Security Governance Initiative: 2015 Review
Enhancing the transparent, accountable, and legitimate management and oversight of security policy and practice
At the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in August 2014, President Obama launched the Security Governance Initiative (SGI), a multi-year effort with $65 million in initial funding between the United States and partner countries to improve security sector governance and capacity to address threats. SGI partners with countries to undertake strategic and institutional reforms required for governments to tackle key security challenges. Together with our six current partners – Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Tunisia – SGI is making great strides to focus on shared security priorities and enhance security sector management. Each of the six countries has demonstrated partnership with the United States, expressed a desire to strengthen its security sector, and committed to the core elements of the initiative.
SGI’s central objective is to enable partner countries to develop and enhance policies, institutional structures, systems, and processes that allow them to more efficiently, effectively, and responsibly deliver security and justice to their citizens. SGI is not a tactical-level training and equipping program, but rather focuses on supporting partner country efforts to improve the management, oversight, accountability, and sustainability of security sector institutions.
SGI uses Presidential Policy Directive 23 on Security Sector Assistance (PPD-23) as a policy framework to ensure transparency and coordination across the U.S. government, and to help partner countries not only build sustainable capacity to address common security challenges, but also to promote universal values such as good governance. In line with PPD-23, SGI is also designed to share information, expertise, and lessons learned within the U.S. government and beyond to improve other ongoing and potential future security sector assistance.
Approach & Principles
SGI leverages expertise and experience from the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the National Counterterrorism Center. Coordination and collaboration both within the U.S. government and with partner countries is a hallmark of SGI.
The SGI approach is based on the recognition that sustainable solutions to security sector challenges must come from within the country. SGI launches a dialogue between the U.S. government and partner countries to share experiences and sound practices, and identify opportunities to tackle urgent and emerging security challenges, while endorsing principles of good governance.
→ SGI applies a comprehensive, whole-of-government approach, focusing on the systems, processes, and institutions that reinforce democratic security sector governance.
→ SGI conducts joint analyses, shares data, and agrees on goals with partner countries.
→ SGI regularly measures and evaluates progress through consultation and dialogue with security sector stakeholders in partner countries.
→ SGI matches targeted investments with willing partners to strengthen military and civilian institutions.
→ SGI consults with a broad audience, including civil society, international donor partners and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to ensure a thorough understanding of issues and efforts to address security sector governance challenges.
The Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs established an SGI Coordination Office that includes liaison officers from other U.S. government agencies. State also convenes an SGI Working Group to coordinate with the broader SGI interagency community. The SGI Coordination Office closely works with U.S. Embassy country teams in partner countries, which play a critical role in SGI program development and implementation.
Applying PPD-23’s central tenets of transparency and coordination across the U.S. government, the SGI Working Group includes all relevant U.S. government agencies working together to synchronize efforts, reduce redundancies, minimize assistance-delivery timelines, ensure consideration of the full range of policy and operational equities, improve data collection, and measure effectiveness.
National Security Council staff coordinate the interagency to drive implementation and engage senior interagency stakeholders at key decision points.
Phase One - Pre-Consultation Coordination: Before traveling to a partner country for an initial visit, the SGI Office gathers information and organizes briefings with U.S. government and non-governmental country and subject matter experts. The SGI Office also arranges information-sharing and planning sessions with U.S. Embassy country teams to develop a shared understanding of the U.S. interests at stake, discuss the country-specific situation, and identify potential areas for engagement. The partner country assigns a senior SGI Point of Contact, usually in the Office of the President, to coordinate SGI engagement within its government, and provide oversight, access, and visibility to fulfill SGI objectives.
Phase Two - Consultation Visits: Multi-agency U.S. government teams visit SGI partner countries to meet with government representatives, non-governmental stakeholders, and international donors to identify challenges as well as opportunities for SGI to support partner country efforts to improve security and justice institutions. Based on priorities articulated by a partner country, the U.S. government proposes areas for SGI to focus. This identification and framing of requirements by partner countries is essential to the SGI process and will contribute to its success.
