Human security

Placing human security at the center of sustainable regional peace and security

The Chronicle

Prosper Ndlovu, Feature
A SENSE of terror continues to hang over developing economies around the world, including Africa, in the wake of the vexing variants of Covid-19.

For southern Africa, the adverse impacts of the pandemic are increasingly visible in the form of weakened levels of human security among member states.

Job losses due to strained economic activity, lower income and associated mental distress, widening inequalities in access to food and health services, gender-based violence and development setbacks are among the many negative impacts.

Recent academic studies confirm that the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) is facing human security ramifications from Covid-19.

These problems are compounded by the complications of climate change, which affect many communities, as well as by the urgency of isolated armed conflicts and violent protests in parts of the region.

The notion of human security emphasizes the need for countries to address as a priority the problems that affect the citizens of a particular state, as the root causes of insecurity.

Experts in international relations believe that this approach provides a more comprehensive framework for addressing various challenges to national peace and security by focusing on the needs of the people.

Senior Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Marina Caparini in a research paper on “the impact of Covid-19 on human security” released by the United Nations in May this year, identifies seven components of human security that should be given priority if regions are to achieve lasting peace and security.

They are health security, economic security, food security, environmental security, personal security, community security and political security.

She warns that as governments focus on containing Covid-19, enforcement should not overshadow these sensitive human security elements, given their broader implications for national peace and security.

“The subject of the human security approach is people, and its end goal is the protection of people,” says Caparini.

His point of view is supported by South African researcher Joshua Rosenberg, who notes that Angola, South Africa and Zimbabwe face increased risk in several dimensions of the labor market from the shock of Covid-19 .

“These countries all face a high risk in their youth populations, with Angola and Zimbabwe seeing high risks for women,” he said, citing the results of a recent study on “the impact of Covid-19 on Sadc’s labor markets “.

“South Africa faces more sector-specific risks in its secondary and tertiary sectors, as does Mauritius. The Comoros, DRC and Madagascar all face high risks of job loss for women and youth, with Comoros and Mauritius facing severe general employment risks. “

This emphasizes the need to shift security interests beyond state-centric issues alone, but recognizing that deprivations of human security could strongly undermine peace and stability within and between countries. .

Experts in international relations agree that modeling human security could offer effective responses to current security vulnerabilities and insecurities, which is essential for sustainable regional peacebuilding.

Although Covid-19 is not a traditional security threat, it has revealed how regions, including southern Africa, are responding to emerging threats to human security, says Juliet Eileen Joseph of the University of Johannesburg.

She adds that regional peace and security are further compromised due to an upsurge in violent conflicts within Sadc, all of which are occurring amid the period of the global coronavirus pandemic.

The violent protests sparked by the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma in South Africa are a case in point after claiming an estimated 337 lives in July this year, according to that country’s presidential office.

Vandalism and looting by angry mobs also disrupted normal trade flows and regional trade supplies through South Africa, severely crippling service delivery and affecting income.

This was to be followed by the “Phoenix Massacre” where around 30 people died of vigilante killings in August following an outbreak of violence involving blacks and Indians, local media reported.

Analysts attribute them to existing socio-economic inequalities and crime that emanates from gaps in human security.

Similar violent protests erupted in Eswatini from mid-2021 against democratic reforms leading to negative impacts on civil security, including the deaths of dozens of people.

In July this year, Eswatini’s acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku said the protests had caused 5,000 job losses and R3 billion in damage, and about 1,000 small businesses were affected.

The Carbo Delgado terrorist insurgency in Mozambique also remains a thorn in the flesh for Sadc as a whole. In November 2021, for example, Mathias Eick of the European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations reported that nearly 800,000 people, nearly half of the province’s population, had been displaced by the insurrection.

Some have become refugees in and around the capital of Pemba province, creating a humanitarian crisis in terms of the provision of basic humanitarian assistance, including the rehabilitation of health centers and schools.

“We first fled into the bush when Al Shabab attacked our village,” Jifa Nguile, over 70, told Relief Web.

“But my sons then helped me and my granddaughters to flee first to Macomia, then to this place near Pemba, where we feel much safer.

Estimates indicate that since it began in late 2017, the conflict has killed more than 3,000 people and displaced more, some even more than once.

Commenting on this situation, Dr Clayton Hazvinei Vhumbunu, from the University of Rhodes in South Africa, suggests that the main cause of the Mozambican insurgency is linked to poverty, lack of socio-economic opportunities, marginalization, to the discrimination, inequalities and frustrations of young people as a result. protracted and unresolved conflict in the country.

He adds that when the first insurgent attacks were recorded in 2017, Mozambique’s economy was coincidentally experiencing a downturn, which took its toll on ordinary people.

While SADC is not engaged in a full-scale war of the magnitude of liberation struggles, it is undoubtedly fighting a threat to human security induced by the above factors, which collectively undermine the sustainability of the peace. regional peace and security.

Southern African peace and security expert Michael Aeby agrees that these armed conflicts and violent protests are not only motivated by ambitious rebel leaders, but largely by social grievances and human security issues for marginalized combatants.

While dialogue and military intervention could end a violent confrontation, such as the case between the Mozambican government and the Renamo of late rebel leader Alfonso Dhlakama in 2014, Aeby suggests that lasting peace and stability will remain fragile until that existing human security issues are resolved. .

It urges SADC governments to invest more in improved governance systems and democratization processes that will foster an inclusive sense of nationality and development.

In Zimbabwe, President Mnangagwa pledged to promote equitable development in all regions of the country as part of the government’s Vision 2030 campaign, citing the need to foster inclusion and address historic conflicts such as the Gukurahundi conflict in the early 1980s.

In line with the region’s desire for a common future as articulated in the SADC Declaration and Treaty as well as the Protocol on Politics, Peace and Security, there is a need to increase regional integration and collaboration between member states to strengthen human security, in particular.

This includes accelerating the implementation of key regional agreements and projects that have a greater impact on the livelihoods of ordinary citizens, which will improve regional resilience strategies and protect citizens from all social and economic fallout. potential.

Such interventions would further assist SADC in advancing sustainable development as expressed in Agenda 2030 for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as Agenda 2063 for Africa, which have integrated human security into all levels.

Despite the highlighted human security gaps, the Sadc region is to be commended for its efforts to foster collective peace and security responses, which have achieved key milestones.

This saw the deployment on July 15, 2021 of the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) through an Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government resolution.

Sadc’s November 2021 report highlights some of the key successes which include taking back villages, dislodging terrorists from their bases, and seizing weapons and war material, which have helped create a relatively safe for a safer passage of humanitarian aid.

“In addition, community members developed confidence in SAMIM’s forces, feeling more secure and allowing internally displaced people to resume normal lives,” Sadc said.

The political and security situation in Lesotho has also remained broadly stable following the successful development of the national stakeholder dialogue in 2020.

Working closely with the United Nations, the Sadc region has also been given credit for stabilizing operations in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which has been marred by armed conflict in recent years.

The interventions, among others, have enabled the neutralization of negative forces, the protection of civilians and the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the population affected by terrorism, Sadc said.