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Update on Citizen Engagement in Security Sector Reform in West Africa

After a successful Symposium on Citizen Engagement in Security Sector Reform in the Mano River Region of West Africa, participants look forward to working together on ensuring human security is integral to security sector transformation.

Update on Citizen Engagement in Security Sector Reform in West Africa

Dr. Saran Daraba, Secretary-General of the Mano River Union delivers her keynote address, as Col. Birame Diop (moderator), Director of Partners Senegal, takes notes.

At a ground-breaking two-day symposium, Partners for Democratic Change and Partners Senegal convened representatives from the security sector, government and civil society of the four countries that make up the Mano River Region of Africa (Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone) to discuss how to engage citizens in the process of Security Sector Reform.

Chief Zanzan Karwor

Chief Zanzan Karwor, Head of the National Traditional Council of Liberia emphasized the importance of including citizens in discussions of security sector transformation.

The September 2012 event, "Citizen Engagement in Security Sector Reform in the Mano River Region" was supported by the United States Department of State.

“The symposium has encouraged me to become more active in the Security Sector Reform of my country. It is paramount to sustainable development. Civil society’s active participation is key.”

The symposium marked the first time that national level actors from the four countries and three stakeholder groups came together to discuss security sector transformation issues including: Regional Approaches to Addressing Security Challenges, Decentralization as a Pillar of National Policy, Resource Mobilization for Security and Citizen Engagement. The symposium was an opportunity for key stakeholders from  four countries and from the different sectors (security, government, and civil society) to share information and network.

“Providing balanced security based on the needs of the population requires both the state and the population to work together.”

From the diverse interactions, networks are being formed and strengthened, and will provide the base for meaningful improvement in human security in the Mano River region. It was a giant first step towards sustainably engaging civil society in the transformation processes.

 “Whenever I have the opportunity, I will advocate for citizen engagement in the security sector.”

Conferences like this one are only the beginning of real change. The real challenge begins now: working with the participants to build on their ideas to continue to ensure citizens and human security challenges remain at the heart of security sector transformation efforts. This group photo with participants, speakers, facilitators, and resource participants, contains many of the key people who are needed to continue this effort.

Group Photo

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