Phase Three – Development of Joint Country Action Plan: Once the United States and the partner country agree on the focus areas, the Joint Country Action Plan (JCAP) is developed to define the parameters of the SGI partnership. U.S. and partner country experts jointly conduct an analysis of the challenges and opportunities available in each focus area, to include reviewing any related and parallel activities. These expert teams then articulate the goals for each focus area and recommend activities, required steps, and milestones for achieving desired end states. A Senior SGI Steering Committee, co-chaired by U.S. officials and partner country counterparts, meets to review and approve the analysis and recommendations, and to develop a plan and schedule to monitor SGI activities and review SGI progress. The final JCAP is presented to U.S. and partner country leadership for signature.
Phase Four - JCAP Implementation: Using the JCAP as the roadmap, focus area teams design and implement programs to reach goals through a variety of bilateral engagement such as: technical assistance, mentoring, and workshops. Steering Committees convene periodically to review progress, modify goals as necessary, and agree on next steps.
Outreach contributes greatly to SGI’s success. SGI outreach goals are to: 1) familiarize a wide range of stakeholders with the SGI approach and principles; 2) create opportunities for engagement and dialogue with technical experts to inform SGI analysis and implementation; and 3) coordinate SGI planning and implementation with key stakeholders to foster complementary activities and avoid duplication of efforts.
Key SGI Stakeholders
→ Civil Society Organizations: U.S.-based and SGI country-based think tanks, academics, advocacy groups, and other NGOs possess SGI country and regional expertise. They also have security sector governance subject matter expertise that provides valuable perspectives for SGI planning and programs. SGI leadership hosts information sessions with civil society organizations in Washington to provide updates on SGI progress, while soliciting ideas and support. Interagency delegations also meet with civil society organizations in SGI countries.
→ International Donors: Through consultations and coordination with other international partners in Washington, donor capitals, and SGI countries, SGI seeks to maximize the impact of security sector governance reform efforts by sharing information to ensure complementary activities.
→ Partner Country Representatives in Washington: Regular contact with SGI partner country embassies in Washington provides the opportunity to brief ambassadors on SGI activities, discuss security sector governance challenges, and receive feedback from senior level SGI partner country representatives.
Since its launch in 2014, SGI has tackled challenges and learned from these experiences. The following are key lessons that have shaped SGI thus far.
→ A steadfast commitment is required by partner countries, U.S. government interagency partners, and U.S. embassies for SGI to succeed. Each plays a unique and important role in ensuring appropriate SGI management, coordination and prioritization of efforts, and in identifying opportunities to contribute to long-lasting reforms.
→ Civil society and international donor partners provide a vital perspective. Establishing an SGI community is critical to share best practices and ideas, provide for a more rigorous analysis of security sector governance, and prevent the duplication of efforts.
→ The SGI process has helped both the U.S. government and partner country governments develop whole-of-government strategies and exchange information to address security challenges. PPD-23 provides a useful model for developing U.S. government coordination mechanisms.
→ Defining milestones and measuring results help determine the efficacy of the SGI approach and process. The development of a monitoring and evaluation framework is important to guide SGI implementation and decisions on next steps for country-level engagement, as well as the future of SGI more broadly.
The Government of Ghana (GOG) has signaled its commitment to the SGI process, principles, and partnership, by conducting frank conversations about security sector governance, and proactively organizing inter-ministerial working groups to support the implementation of SGI activities. The SGI-Ghana U.S. Head of Delegation is Ambassador Susan Page.
SGI Engagement: SGI consultations prompted senior inter-ministerial dialogue on critical security governance challenges, sparking candid analysis of interagency processes, responsibilities, and gaps. This yielded an unexpected SGI focus area for Ghana – cyber security and cybercrime. Ghana ranks second in Africa in the number of web-based crimes occurring each year, and many victims are in the United States. The GOG also relies more extensively than many countries in Africa on electronic financial transactions, which if not properly secured are vulnerable to attack. At the GOG’s request, SGI will partner with Ghana to develop clearer authorities to prevent, investigate, and prosecute cybercrime.
Ghana also faces a variety of maritime security and land border management challenges. Offshore, threats undermine safety in its coastal waters as well as hurt prospects for economic development, including piracy, terrorism, oil bunkering (theft), narcotics trafficking, illegal fishing, and environmental degradation. Onshore, enhancing border management is necessary in order to address porous land borders that allow Transnational Criminal Organizations to engage in drug and human trafficking, bulk cash smuggling, and the illicit flow of small arms and light weapons, all of which threatens the safety of the populations around the borders and legitimate trade and commerce. Established in 2002, the Ghana Maritime Authority provides an opportunity for SGI to support improved coordination across Ghanaian agencies responsible for various aspects of maritime security. Similarly, SGI will help the GOG improve land border management by supporting the establishment of an interagency border management group to clearly define the roles, responsibilities, and legal authorities needed to empower border security agencies to ensure appropriate oversight, enforcement, and accountability.
