Iraq’s security sector reform efforts showcased during Security and Defence Parliamentary Conference in Cairo, regional cooperation to be further reinforced

Dec 12, 2016

Joint action to strengthen Arab Parliamentary oversight capacities was amongst recommendations of the conference held in Cairo. Photo: UNDP Iraq/2016

Cairo- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organized a Regional Parliamentary Conference on Security Sector Reform from 11-12 December 2016 in Cairo, Egypt, brining together members of Parliamentary Security and Defence Committees (SDCs) from the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union (AIPU), namely from Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia. The objectives of the conference were to raise awareness of Iraq’s security sector reform (SSR) efforts; to promote peer-to-peer learning and collaboration on security sector oversight and accountability aspects amongst like-minded Parliamentary Committees in the region; and to initiate a regional platform to discuss relevant issues of common interests.

Speaking on behalf of the host nation, Head of Egypt’s Defence and National Security Parliamentary Committee, Mr. Kamal Amer, reaffirmed the importance of oversight aspects of long-term reform processes. “SSR is an on-going process; both important and challenging, it provides citizens with improved security sector services within a democratic framework.”

Head of Iraq’s SDC, Mr. Hakim al Zamili, said: “Security is the most important human aspect in addition to health, and security sector reforms are both critical and challenging. We remain grateful to UNDP for providing this opportunity to discuss these matters amongst regional counterparts.”

Co-chairing with Iraq’s SDC, UNDP’s Rule of Law Programme Manager, Ms. Chamila Hemmathagama, highlighted the importance of peer-to-peer learning: “Trust and good relationships are important in addressing challenging topics such as democratic governance and civilian oversight of SSR; and in this regard South - South approaches are especially effective and vital as parliamentarians from the same regions sharing common concerns, interests and challenges, can engage more easily together on important and at times sensitive issues.”

The conference provided an opportunity to introduce key elements of the Government of Iraq’s draft SSR Strategy, identify challenges, and explore opportunities related to parliamentary oversight tools in use within the AIPU member states, such as Legal Frameworks Hearings and Investigations. To strengthen future cooperation, participants proposed recommendations that included:

· Joint action to strengthen Arab Parliamentary oversight capacities with a view to allowing Parliamentary Committees to play an active role, including in protection of human rights and respect for due process.

· Undertake regular in-country visits to promote parliamentary cooperation and peer-to-peer knowledge sharing in security sector reform efforts.

· Identify ways to further strengthen regional cooperation amongst Arab countries in counter-terrorism efforts, and responsibility of security and defence institutions for detecting terrorist organizations and their funding sources.

Discussing their functions and legislative and oversight role on security and defence sector at the Egyptian Parliament premises following the conference, Egyptian and Iraqi counterparts agreed to develop bilateral relations. 

The conference was organized under Support to Security Sector Reform Phase II, a joint programme between UNDP and the Office of the National Security Advisor in Iraq (ONSA). It was made possible with generous funding from the Government of Denmark and the Kingdom of Netherlands.

Contact

Chamila Hemmathagama, Programme Manager, Rule of Law, (m) +964 751 184 3529

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