SIGNIFICANCE OF COLLECTIVE SECURITY IN THE MANO RIVER UNION SUB-REGION (THE ROLE OF RSLAF A CASE STUDY)
1. As West Africa is facing threats such as proliferation of small arms and light weapons, piracy, kidnapping, insurgency and terrorism from terrorist groups such as Boko Haram, Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb. The tendencies to spread wild like fire during the Harmattan season and to different countries in the sub-region of Mano River union is a must. Because of that, the army of Sierra Leone RSLAF is tasked with the utmost responsibility to secure and maintain or defend the territorial integrity of Sierra Leone against external aggression and internal insurrection through the Mano River Union (MRU) an organization in the sub-west African region.
2. The Intergovernmental Organization Mano River Union was founded on 3 October 1973 by the presidents of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Republic of Guinea and Ivory Coast respectively under the Melema declaration. It is fascinating to note that the organization was named after the River Mano which serves the neutral and well known boundary between the member states.
The aim of founding this organization was to strengthen and to capacitate member states to form the Sub-west African region into one whole. This union looks to include the different economies and to synchronize growth in areas such as peace building, bilateral trade promotion, industrial development, electricity power generation, agriculture, natural resources, transportations, telecommunication, monetary and business of any kind that are legal in all aspects of the economic and social life of the member states. To move further with this paper, knowing the definition of collective security is Key. Collective security can be easily be broken into two parts, whereby this idea of security can be viewed as prevention of any form of conflict that could affect the current state of peace on any level. Collective on the other hand, is seen as more than one states acting together to maintain this, through the means of agreeing and adhering to certain set of rules. Therefore, I could draw the assumption that the combination of both of these would lead to the understanding that collective security is any multilateral arrangement or action taken in the name of defence, peace and morality.
3. This paper seeks to present the significance of collective security strategies in the MRU; the role RSLAF has been playing since the organization was found in the early 1970s to present. The paper will take a look at the mandates of the MRU, it functions and how the RSLAF have been acting in peace building, stability and security in Sierra Leone and around the Mano River Union Communities.
4. The aim of this paper is to clearly outline the role of the RSLAF in the collective security of the Mano River Union basin in a view to making recommendations.
5. Mandate. Over the years since the union was formed, there have been several meetings been held in the interest of it member states. Not too long ago, in May 2008 Heads of state and government of the Union took a decision to recuperate the Union. The secretariat of the MRU was consequently mandated on the May summit to pursue the rivalry, socio-economic development, and integration of the sub-region within the framework of four pillars which are institutional, revitalization and restructuring with emphasis on the Union Secretariat and public sector of the member states and there are strategic plans been put together to deal with all matters related to the pillars.
6. Functions. The following are some of the functions of the Union:
a. MRU upholds the initiation of dialogue at all levels concerning its member states for the purpose of achieving greater unity and cohesion, and stimulating goodwill, neighboring collaboration and peaceful co-existence amongst its people, promoting peace, security, democratic principles and popular participation of citizens in the pursuit of good governance.
b. MRU makes recommendation to member states for certain action to be taken and can also give directives to the secretariat and other subordinate institutions.
7. Achievements. Some of the recent achievements of the MRU are:
a. Harmonizing approaches for tackling Ebola-type threats especially emanating from the border zones or of a cross-border nature, in achieving the state of zero new infections.
b. Instituting policies, actions and programs to correct weaknesses at the sub-regional level that have been revealed by the outbreak and which are essential for rebuilding a more resilient sub region.
c. Highlighting current or planned initiatives within the MRU that could be re-prioritized to buttress the regional recovery efforts.
d. Implementing programs that mitigate the impacts of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Crisis on the affected population in the sub-region affected States.
e. Ensuring restoration of basic education services delivery system and building resilience in post-EVD MRU States, and strengthening regional integration and building on National experiences in the fight against the EVD to develop a more proactive regional system that responds appropriately to future occurrences.
f. The establishment of Joint Border Security and Confidence Building Units (JBSCBUs) between or among adjacent border communities.
g. Implementation of the first pilot project of the JBSCBUs initiative and the presentation of the findings and recommendations to the Joint Security Commission.
8. Significance of collective security. Collective security is system by which states have attempted to prevent or stop wars. Under a collective security arrangement, an aggressor against any one state is considered an aggressor against all other states, which act together to repel the aggressor. Collective security arrangements have always been conceived as being global in scope; this is in fact a defining characteristic, distinguishing them from regional alliances such as the MRU. Both the ECOWAS and the African Union were founded on the principle of collective security.