The Government of Kenya (GOK) is enthusiastic about SGI and responded positively to initial outreach efforts. President Uhuru Kenyatta received the head of delegation and U.S. Ambassador to pledge the full support of his government to SGI, and quickly appointed a senior GOK point of contact to facilitate high level discussions on critical security sector governance issues. The progress made to date is due to excellent bilateral collaboration, and proactive steps Kenya has taken to meet desired SGI objectives. Kenya was the first of the SGI partners to finalize a JCAP, which was signed on the margins of President Obama’s visit to Nairobi in July 2015. The SGI-Kenya U.S. Head of Delegation is Ambassador (retired) Pamela Bridgewater.
SGI Engagement: The three mutually agreed focus areas for SGI-Kenya address shared security interests and challenges. The GOK identified thwarting the movement of terrorists across the porous Kenya borders, particularly the Somalia border, as one of its highest national security priorities. Through SGI, the U.S. government is working with Kenya on integrated border management to create a holistic border management program. This integration will ensure GOK’s capability to effectively manage both the legal and illegal movement of people and goods by land, air, sea, and rail in a coordinated and comprehensive manner.
Countering the threat of violent extremism requires the full participation of all members of Kenya’s diverse population. SGI is working with the GOK to enhance police human resources management and the administration of justice in order to foster greater public confidence in security institutions, prevent the marginalization of segments of Kenya’s population, remove obstacles hindering effective prosecution, and allow all citizens access to judicial resources and recourse.
Thus far, SGI has helped the GOK in its efforts to draft an integrated border management strategy; craft legislation to prevent illicit trafficking of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), dual use technology, and conventional weapons; and completed an assessment of the current human resource management systems infrastructure for both the National Police Service Commission and the National Police Service. As part of SGI, Kenyan investigators and prosecutors examined U.S. methods of generating admissible evidence in terrorism cases.
From the outset, the Government of Mali (GOM) and the Malian public have shown interest in and commitment to the SGI. In January 2015, newly-appointed Prime Minister Modibo Keita and his cabinet met the visiting SGI consultation team as his first international meeting. Local Malian press covered the SGI visit and the subsequent JCAP signing ceremony, providing an opportunity to share security governance principles with the Malian public. The SGI-Mali U.S. Head of Delegation is Ambassador (retired) Larry Wohlers.
SGI Engagement: The SGI process has provided insights into planned Malian justice reforms and the national security strategy. SGI has also provided a forum for Malian inter-ministerial discussions on security sector governance priorities, and the opportunity to explore innovative reform options outside of the current system of governance. The GOM demonstrated its commitment to security sector reform by independently taking actions to address SGI objectives.
Mali faces several security governance challenges as it works to consolidate and build on the 2013 restoration of democracy and implementation of a peace accord. The SGI focus areas seek to strengthen internal decision-making processes in key security sector institutions, particularly the Ministries of Defense, Security (police), and Justice. These include the systems and processes that oversee the budget, human resources, resource management, accountability, strategy, and policy. The police, for example, have not recruited new personnel since 2011, and existing recruitment efforts lack sufficient rigor to yield high-quality results. In all three agencies, challenges in managing logistics and matching resources to identified needs have reduced the effectiveness of security efforts. Improvements in these areas will make the provision of other U.S. assistance more effective, as well as assist the GOM in rebuilding effective security institutions in order to address its national security priorities, to include providing enhanced citizen security throughout the country and ensuring access to justice for all.
While the current security situation in Mali limits opportunities for SGI to engage in-country, a defense strategic planning workshop was held in Washington in January 2016 and programming to evaluate court procedures is underway in Mali.
The Government of Niger (GON) has welcomed the SGI approach and appointed a senior-level official in the Office of the Presidency as the SGI point of contact. The President of Niger and Prime Minister both engaged with the local press during the SGI consultation team’s visit and highlighted SGI as a major feature in the future of the bilateral partnership. The SGI-Niger U.S. Head of Delegation is Ambassador (retired) Larry Wohlers.
