Nepal Center for Security Governance (NCSG) and Geneva Center for Security Sector Governance (DCAF) co-organized a three-day-long South Asia Security Sector Governance Forum in Dhulikhel, from September 5 to 7, 2019. The main objective behind organizing this regional Forum was to provide an avenue to facilitate region-wide experience sharing and discussion, and identify platform for coordination and collaboration, especially over the security sector governance (SSG) challenges as well as opportunities for SSG reform/development for individual countries in particular and region as a whole.
The Forum was participated by senior delegates from South Asian countries comprising of parliamentarians, security/government officials and academia/think tanks, among others. They includes: Major Gen. Ruwan Kulatunga, Chief of the National Intelligence (from Sri Lanka); Hon Dr Passang Dorji, Member of the National Parliament (from Bhutan); Major Gen. Alok Deb, SM, VSM (retd)/Deputy Director General, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (from India); Mr. Fareed Ismail, Office of Counter Terrorism, Maldives Police Service (from Maldives); Col. Anup Jung Thapa, Nepali Army (from Nepal); Mr Ammar Jaffri, President of Pakistan Information Security Association (from Pakistan); and Mr Khaled Nasir, Senior Researcher at Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (from Bangladesh). Similarly, Dr. Jennifer Oreta, Asst. Prof. at Ateneo de Manila University (from Philippines) and Dr. Insoo Kim, Assoc. Prof. at Department of Political Science, Korea Military Academy (form South Korea) were present as the Forum as the special observers. The opening session of the Forum was chaired by Mr. Abhaya R. Joshi, Chairperson of NCSG while the Chief Guest was Hon. Member- Pabitra Niraula (Kharel)/President, International Relations Committee, House of Representatives (HoR) Nepal. Other eminent persons addressing the opening session include: Advisor to NCSG- Hon. Member Dr. Deepak Prakash Bhatt/Member, International Relations Committee, HoR, Nepal and Head of the APU/DCAF- Dr. Albrecht Schnabel.
Mr. Abhaya R. Joshi, welcoming the program participants and invited guests has highlighted the need and objective behind organizing the Forum. He encouraged constructive discussions and deliberation over security challenges, sharing experiences on various SSG and SSD/R issues, and explore common ways/strategies to deal with these situations are of primary importance for our national as well as regional security. Mr. Joshi also shared his desire that the discussion shall follow possible regional collaboration to address national-level SSG challenges through SSD/R activities; and the long-term mission he holds to bring out common ways to settle security challenges within and between countries while advancing good SSG in the Asia-Pacific region at large.
Hon. Pabitra Niraula (Kharel), explained how the security dynamics is changing in the whole world, and that is why our discussion should go beyond addressing just traditional security risks and challenges. She highlighted the importance of people centric security management which follows the long and diverse linkages like terrorism, ethnic conflict, cyber threats, small arms proliferation, environmental destruction, climate change and so on. Similarly, illiteracy, unemployment, corruption etc. are among our common challenges which can effect SSG, she explained. Furthermore, Hon.
Pabitra shared how the present Government of Nepal (GoN) has worked for wider amendment and updating of National Security Policy, 2016; and also highlighted the role of Nepal’s security institutions in establishing peace in different conflict-prone or post-conflict countries around the world.
Hon. Dr. Deepak Prakash Bhatt in his address summarized Nepal’s unique Peace model in regards to management of arms and armies in the country. Among others, he touched on Nepal’s peace process and challenges encountered during the verification and integration of Maoist combatants, explained the need for the establishment and deployment of Armed Police Force (APF) in the country, and highlighted the challenges and opportunities in restructuring of security forces in line with the new federal structure. He also described about the transitional justice process in Nepal that has been continuously delayed, and how this delay pose threats to good SSG in the country. Furthermore, he highlighted the need for the genuine political consensus as an important starting point towards good SSG in any country.
Dr. Albrecht Schnabel in his multiple presentations, deliberations and facilitation during the three-day Forum, has made an Introduction of DCAF’s Initiative to Promote Good SSG in the Asia-Pacific Region; explained about the Concept of Good SSG – highlighting on State and Non-state Security Actors and Oversight Actors, Good governance principles and standards; and the usefulness in applying the Good SSG concept to national security sector assessments and the identification of SSD/R activities. Furthermore, he facilitated the group exercises to barnstorm ideas for common activities within the network, between and beyond the annual South Asia SSG Forums. The three day program was facilitated by DCAF’s Asia-Pacific project officers: Mr. Rohit Karki and Ms. Upasana Garoo under the guidance of Dr. Albrecht Schnabel. Mr. Karki and Ms. Garoo briefed the delegates regarding DCAF’s network initiatives in South Asia and the status of the partnership in each country. Furthermore, they provided an overview of the application of Good SSG challenges and opportunities in the South Asian region. They facilitated and supported the delegates members in identifying possible areas of SSD reform in each country and possible common regional SSD activities. They were supported by two other DCAF colleagues, that is, Mr. Kim Youngchan and Mr. Kevin Socquet-Clerc.
To summarize the Forum activities, today the security sector is changing rapidly, and traditional security challenges have evolved to a next level following advancement in technology and easy access to information sharing platforms. To address these emerging challenges, more innovative approaches are required, and for this good governance practices should be adopted towards enhancing human skills, incorporate technologies, respect for individual privacy, and most importantly assure clearly defined policies and civilian/parliamentary oversight mechanisms. The Forum promoted dialogues and conversations for hands-on practical and policy initiatives that generate greater and more sustainable buy-in for thorough examinations of security sector, as well as their compatibility and conformity with good security sector governance principles including public service provision of security services, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and international and regional standards, norms and principles.
Lastly, the Forum has come up with some way forwards and strategic steps towards achieving good SSG and SSD/R in individual countries and in the region as a whole. They include: