by Dr. Zoe Pelter
"Starting from scratch" - a term used widely over the summer to describe the challenges faced by the world's newest state, the
Republic of South Sudan. More recently, it has been used to describe the difficulties to be faced during the
interim mandate of the
While the two states are in entirely different situations both face similar difficulties in what is effectively state creation - and nation building - in a post-war context. And while focusing positively on the establishment of national governmental structures and re-establishing service provision is of utmost importance, addressing the remnants of conflict will prove vital in the creation of these 'new' states. This is not a metaphor - thus far, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) reports that mine action agencies across Libya have cleared approximately 2,500 houses, 58 schools and in total 53,000 pieces of explosive remnants of war. Paramilitary forces are still present across the country, with myriad local loyalties. Fears abound that differences between armed groups from Misrata, Tripoli and Benghazi could lead to further violence as the NTC seeks to establish various columns of power, with the UN expressing increasing concern about the looting and likely proliferation of weapons, and newly laid mines. South Sudan also faces high levels of insecurity from large numbers of small arms spread amongst the civilian population in often inaccessible areas; rebel militia groups; armed factions who have split from the de facto national army, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA); and armed groups responsible for frequent violent inter-communal cattle raids. These elements have created a background of widespread insecurity as the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) seeks to establish state infrastructure, service provision and to tackle some of the countries devastating humanitarian needs.
In both cases it is essential that the fledgling government fully cements its monopoly of legitimate use of force, a key element of its ability to uphold the rule of law and create state institutions and services. This is particularly true of Libya as it looks to the future, with a timeline already in place to elect two hundred delegates to an assembly in order to draft a national constitution, after which elections and the establishment of an official government will follow.
In post-conflict periods such as this, Disarmament, Demobilisation and Rehabilitation (DDR) processes have become the norm, with previous UN-led processes in countries from Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia to Afghanistan and Nepal. Traditionally these programmes focus on military groups, aiming to dismantle command structures, reduce the size of operational forces and prepare combatants to reintegrate into civilian life. More recently these processes have widened to address the needs of wider communities affected by armed violence. This collection of programmes, often termed Second Generation DDR, is a mixture of post conflict stabilisation measures, including emergency employment or reinsertion programmes; specific group targeting programmes including at-risk youths; and wider approaches to addressing unregulated weapons and disarmament. The safe transitioning of combatants to civilian life in the Libyan case could help to reduce the risk of renewed violence or development of factions during transition, particularly while Libya has no political party structure in place for the voicing of opposition viewpoints.
Indeed, this was the plan in South Sudan, which agreed during negotiations for the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) to DDR for its ex-combatants. However, six years after the CPA required the SPLA, and the North's Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), to conduct DDR for parts of their wartime forces,
Disarmament is certainly an urgent need for both situations but not only for quasi-military forces. The proliferation of weapons amongst large sections of the civilian population has been a constant feature throughout the Libyan conflict, and in the immediate post-conflict period there is an urgent need to establish a collection process for the number of weapons spread across the country. However, disarmament and demobilisation processes first require a certain degree of security. Currently uncertainty is widespread in Libya about rebel loyalties, future power sharing and the capacities of unknown quantities of arms. Attempts to disarm armed actors or civilians before assurances about security can be made may therefore lead to a perceived 'security vacuum', which itself could undermine state stability. Unfortunately, South Sudan highlights this problem well. In lieu of a tailored and vetted security institution, forceful civilian disarmament was previously carried out by the SPLA, which in 2006 left more than a thousand people dead in Jonglei state. Tensions between civilians and the SPLA and other security actors such as the police mean that such violent confrontation in the past has been common. The violence could be argued to be a result of perceived 'security vacuums' created after civil disarmament, in which citizens, no longer protected by their own weapons, also felt unprotected by the state. Indeed, many South Sudanese have little confidence in the nation's police force to protect citizens, and negative perceptions abound with rumours of corruption and inefficiency. The SPLA itself is ill-trusted by citizens, as a result of the numerous loyalties of soldiers who have received often ineffective training and are infrequently paid.
