The Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) is one of the most stable and peaceful regions in Africa, although there are pockets of instability that continue to hinder peace and development. To ensure that the peace dividend is maintained and strengthened, SADC and its cooperating partners who are involved in peace and security issues met in Gaborone, Botswana, recently to discuss ways of ensuring a coordinated approach to promoting regional peace and stability in southern Africa.
The inaugural meeting of the Peace and Security Thematic Group (PSTG), which consists of representatives of the SADC Secretariat and its peace and security subsidiary organisations such as the SADC Regional Peacekeeping Training Centre (RPTC), as well as International Cooperating Partners (ICPs) was held on 6 June.
The meeting discussed a wide range of issues, including the existing institutional and policy framework guiding efforts to promote peace and security in the region.
The Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, commonly known as the Organ, is the formal institution of SADC with the mandate to support the achievement and maintenance of security and the rule of law in the SADC region.
The Organ is managed on a Troika basis and coordinated at the level of the SADC Summit, consisting of a Chairperson, Incoming Chairperson and Outgoing Chairperson, and reports to the SADC Summit Chairperson.
The SADC Summit and the Organ Troika, are however, mutually exclusive, and the Chairperson of the Organ cannot simultaneously hold the chair of Summit.
The Organ, which was established in June 1996, works closely with other regional institutions such as the SADC RPTC, the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation, and the Regional Early Warning Centre.
At the legal and policy level, the Organ operations and functions are regulated by the Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.
In addition to this, the Organ has its own strategic plan, the Revised Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ (SIPO).
The main objective of the SIPO is to create a peaceful and stable political and security environment through which the region will realise its objectives of socio-economic development, poverty eradication, and regional integration.
Other key policy documents that guide peace and security activities in SADC include the Protocol on Control of Firearms and Related Ammunition, SADC Protocol on Extradition, SADC Protocol on the Facilitation of Movement of Persons, Protocol on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and the SADC Protocol on Combating Illicit Drugs.
The SADC PSTG meeting also discussed the terms of reference for the newly established thematic group to ensure the smooth implementation of various regional activities, projects and programmes on peace and security.
The main objectives of the SADC PSTG will be to provide a platform for sharing experiences and information on peace and security in the region, as well as facilitating resource mobilisation for SADC's peace and security activities in line with the Costed Implementation Plan on Peace and Security (2016-2021).
The SADC PSTG meeting appointed United States Embassy in Botswana to serve as the Lead ICP and co-chair for the coming year.
The other co-chair is the SADC Directorate of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Affairs.
Director for the SADC Directorate of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Affairs, Jorge Cardoso said collective efforts among all stakeholders will ensure peace and security is maintained in SADC.
He said the SADC PSTG meeting will be convened twice a year, and the meeting will report to the SADC ICP Dialogue Platform, which is the main mechanism coordinating cooperation between SADC and its partners.
The SADC PSTG meeting was attended by various stakeholders that include the European Union Delegation in Botswana, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the International Organisation on Migration.
Adapted from sardc.net