Introduction

The African Security Sector Network (ASSN) is a pan-African network of experts and organisations working in the area of Security Sector Reform (SSR). Founded in 2003, the network is headquartered in Accra, Ghana, with regional hubs in Juba, Nairobi and Johannesburg, and a smaller office attached to the African Union in Addis Ababa.

The ASSN exists to facilitate progress towards the achievement of effective and democratically governed security sectors across Africa. It pursues this mission by working to strengthen the capacities of African governments, national security institutions, parliaments, intergovernmental organisations and civil society groups to undertake and own SSR programmes.  The organisation also strives to expand the concept of African SSR through sustained research, publication and training.

Our Work Around Africa

The ASSN has worked on Security Sector Reform and Governance projects in many parts of Africa and beyond. Our past and current projects have been conducted in partnership with our regional affiliates, national governments, parliaments, civil society organisations, security experts, regional blocs, international organisations and other partners.

What is Security Sector Reform? Click here for an overview

Background

The African Security Sector Network (ASSN) was created at Elmina, Ghana, in November 2003 out of a recognition of the need to harmonise and facilitate the activities of the various African organisations working in the area of Security Sector Reform and Governance (SSR/G).

The principal objective of the network is to promote democratically governed and effective security for the peoples of Africa, and to enhance the capacity of African governments, security institutions, legislatures and civil society organizations to undertake and own Security Sector Reform (SSR) programmes and projects.

The ASSN has developed as a multidisciplinary network spanning academics, think-tanks, CSOs, security practitioners (active and retired), legislators in defence and security committees, etc, with a pan-African character that enables experiences from different traditions of security organisation and practice (Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone) to be shared.

The network derives its core strength from its diverse competencies and locations (which enables it to work for change from both within and without); from a capacity for internal debate; and an ability to engage a broad range of security actors (national, regional and international), as well as policy-and decision-makers.

While the original mandate of the ASSN was that of facilitating the activities of its member organisations (and this remains an important part of its focus), increasingly over time the priority has shifted to constituting the ASSN as a pan-African network, providing Support to Policy Development and SSR/G Implementation, available to the AU, RECs, national governments and external partners who share the values of the network. This has necessitated the creation of an independent Secretariat for the network (replacing the earlier skeletal administrative structure) and a personality separate and distinct from that of its member organisations.[1] The Secretariat was established in 2010 with the generous contribution of the UK government through DFID. It is based in Accra, Ghana, and coordinates the activities of the network.

VISION

The driving vision of ASSN is that of an African security sector that is democratically governed, people-centred, well managed, accountable and effective in supporting and sustaining human security. The most central feature of the ASSN vision is to promote an African-centred approach, which involves drawing primarily from indigenous knowledge, expertise and resources to support democratic security sector governance (SSG) and design Security Sector Reform (SSR) programmes both pragmatic and sustainable.

[1] The network was previously governed by a Steering Committee of 6 elected and 10 co-opted members, with a Chair and Vice-Chair, but is now directed by an Executive Committee of 13 members, which supports the central Secretariat.

MISSION

The ASSN’s corporate mission is the transformation of security governance and promotion of peace and justice in Africa through:

  • Supporting policy and institutional development at the continental, regional and national level, by working to strengthen the capacities of inter-governmental organisations (African Union and RECs), African governments, national security actors, Parliaments and oversight institutions, and civil society groups to undertake and implement SSR/G programmes ;
  • Mapping security governance in Africa by promoting an African-centred focus, disseminating African practices in the areas of SSR/G and by serving as a continental information repository;
  • Promoting and facilitating the emergence of African SSR/G networks and expertise;
  • Enhancing security literacy among African decision-makers and the general public;
  • Advocacy by promoting inclusive dialogue and informed debate around issues of security and justice, designed to influence decision-makers and policy processes;
  • Identifying, listing and making easily accessible all the literature and resource material related to SSR/G in Africa.

CORE VALUES

The core values of the ASSN are an Africa-centred agenda, Accountability and transparency, Inclusivity, Integrity and objectivity, Diversity, Responsiveness, Sustainability and Partnership.

ACTIVITIES

The ASSN carries out a wide range of activities, both at the corporate level and through its member organisations. Over time, however, six core roles have evolved:

  • Support to Policy development and SSR/G implementation via:
    • Working with the African Union (AU) and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to promote African approaches to SSR ;
    • Working with national governments and security actors to build policy and institutional capacity to address security issues within a democratic and accountable framework;
    • Working with African parliaments and rule of law institutions to improve their security oversight capabilities and with civil society organizations (CSOs) to equip them with the skills (political as much as technical) to engage (and transform) the security sector;
    • Working with civil society and the media to strengthen their capacity to engage the security sector and support the implementation of the African Union Policy Framework on Security Sector Reform (AU-PFSSR)
  • Research: Mapping African security governance via policy-oriented research. Three kinds of research activities could be identified:
    • Mapping societal security ;
    • Mapping security sector;
    • Other research activities: past research activities and successful applications to international bids.
  • Expertise: Development of the ASSN Roster and provision of advisory and consultancy services;
  • Security Literacy: Enhancing security literacy among African decision makers and the public at large through training, education, and dissemination of resource materials.
  • Advocacy: Engaging with African governments, external partners and Civil Society Organistions (CSOs) interested in supporting SSR in Africa
  • Resource materials: The on-line Document Library gives access to a rich collection of literature and other documents on the security sector in Africa and other subjects with close relevance.