Striking a balance between a need to demobilise and reintegrate the SPLA in South Sudan or a multitude of rebel forces in Libya without leaving an absence of security will be challenging. However, in Libya it would seem that actions have been taken to sidestep these challenges. Indeed, Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, a senior NTC official, was reported on 14 November to have stated that members of a new Libyan army had been deployed near to Zawiya. The soldiers were reported to have been issued uniforms and ID badges and Ghoga commented that this new security force is growing, reportedly stating plans to create a new army once the interim government becomes official. Former anti-Gaddafi fighters will then have the choice to return to civilian life or join the security forces and begin training. The idea does seem pragmatic in light of current insecurity in promising to refocus the energies of various armed factions towards protection of the fledging government and renewed security services for the population. However, the sustainability of moving so quickly towards this solution is doubtful, as creating new security services amounts to a worryingly hurried form of security sector reform (SSR).
Although definitions vary depending on circumstance, SSR processes aim to make ineffective or unprofessional and often ungoverned security institutions and actors proficient, effective and democratically accountable. The process is political as well as technical and would, given the rapid timeline of the
Disbanding non-state armed actors is clearly necessary for the state to assert its authority and uphold the rule of law but so is a reconstitution of security forces. While the two immediate security requirements seem irreconcilable, a blending of these two transitional processes - DDR and SSR - may be possible in the Libyan case. A solution similar to that used in postconflict Kosovo may be possible here. In 1999, the interim administration of the
Although a world away from both Libya and South Sudan, the KPC model seems to offer ideas for a temporary solution to ensure that adequate security forces are trained and in place to avoid creating security vacuums during civil disarmament and moreover to aid transition and development. This form of reintegration would allow for security during military and civilian disarmament processes and a sense of ownership of development, as well as providing relief to costly international partnerships. Of course, there are many criticisms of this programmatic synchronisation, particularly given the different time frames of the two processes and the difficulty of establishing frameworks in which to carry them out. However, as in the case of the KPC which started to wrap up in 2008, paralleling these processes would a temporary solution which would give the state both internal stability and also time to assess its internal and external security agenda. In Libya, stalling disarmament processes or safe transitioning of combatants back to some form of regular role is not an option, but neither is rushing into traditionally long-term political decisions to reconstitute and professionalise security institutions. However, in the Libyan case a paralleling of the two processes, approached carefully, may be mutually reinforcing.
Now independent, South Sudan also warrants a reassessment of transition policy because, while it is no longer under an interim authority, transition to a country with working democratic and infrastructural process will take a lot of time. The expiry of the CPA mandate means that there may be room now for the country to reconstitute its own DDR processes to ensure that they are tailored to the remaining needs of the SPLA, and possibly other armed groups within the country. Again, this rethink also has economic incentives for GoSS and its international partners. In addition, overwhelming needs to deliver security and humanitarian services will require adequately vetted and trained security forces which, as in the Kosovan case, may act as a path to a meaningful career for ex-combatants. The use of the SPLA to lead a new civilian disarmament campaign in Lakes, Unity and Warrap states, announced in August by presidential decree, highlights a need to address the underlying tensions that have previously led to violence during these processes. As the army prepares for next stage of this process - door to door weapon searches - questioned must be raised as to the suitability of these actors for this process. Any synchronising of DDR and SSR must be carefully balanced but the pressing need to move away from 'conflict mode' and into constructive phases of development may push the government to at last start to develop a proper monopoly of force.
The role of the international community now must be to help these states transition away from conflict and towards sustainable development. Paralleling DDR and SSR mechanisms, where suitable, may enable countries in circumstances such as Libya's and South Sudan's, to emerge from conflict, provide for their own security and uphold rule of law; all of which essential preconditions of sustainable development and a key part of exit strategies for expensive stabilisation missions. Without a monopoly on the use of force, both the
"International Security: Balanced Transition"