SGI Engagement: Niger faces a variety of security threats that are acute and expanding. The GON has been effective in responding to the rapid rise in threats since 2012, but the SGI process identified the lack of a broader strategic security framework as one factor hampering the GON’s ability to comprehensively address these threats. SGI will work with the GON to develop a National Security Review and Strategic Framework to help the GON analyze current and emerging threats and efficiently allocate resources to address them. These efforts will include developing systems to plan for multi-year programming, which is not currently possible in the Nigerien system. SGI will also work to help develop an approach to manage human and material security sector resources, including human resources, logistics, and budgeting. This is needed because each of Niger’s five security services currently manages separate and sometimes conflicting human resources classifications, recruiting, and oversight systems. These inconsistencies have eroded employee confidence and degraded the ability to effectively recruit. Enhancing consistency in job qualifications, management policies, procedures, and doctrine will help remedy these challenges. Finally, Nigerien security services struggle to effectively communicate with the public due to both a lack of established channels and insufficient experience. SGI will work with the GON to enhance its external communication in order to build public trust with its citizens.
As a result of keen interest and active participation, the GON has already proactively instituted several reforms, such as the Prime Minister’s call for each Ministry to appoint a designated media/communications contact to facilitate interagency communication and public outreach.
Beginning in January 2015, the SGI office formed a robust planning team in Washington to engage with the interagency, academics, and NGOs to collect data and inform the U.S. government’s understanding of Nigerian security governance issues. The SGI process allowed for facilitated conversations with international donor partners regarding security sector reform approaches and best practices in Nigeria. SGI engagement in Nigeria began in earnest after the completion of the Nigerian presidential election in May 2015. While awaiting formation of the new government, senior U.S. government officials discussed the SGI processes and principles with senior representatives of the Government of Nigeria (GON), including with President Buhari during his July 2015 visit to Washington, and with senior government officials on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015. The GON senior leadership has embraced the SGI concept. Led by the Minister of Interior – who is also the government’s SGI point of contact – the GON offered innovative and cross-cutting ideas for the SGI engagement in Nigeria during the January 2016 SGI consultation visit. The SGI-Nigeria U.S. Head of Delegation is Ambassador (retired) Stephen Nolan.
SGI Engagement: Nigeria faces a variety of complex internal and external security challenges. While the GON is focused on defeating Boko Haram in the North East, it is also grappling with conflicts in the South East and Middle Belt. Corruption has long diverted resources away from development and governance and fueled instability and violent extremism. The new government is working to stem the illicit flow of resources out of the security sector in order to maximize the resources available to fight insecurity and to enhance public confidence in the government. Discussions over the next few months will identify specific focus areas for SGI in Nigeria in order to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of Nigerian security services.
Once focus areas are mutually agreed upon, the JCAP will be drafted and signed. Program implementation activities are anticipated to start by mid-2016.
The Government of Tunisia (GOT) has expressed a strong interest in working on security sector reform issues through SGI. An SGI consultation team visited Tunis in May 2015 and November 2015. The Tunisian and U.S. governments reaffirmed a commitment to this multi-year partnership during other high-level engagements, including the U.S.-Tunisia Strategic Dialogue and the visit of President Caid Essebsi to Washington in May 2015. The SGI-Tunisia U.S. Head of Delegation is Ambassador (retired) Ronald Neumann.
SGI Engagement: Since the Arab Spring uprising in 2011, Tunisia has been working to institutionalize its new democracy. However, the GOT faces several security governance challenges as it works to counter its many threats. The three SGI focus areas in Tunisia address shared security interests. As in Kenya and Ghana, porous borders have facilitated the flow of armed groups, weapons, and illicit trade into Tunisia, contributing to Tunisia’s growing terrorist challenge. Under SGI the U.S. government will partner with the GOT to improve Border Management by enhancing coordination among the various ministries with responsibilities for border control. By improving police policies and procedures, especially with respect to community engagement, SGI will help the GOT build public support for its security forces, by enhancing their legitimacy and improving transparency, all of which are crucial to ensure citizen security.
Finally, SGI will work with the GOT to strengthen the judiciary and law enforcement agencies as legitimate democratic institutions and to help address key drivers of radicalization. This SGI partnership will facilitate a strategic approach to address these issues and identify Tunisian-led solutions to their most pressing security sector governance concerns.
Thank you to all that have contributed to the progress the Security Governance Initiative made in 2015.
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