Program Stories

Written by WANEP
Category: Ghana

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By Justin Bayor
National Network Coordinator
In order to understand human security, it is essential to first look at the orthodox approach to security. The orthodox approach or westphalian concept of security, has its roots in the rise of the modern nation state in seventeenth century Europe. The first and perhaps the most significant factor shaping the behaviour of states was the idea that the international system was fundamentally anarchic with no overall governing authority to enforce rules, norms, laws, or more widely, some conception of international justice.

In such a self-help system, no state could be sure that its security would be guaranteed by any other body no matter how firm an alliance might appear at any given time. The supposed universal rationality of state actors meant that they would, by and large, converge around similar international policies and aspire to similar goals in order to render themselves as secure as possible in what was a perpetually insecure system. Most important to this assumption was a military framework that served to act as a minimum deterrent to external aggressors who could threaten the sovereignty of the state, embodied in its territory, boundaries, political institutions, and the general population’s right to self-determination.

What was therefore important for orthodox security on the basis of these assumptions was that in the international realm states pursued policies that were above the demands of any single group in society. The state society relationship, therefore, was separated from international relations, and this separation was necessary for security in the domestic realm. The interest of national security were said to be above and beyond those of any single group in domestic politics simply because if a state was not externally secure, there could be little hope of the goals of domestic politics (the good life for example) ever being realised. Thus, the state was the neutral arena within which the complexities of domestic political and social life could be played out.

However, dissatisfaction started growing with the orthodox or westphalian concept of security, one which reified the state and sanctioned the use of military power in defence against threats to territorial autonomy and domestic political order. This tradition was blind to the polymorphous nature of social power-gender, class, ethnicity, religion and age-and its development within and across territorial boundaries. The inter-sections between the various power bases created complex matrices of human rights abuse within the domestic jurisdiction of many nation-states. These abuses either remained invisible or were purposely concealed in the name of national security and social and/or cultural order. In addition, new non-military security issues with human rights implications emerged and acquired trans-national characteristics in conjunction with the intensification of global economic integration.

The dissatisfaction thus witnessed a fundamental departure from the traditional or orthodox realists thinking of security, which views the state as the exclusive primary referent object. Instead, human beings and their complex social and economic relations have now been given primacy with or over states, in line with the neoliberalist view of security.

Therefore, in today’s world ‘when we think about security we need to think beyond battalions and borders. We need to think about human security, about winning a different war, the fight against poverty.’ The UNDP notes that ‘For too long, the concept of security has been shaped by the potential for conflict between states. For too long, security has been equated with threats to a country’s borders. For too long, nations have sought arms to protect their security. For most people today, a feeling of insecurity arises more from worries about daily life than from the dread of a cataclysmic world event. Job security, health security, environmental security, security from crime, these are the emerging concerns of human security all over the world’.
Thus, human security, sometimes defined as 'Freedom from fear' and 'freedom from want' has now become the catch phrase of an approach to security in the post cold war era. Often referred to as 'people-centred security' or 'security with a human face', human security emphasizes the complex relationships and often-ignored linkages between human dignity, human rights, human poverty and development. Today all security discussions demand incorporation of the human dimension.

But for some scholars, human security is both about ‘the ability to protect people as well as to safeguard states’, whilst in some human security formulations such as that of former Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy, human needs rather than states needs are paramount. Axworthy believes this to be so in the aftermath of the cold war as intrastate conflicts have become more prevalent than interstate conflicts.
Human security is in essence an effort to construct a society where the safety of the individual is at the centre of the priorities..,; where human rights standards and the rule of law are advanced and woven into a coherent web protecting the individual...’’. The United Nations Commission on Human Security, defines human security as ‘the protection of the vital core of all human lives in ways that enhance human freedoms and human fulfilment, which stresses the importance of opportunities and choices to all human life”.

It is also important to note that all proponents of ‘human security’ agree that its primary goal is the protection of individuals. But consensus breaks down over what threats individuals should be protected from. Proponents of a narrow concept of human security, focus on violent threats to individuals, while proponents of a wider concept of human security argue that the threat agenda should be broadened to include hunger, disease and natural disasters because these kill far more people than war, genocide and terrorism combined.

In this light, National Security is not just about the security of the state. It is about the security of the state and also the security of the individuals within the state. It is basically about the protection of the individuals within the state whiles upholding the state. It is about protecting the individuals against violence as well as from hunger, disease, disaster etc. If lots of people are unemployed, then they are hungry and therefore it is a national security issue. If farmers’ crops are being destroyed by Fulani herdsmen and they go hungry, then it is a national security threat. In brief, National Security is both about the ability to protect individuals within a state as well as safeguard the state.


