Enhancing Security Sector Accountability and Professionalism in Africa Through Civilian Oversight: A Review of Legal and Institutional Frameworks.
19 Pages Posted: 1 May 2018 Last revised: 26 May 2018
Date Written: April 9, 2018
Democratic control of the military, the process by which elected officials exercise command and control over the military, is a well-established principle across Africa as it is across the world. It constitutes one important component of civilian oversight, a process by which citizens — either directly or indirectly through elected and appointed leaders — hold the security sector to account in relation to execution of their mandates, management of resources and commitments to the respect of human rights. While adherence to best practices in terms of financial governance and respect for human rights are integral to building accountable and professional security sectors on the continent, — and effective civilian oversight is key to achieving these goals —, experience shows that the record in practice is patchy at best and in some cases entirely absent. A majority of states lack the essential elements of civilian oversight including relevant mechanisms and procedures. Indeed, due to a lack of effective civilian oversight, a majority of security sectors in Africa are bedeviled by multiple problems: failure to entrench proper financial governance practices which exposes the sector to corruption; many are often implicated in egregious human rights violations both at home and in peacekeeping operations (PKOs), and; some exhibit low levels of professionalism marked by inefficiency and ineffectiveness in the delivery on their mandates of securing their citizens. To build accountable, able, efficient and professional security sectors, it is necessary to embrace and strengthen civilian oversight beyond the recognition of the principle of democratic/civilian control. This paper outlines and discusses the legal and institutional frameworks for civilian oversight of the security sector (special focus on military) across all legal systems in Africa-English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. It sketches the essentials for civilian oversight and makes policy re commendations on how security sector professionalism and accountability can be enhanced through oversight.
Keywords: civilian oversight, accountability, PKOs, human rights, military, police, intelligence, inspector general
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