West Africa: Parliamentary Capacity Building
DCAF is committed to a programmatic agenda for parliamentary oversight of the security sector in West Africa, focusing principally on equipping parliamentarians with the necessary skills and knowledge for effective oversight of the security sector.
DCAF's parliamentary programme in West Africa is undertaken with the intention of informing, advising and cooperating on security sector issues with the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as well as with national parliaments.
This programme aims to:
- Strengthen the role of parliaments in West Africa and help them build their capacity in order to improve legislative oversight process in the areas of defence and security
- Generate and distribute practical research and training materials on parliaments' contribution to security sector governance and reform in West Africa
- Support parliamentary defence and security committees in the region and enhance their expertise in dealing with defence and security oversight
- Build a regional network of proactive and skilled West African parliamentarians and parliamentary staffers dealing with defence and security matters.
To meet these objectives DCAF organises capacity building events at regional and national levels in collaboration with the international, regional and national partners. Themes have included trans-border crime, trafficking in small arms and light weapons, parliamentary mechanisms, budgetary oversight, gender integration and parliamentary ethics. These events provide the fora to engage West African parliamentarians and discuss how parliaments can contribute to finding lasting solutions to these crucial issues.
In the framework of this programme, DCAF has developed a guide for West African parliamentarians in partnership with the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). This joint project is based on a formal partnership with the ECOWAS Parliament, as reflected in a Memorandum of Understanding signed in August 2004.
The Guide is an adaptation of the DCAF-Inter-Parliamentary Union 2003 Handbook, Parliamentary Oversight of the Security Sector: Principles, Mechanisms and Practices, and is focused specifically on the West African context. It will serve as a practical tool for parliamentarians and contains good practices and case studies on parliamentary oversight of the security sector in the region.
The Guide aims to:
- Increase awareness on the importance of effective parliamentary oversight of the security sector in West Africa
- Strengthen understanding of the links between parliamentary oversight of the security sector and human security, peace and sustainable development
- Support parliamentarians, and in particular members of defence and security committees to improve their expertise in overseeing defence and security matters in the region.
The main target group for this project is parliamentarians from ECOWAS member states and, in particular, members of security and defence committees. The target group also includes civil society representatives in West Africa, SSR practitioners, academics working on SSR and international and regional organisations.
The chapters of the Guide were prepared by local partners including West African parliamentarians, civil society representatives and academics, SSR practitioners and members of the armed forces and security services. It was revised jointly by DCAF, external editors and members of the ECOWAS Parliament Political Affairs, Peace and Security and Legal and Judicial Affairs Committees.
The Guide was presented to the ECOWAS Parliament Plenary Session on September 29, 2010 and unanimously approved. It is available in the English, French and Portuguese languages here.