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Giving Security a Human Face: the Protection of State Info Bill of RSA

Started by Dennis Thokozani DLOMO. Last reply by Dennis Thokozani DLOMO Jan 28, 2012. 1 Reply

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Comment by Isioma Kemakolam on January 9, 2010 at 12:31am
SSR for me is an important area that is gianing increasing attention round the world. Depending on the context, we may want to view it in different ways. I think its time we stop demanding from the government or pointing accusing fingers by way of mounting litigations against the authorities e.g. police for human rights abuses or misconduct. This is not to say that i support thier excesses but i feel It is time to look in wards and see how we can contribute through our skills and knowledgea to improving the sector especially the Police. We know that the link between security and human rights is the state. An efficient and effective police service is a clear and direct expressions of the social contract between the citizens and the state. Hence we can not over rule the role civilian oversight bodies play in SSR. I think our focus should be on improving public access to this oversight bodies so as to enhance public sense of ownership to security institutions rather than seeing it as an instrument of violence and oppression.
Comment by Dennis Thokozani DLOMO on September 10, 2008 at 11:13am
First, I would like to wish you and all Members of the Network a Happy Ethiopian New Year which is held each year on 11 September. Many happy returns. Since its New Year's eve, let me take some time to reflect on your thinking on the matter. I think we should moderate the language a bit to enable the free flow of ideas. Name calling may just impede that:) It may be hot air indeed from your perspective but some may reflected hard on it for their hard work to be dimissed with such ease may be a little bit unfair:) So I will look up your dissertation to see if I can learn a thing or two before I reply in detail to submission. Happy Neew Yeaarr!!
Comment by SABIITI MUTENGESA on September 8, 2008 at 5:25pm
There are many reasons why I referred to ‘SSR’ as a ‘a can of conceptual worms’ and I think I should share some of those reasons with you, to enable us to at least agree to disagree in the course of what is going to be a protracted discussion.

Right now I am conducting a study in which I attempt to examine many of the frameworks, concepts etc; and mostly jingles, sound bites, clichés, platitudes, buzzwords etc that we have accustomed ourselves to bandying around particularly in reference to questions related to security and development of Sub Saharan Africa. As you know, many of the commonplace and rather glib references to Third world security started bombarding us in the wake of the end of the first Cold War, when certain quarters at last discovered the need for ‘human security’ (one of the rather hollow pieces of hot air) and the need to ‘mainstream’, ‘upscale’, ‘leverage’, ensure ‘buy in’, build capacity’, ensure ‘best practice’ ‘local ownership’ and ‘good governance’ (one of the more facile of the buzzwords) etc etc as you know. Of course so called ‘Security Sector Reform’ falls in that category. I have already carried out a critique of SSR which I will send you in the course of time. It was my MA research paper and I titled it: ‘The Limits of Neo-liberal Reformism: A Critical Reflection on Security Sector Reform in Sub-Saharan Africa’

Some of the questions for you to consider are,

Is security a service (or ‘sector’ or a consumable article, or an ‘industry’ as you state above) or is it an outcome (or state of affairs)?

Can it be provided (as we hear in such consumerist references as ‘provision of security’) or it is ATTAINED through a series of other ‘provisions’?

Can such institutions as defence force, traffic police, border guards, intelligence, customs, justice, and correctional departments (which you list above) be reasonably referred to as the ‘security sector’, or we are safer to keep them like they have always been, as the ‘instruments of coercion’?

If we are to avoid the neoliberal flippancy of rechristening the ‘instruments of coercion’ as the ‘security sector’, would we then not be safer to refer to Instruments of Coercion Sector’ and then subsequently, for those in love of ‘reforming’ them especially in the poor (sic) countries, to instead talk of ‘Instruments of coercion Sector Reform’ (ICSR)?

To restate the previous question, the instruments of state you list above ‘provide’ PHYSICAL SAFETY AND NOT SECURITY. It is for that reason that we probably should refer, either to ICSR - as I suggest above - or to Physical safety Sector Reform or PSSR. Conflating ‘physical safety’ with ‘security’ is as ludicrous as equating a ‘normal blood cell count’ with ‘life’. Like wise, blood transfusion is not life provision. There is a lot more to life (which like security, is an outcome and not a service) than merely having a healthy blood system.

We would be doing constructive debate a tremendous disservice if we argue, as you almost do, that any attempt to query the conceptual anchors of such facile acronyms as SSR, or such glib jingles as ‘good governance’, ‘best practice’ and ‘human security’ and all that, is synonymous to a wish that, insecurity and lack of development should continue to obtain.
Comment by Dennis Thokozani DLOMO on September 1, 2008 at 2:31pm
It has become generally accepted that security is one of the main reasons behing the formation of communities and unltimately the state. The state provides this collective security not just for life, limb and property but also in the social field. The provision of security called for an organisation of the way this service is rendered just like schools have had to be built over time to ensure the systematic and systemic education of people - young and old. The organisation of security led to the development of an "industry" which I prefer to call: a sector of the state. So any government that hopes to deliver this service effectively and efficiently has to ensure the division of labour hence there are departments such as defence force, traffic police, border guards, intelligence, customs, justice, and correctional departments. The process of ensuring the effective governance of these structures and their effectiveness is SSR/G - Security Sector Reform or Governance. Clearly, this function is indispensable for the continued existence of the state and pushing back the frontiers of insecurity faced by people in fragile states. As we speak, though, there is now a consensus among security and development specialists that there can be no democracy, development and peace without security. The pre-requisite for the development of societies today is the existence of security. So, should we see this process only as evangelism: well, it depends how you understand it. If you accept that security is the other side of the development coin, then it should not be difficult to accept that most people in the world desire a better life and are prepared to strive for it. To create an enabling environment is to create space for them to chase their dreams without fear, favour or prejudice. I am ready to be part of such evangelism as it is contributing towards a greater good. However, if evangelism mean self-centred and self-fulfilling quest for opportunities to run workshops and skim money out of countries and governments without the benefit to the general populace, then I would also not support such evangelism. These are my thoughts for now. I am ready to engage further on this subject.
Comment by SABIITI MUTENGESA on August 31, 2008 at 2:40pm
You really want to open that bottomless can of conceptual worms called 'Security Sector Reform' on this network? I surely will join you because I have quite a few bones to pick with SSR evangelism. One time I wanted to start the discussion on the same but I deleted it as soon as I opened it.

How if I start by asking whether according to you, the whole idea of a 'security sector' is not oxymoronic?

NB: first leave aside the 'reform' bit of that distressingly glib acronym; for I wonder why they never thought of referring to ‘re-form’ instead.
 

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