The Founder and Executive Director of ACCORD, Vasu Gounden, has been invited by the Embassy of Sweden in Pretoria to participate in an exploratory Security Sector Reform (SSR) meeting at the embassy on 5 March. The meeting is a pre-meeting to a bilateral seminar to be hosted by the Swedish National Defence College (SNDC) in Stockholm in June 2007.
In 2003 a Peace and Security Working Group (PSWG) was established during a South African-Swedish Bi-national Commission (BNC) meeting. The PSWG serves to encourage cooperation at a strategic level between Sweden and South Africa and has facilitated in-depth briefings and discussions on peace and security matters between the two governments, mainly about, but not limited to, Africa. The idea of initiating an intensified bilateral dialogue within the framework of SSR was discussed during the visit of the Swedish Under Secretary of Defence to South Africa in May 2006 and was further elaborated on during a PSWG meeting in South Africa in October 2006. The targeted participants for the SSR Seminar are key South African and Swedish officials in the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Ministries of Defence, Defence HQ, and police. From civil society various institutes and organizations have been identified which might have valuable experience and competence within the field of SSR.
Since 1995 ACCORD has run a Training for Peace in Africa programme, whose main objective is peacekeeping capacity building for civilian and military personnel through training in peacekeeping and peace-building, research on peace and security issues and policy development at the practical and conceptual level in Africa. ACCORD also runs an African Civil Military Coordination programme, whose main objective is to enhance the capacity of African troop contributing countries and selected training institutions to provide civil military coordination training for participation in peace support operations.
A delegation from Sweden has traveled to South Africa to participate in the Pretoria meeting with the aim of informing the forthcoming seminar in June and to give input to the agenda for the seminar. The delegation will also present the purpose and vision for the SSR June seminar. It is also hoped that out of the exploratory meeting today that proposals for future bilateral collaboration on SSR issues will be developed, which will be referred to the PSWG for its consideration at the bilateral seminar in June. The delegation from Sweden includes representatives from the SNDC, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sida and the Folke Bernadotte Academy.
The delegation will hold a separate individual meeting with Mr. Gounden on 6 March, at the Swedish Embassy. Members of the delegation, headed by Mikael Wilhelmsson, the Administrative Director at the Department for Security and Strategic Studies at the SNDC, will then visit ACCORD House in Durban on 8 March to meet with ACCORD staff and to learn more about ACCORD’s current and future SSR activities.
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) is one of ACCORD’s larger donors which contributes substantially to ACCORD’s activities on the continent of Africa. In March 2006 Sida held its biannual strategic Africa conference in Durban, South Africa, which was attended by about 45 aid officials from Sweden and Sida’s missions in Africa. Since the conference focused on conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction in Africa, ACCORD was invited to host the first two days of discussions. In 2006 Vasu Gounden was a resource person at two of the Folke Bernadotte Academy’s leadership workshops – “Facilitation of Dialogue Processes and Mediation Efforts” in March in Sandö, Sweden and their course on “Dialogue and Mediation for the UNDPA” in Bear Mountain, New York (USA).