Insecurity defines the Great Lakes Region (GLR). There has never been a single year in the last six decades of Africa’s independence when there was no war or generalized violent conflict in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Almost all manifestations of all forms of violence have been identified in the region. These range from interstate and intrastate wars, ethnic conflicts and wars, genocide, rebellions and insurgents and counter insurgence killings, military coups and related violence and killings, state and communal related conflicts and massacres, cattle raiding murders, militia and warlord attacks on civilians, political riots and the latest form of violence being terrorism and using rape as a weapon of war. The costs of these violent conflicts are many and very high. There have been unimaginable economic, political, and human costs of these violent conflicts and wars that have resulted in great suffering of the people in the region.
There are many drivers of conflicts in the GLR that include but are not limited to the following: dysfunctional states, political and economic exclusion and other forms of inequality, the culture of militarism, historical memory and colonial legacy and injustices, deep ethnic divisions, contested citizenship and constitutional instability. Other drivers of conflict are; poor governance, poverty, very high population growth, unemployment, the existence of hegemonic rivalries in the region, the emergence of armed militia and warlord groups, the discovery of strategic minerals in the region with accompanying conflict entrepreneurs at times with foreign mercenaries to protect mines etc. By and large the above is a combustible mix of factors and actors. There are also new and emerging issues of looking at security when security is defined as any threats to life and well being. These include new security issues such as; illicit drug trafficking and drug abuse, droughts, floods, famines, environment damage and climate change, cyber fraud, hi-tech crime etc.
The continued persistence of violent conflicts in the region has not been due to a lack of conflict resolution and management attempts. Many attempts by national, regional, and international efforts have been made with little success to resolve the unending conflicts in the region. There have been international peace missions and peace sponsored political settlements but with minimal successes. These interventions include international organizations such as the UN, EU, World Bank, AU and at a regional level, we have EAC, SADC, IGGAD and ICGLR. There have also been efforts at a bilateral level like that of S.Africa mediation and peace mission in Burundi etc. At the time of writing this programme description, there are regional and international peace mediation efforts going on in S.Sudan, Sudan and DR. Congo.
The UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG 16) is about Peace, Justice and strong institutions. The main target of SDG 16 is strengthening institutions to prevent violence, combat crime and terrorism. Therefore, the Security and Peace Governance programme is in line with goal number 16 of the SDGs. The former UN secretary-general Annan stated that there would not be development without security and there would not be security without development. This programme falls in line with Annan’s thinking. The programme will consider development from a security perspective and angle. We think that non-military security threats such as underdevelopment are as important as military threats to security. Non-military factors such as poverty, unemployment, rapid population increase, inequality, political exclusion, political oppression, lack of democracy, bad governance, climate change, cybercrime etc are linked to security threats and yet are generally under-researched, under-theorized and under dialogued. Conventional security research has prioritized the security of the state at the expense of the security of individuals and communities. Conventional research and scholarship have also assumed the state to be the protector of people and yet at times, the state itself threatens the security of citizens. Similarly, the military has been taken to be the provider of security and yet in most cases the military has been the source of insecurity. Traditional security research and governance has also tended to consider security as a military affair for the military alone to handle. Furthermore, conventionally security sector institutions are top-down and yet modern governance demands that governance including security governance is bottom-up. Therefore, this programme hopes to research and bring fresh insights and perspectives of security and security governance in the public sphere for debate in the region. The outcome of the programme it is hoped will lead to a paradigm shift from security being largely state-centred to combining both state and human security approaches in the Great Lakes of Africa.
GLISS as a public interest organization is to carry out research, produce knowledge and carry out public education as a way of contributing to conflict resolution and management in the Great Lakes of Africa of Africa. The following goals will be the guide;
a) To contribute towards reducing security risks in the great lakes region
b) Contribute to making peace negotiations, peace missions and political settlements in the region succeed.
c) Supporting efforts of regional security cooperation and security integration of the Great Lakes Region.
d) Promoting civil society participation in security governance and fostering civic norms in security and peace governance.
e) Bring human security issues from the back seat to the foreground in the public policy agenda of the Great Lakes Region.
1) A security Atlas and Map of the Great Lakes Region
2) Review and assess political settlements, agreements and peace missions in the region
3) Assess the provisions of the national constitution and find out how they address or fail to address diversity management in the respective states
4) Carry out security and peace literature reviews and publish the reviews
5) Hold public education awareness lectures on security and peace in the Region
6) Organizing Great Lakes Regional security review conferences and publishing conference proceedings.
7) Research and publication of books, journal articles, book chapters reports, working papers etc on security and peace.
8) Engage Security Decision Making structures of the state such as parliamentary and cabinet security committees as well as engage provincial and district security committees as advisors.
Set up a Documentation Library of security and peace.