WANEP-GHANA uses soccer for Peace

By Albert Yelyang

Following violence that erupted somewhere in 2008 at Bamvim-Dohini, in the Tamale Metropolis between two chieftaincy factions led by Yahaya Manguli and Haruna Abu, and the simmering tensions thereof, the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding, Ghana (WANEP-GHANA), through its Ghana Alert Project (GAP) embarked on non-violent and peace The balls being presented to the captain of the Bamvim teamsensitization activities in the community between October and December 2009. One of the outcomes was the need to reduce tension by increasing interaction among the youth.

After intervening with the Police in a death threat which came after the murder of the chief of Gare Zegu, Sagnarigu, on Monday 22nd March 2010, WANEP-GHANA saw it necessary to revive and promote soccer which was recommended by the Dohini community members. Thus, a civil society team comprising WANEP-GHANA members engaged the community in a fun game. Though the scores were 6-2 against WANEP-GHANA, the technical support as well as physical presence of stakeholders such as the Regional Sports Council, Ghana Red Cross Society, Action Aid Ghana, and representatives of both community chiefs made the activity a huge success.

The non-factional team and community members of Bamvim being sensitized to be non-violentBoth feuding chiefs were more than glad that WANEP-GHANA had revived the games in the community which was interlaced with peace education talks. As part of contributions to kick start the games and to increase community interaction through soccer, two footballs were presented by WANEP-GHANA to the community.






'Unmask hidden faces financing conflicts'

THE security agencies have been called upon to institute tighter security measures that will unmask the hidden faces financing the acquisition and supply of weapons to perpetrators of conflicts in many parts of the country.

According to the Wesy Africa Network for Peacebuilding, Ghana (WANEP-GHANA),  which made the call, those masked financiers who stood behind the scenes and instigated vulnerable people, mostly the youth, to fight were the main profiteers of the conflicts. It noted, therefore, that exposing those shrouded faces and bringing them to book would stop the supply of weapons to feuding factions and that could make a major impact towards managing the conflicts.

The WANEP-GHANA made the call at a media briefing in Tamale in its bid to bring to light recent happenings in the country that posed a threat to national security. It was addressed by the National Network Co-ordinator of WANEP-GHANA, Mr Justin Bayor; the Vice-Chairman Mr Abdallah Kassim, and the Northern Regional Peace Promoter, Rev. Father Thaddeus Kuusah. Mr Bayor stated that between January and March this year there had been about mine recurrent violent actions in Bawku, 13 in Tamale, six in Yendi and four in the Bunkpurugu-Yunyoo area.

He said all those violent actions or threats were chieftaincy related, adding that similar incidents occurred at Gusheigu, Tuobodom and parts of the Western, Central and Greater Accra regions. “These statistics were collated by our electronic database centre which contains incident and situation reports fed into it by community surveillance teams, WANEP-GHANA chapter members and information gathered through interface meetings with stakeholders,” he explained.

Mr Bayor indicated that the kidnapping of chiefs, issuing of death threats to chiefs and the actual murder of chiefs were on the ascendancy, mostly resulting from disagreements over the choice and installation of chiefs. He sited instances at Danchira in the Ga West District of the Greater Accra Region and Shigu in the Tamale metropolis of the Northern Region where the chiefs of those two communities were murdered, after earlier signs of antagonism had characterised their selection. The Co-ordinator noted that in most of the violent incidents recorded, the youth emerged the main perpetrators. “It is worring to state that this phenomenon of youth violence is not peculiar to chieftaincy disputes but is gradually rearingits head in the body politic of the country. We are compelled to conclude that there is a serious social and moral breakdown in the country,” he lamented. He indicated that those unfortunate incidents of violence were being compounded by the inability of the security services to respond adequately and timely to the various incidents.

“WANEP-GHANA is renewing its call on international institutions and civil society groups to assist the government to bolster the manpower and logistical capacity of the security of the security services to enable then to respond to violent threats appropriately,” he urged.

Some of the peace-building practitioners further observed that the upsurge in chieftaincy-related violence in the first quarter of 2010 was an indication that the nation had failed to utilize early warning signals. According to them, a better appreciation of and response to early warning signals could have led to the proper management of those conflicts, which could have prevented the degeneration of such conflicts into violent situations.


WANEP-GHANA commends Martin Luther King Jr Award Winner

THE West Africa Network for Peacebuilding, Ghana (WANEP-GHANA) has commended Mrs. Janet Adama Mohammed, a grassroots peacebuilding practitioner, for being the proud recipient of this year’s Martin Luther King Jr Peace and Social Justice Award.

Mrs Mohammed was given the award by the United States Embassy in Accra, in recognition of her deep involvement in peace-building and emergency response to local and regional conflicts for over 20 years.

