Friday, February 11, 2011

EAC partner states develop indicators for conflict early warning mechanism

ARUSHA, Tanzania, February 8, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)

Partner States’ experts in Conflict Early Warning started a two-day meeting in Arusha yesterday to develop a framework of indicators which will facilitate the operationalization of the EAC Early Warning Mechanisms (EAC-EWM).

The EWM is an integral part of the Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution (CPRM) framework.

The EWMs are requirements under the EAC Strategy for Regional Peace and Security and are also provided for in the draft Protocol on Peace and Security, which is expected to be concluded and signed this year.

The EAC Treaty recognizes peace and security as pre-requisites for the success of the EAC region’s integration and stability.

Addressing the meeting, the EAC Deputy Secretary General (in-charge of Political Federation), Hon. Beatrice Kiraso stressed that development of an EWM in particular, would facilitate the monitoring of developments in the region that have potential to cause insecurity and instability.

“Collection and analysis of information, formulation and submission of reports should facilitate response options to EAC decision-making organs,” she said, adding that “early warning can only be effective and justifiable if it leads to early action that would prevent the escalation of situations of conflicts into violence”.

Hon. Kiraso told the delegations comprising high-level military, intelligence and police officers that violent conflicts do not erupt overnight, but over time and can be caused by long historical underlying factors as well as emerging issues.

“This evolution occurs when there are structural conditions, processes and variables that escalate the conflict towards violence when no effective action is taken to reverse the process.”

The EWM Indicators, she said, are therefore useful tools that would allow for continuous engagement in monitoring of these changes over time with the aim of detecting signs that the situation was developing that could lead to violent conflict.

Hon. Kiraso emphasized that most conflicts in the region had been politically motivated and that it was safer to address potential conflicts while still in infancy instead of dealing with post conflict situations.

The chairperson of the meeting and also Director of Strategic Analysis in Burundi’s Ministry of Defence and War Veterans, Colonel Salvatore Siyabo, hailed the development of EWM to facilitate an early response to potential conflicts in the EAC Partner States. He identified this as a pro-active approach, which should be commended.

“When some countries in the world are unexpectedly caught in violence, the EAC is already working to develop an early warning mechanism to ensure that does not happen in our region,” Colonel Siyabo said.

Additional Notes to Editors
In 2002, the EAC Council of Ministers, upon recommendation by the Chiefs of Police, noted the need for an open source-based Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism. The mechanism will support conflict prevention efforts and in particular, reduce the proliferation of illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons in the region which continues to feed criminal elements. The Council directed the Session on Inter-State Security to embark on the development of a regional Conflict Early Warning and Response Protocol.

The Sectoral Councils on Cooperation in Defence, Inter-State Security and Foreign Policy Co-ordination at a joint meeting in February, 2009 directed the Secretariat to prepare a zero draft Early Warning Mechanism, to convene and guide a joint Experts’ Working Group and to review the zero draft formulated by the Secretariat.

SOURCE: East African Community (EAC)