Sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (SEA) are fundamental violations of humanitarian and protection principles of civilians during armed conflict. While any violations or abuses of power are the responsibility of the individual, the deploying entity also has a responsibility to ensure that effective mechanisms are in place to prevent and address misconduct on the part of its personnel. As a result, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in close partnership with the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), coordinated a Leadership Capacity Building Workshop on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse. ACCORD continues to be an engaged civil society organisation working in conflict management across the continent, as demonstrated over the last two decades.
The workshop was opened by the newly appointed Special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission (SRCC) for Somalia and Head of AMISOM, Ambassador Maman Sambo Sidikou, who emphasised the aim of strengthening the Mission's instruments and approaches towards preventing and addressing the issue of SEA. In addition, Ambassador Welile Nhlapo made opening remarks on behalf of the civil society.
The workshop took place from 9-11 October 2014 at the Pan-African Parliament, Midrand, South Africa. It targeted 55 senior leadership personnel who represented the Somali government, the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), the AU Commission, AMISOM, United Nations, in particular, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) United Nations Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA), and civil society. Also, at the invitation of the Special Envoy of the AU Commission Chairperson on Women, Peace and Security, Ms. Bineta Diop, the former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Chairperson of the AU Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan, H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, contributed in a session of the workshop. Former President Obasanjo, urged AMISOM leadership to be attentive in preventing and responding to SEA. He also acclaimed AMISOM personnel and the police and troop contributing countries for the significant sacrifices and contribution to the peace process in Somalia.
Leaders serving in AMISOM were advised to guard against sexual abuse and exploitation in the course of their duty. The workshop further aimed at strengthening AMISOM's instruments and approaches towards preventing and addressing the issue of sexual abuse and exploitation. In accordance with ACCORD's thematic focus on the Protection of Civilians, AMISOM expressed the need for assistance in developing their capacity to undertake an effective mandate implementation in response to the prevention of SEA in the mission. There was the need to increase participant understanding and knowledge to work in the unique context of AMISOM operations in Somalia.
The workshop further intended to strengthen, consolidate, and synergize existing efforts by fostering leadership and Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) commitment to stem SEA, and build capacities of all relevant actors inside and outside the mission on SEA. It further sought to revise the AMISOM SEA Policy Draft to include a strategy and Action Plan for preventing and responding to SEA as well as develop key communications to enhance the credibility, image and reputation of AMISOM with regards to SEA. The workshop concluded with a statement of AMISOM Leadership's Commitment to address SEA, a revision of AMISOM SEA Policy, recommendations on responses to victims of SEA and enhancing the credibility, image and reputation of AMISOM.
ACCORD/TfP has been supporting the AU on the Conduct and Discipline process since its inception in 2008 and seeks to continue its support to the Federal Government of Somalia and AMISOM. These initiatives are in line with the TfP Programme's strategic goal for improved and sustainable capacity for peace operations on the continent, through ensuring that functional organizational systems are in place in the UN, AU and RECs using relevant policy frameworks mandated by the UN, AU and RECs.
ACCORD/TfP was represented by Mr Kwezi Mngqibisa, Ms Irene Limo, Ms Barbara Mohale and Ms Stephanie de Freitas. ACCORD/TfP is an initiative funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
For more information on ACCORD's work through the TfP programme, please contact Ms. Irene Limo, Senior Programme Officer, Peacekeeping Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ms. Barbara Mohale, Peacekeeping Unit Programme Officer at email@example.com.