The citation accompanying the award noted that Mrs. Mohammed had devoted herself to the resolution of political and religious conflicts in northern Ghana by mobilizing the youth, women, farmers, elders and chiefs to create sustainable peace through dialogue and mutual understanding. According to the Vice-President of the Governing Council for WANEP-GHANA, Mr. Abdullah Kassim, the award to Mrs. Mohammed was in order, since, in his estimation, “Madam Janet eats and drinks peace-building.” He indicated that Mrs. Mohammed had been deeply involved in several peace-building initiatives at the grassroots as far back as to the Kokomba-Nanumba conflict in 1994. Mr. Kassim noted that the award to ‘Madam Janet’, as she is passionately called, brings honour to all who were involved in peace-building in the north. “It is an indication that the work we are doing in the north is not in vain. But is being recognized, not only by the beneficiaries, but also by the international community as well,” he stated. He said Mrs. Mohammed had worked with civil-society groups who formed WANEP-GHANA on several peace-building missions and “this is why we consider her award as an honour to WANEP-GHANA as well.” “We were with her during the sleepless nights, death-defying journeys and chancy peace mediations, which only a brave woman like her could lead,” Mr. Kassim said. He also noted that the actions and achievements of Mrs. Mohammed did not only bring peace to communities troubled by communal violence, but also inspired confidence in civil society groups and reminded them of their role in enlightening communities that violence was not the apt means of resolving conflicts.

The Martin Luther King Jr Peace and Social Justice Award was instituted to recognise Ghanaians whose endeavours help to nurture a culture of peacemaking, dialogue and conflict resolution, which were the traits of Dr King Jr’s freedom movement.

Mrs. Mohammed is the Director of the West Africa Human Rights Programme at IBIS, a Danish non-government organization that supports the development of all-inclusive democratic societies through civil-society strengthening and education development. 

Central Gonja Children March for Peace

School Children in Yapei and Kusawgu in the Central Gonja District have embarked on a peaceful procession through some of the streets in the town to drum home the need for peace in the district. The Human Help and Development Group (THUDEG), a Tamale based NGO, dedicated to working for the aged and children in deprived communities, organized the programme with the aim of using the children to advocate peace in Central Gonja District.

The West Africa Network for Peace-building, Ghana (WANEP-GHANA) under its "Ghana Alert Programme," funded THUDEG to embark on a peace project, which would use children to educate communities about the need for peace in the country. The choice of Central Gonja for the peace march is partly because of the rampant chieftaincy clashes which undermine peace in the area. Having peace would attract also more businesses for socio-economic prosperity. The children held placards, some of which read; "Politicians, please give us Peace but not War," "Love Peace for the sake of God," and "No Peace, No Development." They chanted peace songs during the procession. Mr. Kenneth Addae, Executive Director of THUDEG, addressing the children after the march in Yapei, claimed that there were looming conflicts in the district and, therefore, urged the security personnel to remain on the alert.

He said the Central Gonja District was becoming the business and industrial hub of the Northern Region because of the sheanut processing plant and the Buipe Cement Factory, and stressed the need to maintain peace and security in the area.

Mr. Addae appealed to chiefs and opinion leaders in the Northern Region to unite and plan the development of the region to ensure that investors locate there to give the youth employment and enable them to avoid the temptation of patronizing conflicts.  

WANEP-GHANA supports community surveillance teams in flash points

The West Africa Network for Peace building, Ghana (WANEP-GHANA), is supporting surveillance teams in 15 conflict flash points in five regions to identify and to report early warning signal to the security apparatus for action. The pilot flash points communities are Bunkpurugu/Yunyoo, Gushiegu, Bimbilla, Buipe, Tamale and Yendi in the Northern Region.

The rest are Talensi-Nabdam, Bawku and Zebilla in the Upper East Region; Gaa, Nyoli, Nadowli and Wa West in the Upper West Region and Zongo and Adaklu Anyigbe in Brong Ahafo and Volta regions respectively.

The surveillance teams are to identify the cultural, social and economic ties of the people in the communities and to liaise with institutions such as chieftaincy and youth groups to see how best they could coexist for peace and development.

The Department for International Development (DFID) through Christian Aid is sponsoring WANEP-GHANA under its Ghana Alert Project to support the communities as a means of averting conflicts.

The Ghana Alert project of WANEP-GHANA is designed to cover three main areas namely, building capacity and ownership of peace building, increasing collaboration of stakeholders and civil society groups in peace-building and establishing national early warning systems.

In a meeting with some of the surveillance teams from the Northern Region in Tamale on Monday, Mr Albert Yelgang, Data Analyst at WANEP-GHANA Early Warning Centre, advised members to work diligently to ensure that their work yielded positive results.

He said there was the need as part of their work to trace the historical positions of conflicts in flash points communities and the nature of the conflicts in order to provide reliable recommendations.

Mr Yelgang said reports from some of the teams so far had helped to identify chieftaincy, family, intra-party conflicts, land and cross border related issues.

He said some of the conflicts were avoidable if politicians stopped fanning them and expressed the hope that the surveillance teams would be extended to other areas after a successful outcome of the pilot of phase.

Mr Yelgang advised members of the teams to promptly alert WANEP-GHANA on any suspicious character or actions of individuals that had the tendency of generating into conflict.