The government and the people of The Gambia aspire to reform the security sector following a comprehensive assessment to identify the gaps and malfunctions that beset the security sector inherited by the new administration.
A critical finding of the assessment indicated the need for the heads of the institutions to benefit from sharing experiences with regional counterparts and beyond on security sector governance. This forms part of efforts to build capacity for the service chiefs and public management, oversight, monitoring and control bodies, in order to ensure an effective reform. In this regard, the Office of National Security (ONS), in collaboration with Ecowas and the UNDP Country Office (Gambia) facilitated a study visit of the Heads of the Security Sector institutions to Ghana for 8 days in the 4th quarter of 2019.
The primary objective of the study visit to Ghana was to enhance capacity of national institutions and their key staff in order to avail them an opportunity to share experiences and benefit from lessons learned from their Ghanaian counterparts in the areas of rule of law and security sector governance. Four priority areas of analysis were considered during the study visit to Ghana: Presentation on Security Sector Reforms; The Ghanaian Experience;National Security Architecture;Experiences from other security institutions and lessons;Current Security Challenges.
The official opening of the study tour was held at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) and attended by Bryan Acheampong, Minister of State for National Security, among other dignitaries. The minister alluded to the shared history of Ghana and The Gambia and explained the concession on the part of the government of Ghana in designing a program for The Gambian delegation to visit analogous institutions to learn and share experiences on security sector reforms. Thirteen analogous security institutions were visited altogether, including Ghana Armed Forces, Ghana Police Service, Narcotics Control Board, Ghana Fire Service among others.
Conceptual issues that pose a challenge to the SSR discourse in our sub-region were discussed in all the security institutions visited by The Gambia delegation. The capacity enhancement tour was closed with a symposium, which served to stimulate debate on the destabilising influences that impede the progress of nationally owned SSR processes, one of which was cited as international and bilateral partners through their support, mirroring practices that are not tailored to national realities. The emphasis was to “brew SSR in The Gambian pot,” with the change in the old Gambian constitution regarded as the first line of reform. Drawing from Ghana’s recent experience, it was agreed that the formulation of policies/strategies and institutional arrangements of the Government should guide the SSR process.
Constitutionalism and institutionalism, with respect to SSR can help build institutions that are resilient based not only on traditional security but also on human security. Balancing state security, regime security and human security would shift the status quo towards the ideal security that is desirable to our people.