9. Challenges of collective security.
a. In todays world, a threat to one is a threat to all which is why globalization is trying to let the world at large know that a major extremist or revolutionary attack anywhere in the industrialized world would have overwhelming consequences for the well-being of millions in the developing world. Anyone of the estimated 700 million international airline passengers for every year can be an unwitting carrier of a deadly infectious disease. And the erosion of the state capacity anywhere in across the globe weakens the protection of every state against transnational threats such as terrorism and organized crime. Every state requires international cooperation to make it secure. But one of the major challenges of collective security is that member states must be more committed to raise funding for example funds for the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Standby Force (ESF) operation.
b. Because of the understanding between member states of collective security treaty, there will be some amount of flexibility at the border areas. Security of the various crossing points can be compromise and a threat may come to a national from external or internal insurgency group to disrupt the peace within the country or in a neighboring country.
c. Poaching, proliferation of short guns and illicit mining activities within our common boundaries will increase.
d. Youth activities like drug, human trafficking and smuggling will be on the increase.
e. Training standardization and evaluation of all troops serving within the Sub-region is also another key challenge when it comes to collective security.
THE REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE ARMED FORCES (RSLAF)
10. Mission. The RSLAFS primary role and mission is to defend the life and properties of Sierra Leonean and its territorial integrity against external aggressors. To achieve this, the RSLAF needs sufficient forces to secure Sierra Leones borders, land area and territorial waters.
11. Role in the MRU.
a. Internal operations – Joint RSLAF/SLP (FBP/FOB). These are standing operations conducted to secure our borders and territorial waters jointly by the RSLAF and the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) at the Forward Patrol Base (FPB) or in Forward Observation Base (FOB). It involves armed border presence; and robust internal and border patrolling.
b. The RSLAF has participated in peace support operations (PSOs) as far back as in 1991 and 1998, the RSLAF contributed troops under the Economic Community Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) initiative to bring peace to neighboring Liberia which is a member state of the MRU. Three successive battalions were rotated during that period. The first contingent was among the force that prevented Charles Taylor from taking over Monrovia. The last contingent returned home after the 1997 AFRC Coup.
c. RSLAF also provides Standby force and training for PSO takes place at the Peace Mission Training Centre (PMTC) at Hastings.
d. Training of officers from the Mano River countries for example junior staff course and Intermediate staff course at the Horton Academy in Freetown.
e. The RSLAF is there also to ensure effective border security and management throughout Sierra Leones porous borders.
f. RSLAF is trying also to develop the capacity to intercept, disrupt, and deny undesirable aliens entry into Sierra Leone.
12. Challenges on border security.
a. The creation of plans for managing the border during crises.
b. The integration of planning and coordination among border security entities.
d. The coordination of border security with comprehensive immigration and border management policies. Effective border management requires more than capability to intercept illicit cargo and people. It also requires understanding how measures put in place for security affect how goods and people move across our borders.
e. Strengthening of access control at all recognized points of entry to and from Sierra Leone is also another challenge.
13. What can be seen with the MRU is that they have been able to partially articulate this idea of collective security into its aims in its mandate. Collective security in the Mano River Union sub-region has been very helpful in maintaining the initiation of dialogue at all levels between its member states for the purpose of achieving greater unity and solidarity and also methods for tackling Ebola-type threats especially emanating from the border zones or of a cross-border nature, in achieving the state of zero new infections. (Paragraphs 6 and 7)
14. One key factor in coordinating border security activities is the implementation and management policies at the different borders. Effective border management requires more than capability to intercept illicit cargo and people. It cannot be done without putting measures in place for security to affect how goods imported or being exported and the migration of people across our borders. (Paragraph 11)
15. The role of Republic of Sierra Leone Armed forces in the sub-region as part of collective security institution can be trace as far as in the early 90s were we saw its second participation in peace keeping operation in Liberia. (Paragraph 12)
16. To continue the methods for tackling diseases like Ebola-type threats especially emanating from the border zones or of a cross-border nature, it is recommended that MRU JBSCBUs support the establishment of public health units (PHU) with health workers from members states to surveillance the border. These PHUs will serve also as data bases or repositories of vital information that can be used to design proposals on how to popularize and integrate the concept of the JBSCBUs into the Security Mechanism of the Member States. Member States should also be well informed about the JBSCBUs, taking the JBSCBUs into national policies with mechanisms of monitoring and evaluation that has been identified. Border units can operational and efficient with data base on the functioning of border units established. (Paragraphs 6 and 7)
17. I believe with the establishment of the JBSCBUs there are policies on how they operate at the various crossing points. In order to institute the correct measures in tackling the illegal movement of people and goods across the borders, it is recommended that the deployment of state securities or border guards at the various crossing points and the continuity of the joint RSLAF/SLP (FBP/FOB) patrol/operations continue to reign in securing our borders and territorial waters. (Paragraph 11)
18. There is a common saying that says in time of war, you prepare for peace and in time of peace you prepare for war
War like activities and political instabilities are common in the sub-region. Therefore, to combat such it is recommended that continuous joint forces training be held if possible every year in order for the member states armies to have greater ideas of the strategies that are being used in collective security within the MRU sub-region in order to intercept, disrupts, or deny undesirable dissident or insurgent group into Sierra Leone through it boundaries. (Paragraph 12)
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