby Capacity (ASC) which was developed by the Africa Union (AU) in collaboration with Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Regional Mechanisms (RMs).
The ASC is a recruitment tool to enable rapid deployment of civilian experts to Peace Support Operations once the missions are mandated, either by the SADC Summit or the African Union.
The roster is being populated with civilian experts from different professions which are most relevant to a multi¬ dimensional PSO, such as civil affairs, political affairs, legal affairs, public information, human rights, gender, and humanitarian relief liaison to name a few.
At the workshop, participants had an insight of the role of civilians in peace support operations and the opportunity to appreciate the benefits of joining the ASC/SADC Standby Force Roster.
Presentations and discussions at the workshops centered on issues pertaining to the concept of a Standby Force with emphasis on the civilian capability; PSO structures at the strategic, mission and operational Levels; rostering processes; and rostering and training linkage.
The workshop drew participants from different government ministries, institutions and non-state actors such as the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation and the Botswana Council of Non- Governmental Organizations. At the end of the workshop, more than 15 civilian experts expressed interest and committed themselves to apply for the roster membership.
The SADC Standby Force was established through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the SADC Heads of States and Government in Lusaka, Zambia in 2007.
The force is a multi-dimensional entity comprising the military, police and civilian components.
Its main function is to participate in peace support missions as envisaged in Article 13 of the Protocol Establishing the Peace and Security Council of the African Union under the Framework of the African Peace and Security Architecture and African Standby Force.
The workshop is among a series that the SADC Secretariat is intending to conduct in all SADC member states in 2017 in order to strengthen and ensure readiness of the civilian component of the SADC SF. So far, the Secretariat has conducted similar workshops in Malawi and Tanzania.