Operationalisation of EASF critical to security of the region and promoting development
The East Africa Standby Force (EASF) policy organs meeting was officially opened by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Paul Adam on behalf of President James Michel at the Savoy Resort this morning.
The meeting was a milestone event following a weeklong preparation and deliberations by Ministers of Defence and heads of delegation of the EASF, which will effectively transform the EASF into an operational structure.
Fundamentally,Minister Adam emphasised that the operationalisation of EASF will offer an ‘African solution to global security problems.’.
The main thrust of the extraordinary meeting held in Seychelles will precipitate the establishment of an operational force by the end of this year which is testament to the determination of the Eastern African regions engaging on all matters pertaining to security.
In his opening remarks, Minister Adam noted that more than most, a small island state like Seychelles with an expansive maritime zone is cognizant of the value of shared security. He highlighted that collective security is achievable through durable partnerships such as the EASF.
Minister Adam further noted that despite Seychelles’ geographic limitations it was prepared to contribute significantly to resolve regional and global challenges as evidenced by Seychelles proactive role in combatting and curbing the scourge of Somali based piracy.
Security threats have changed significantly in the past years whereby non-state actors pose an increased threat to global peace. “The global nature of security threats imply that they are not only land-based but also extend to the vast expanses of our ocean,” remarked the Minister.
The issue of maritime piracy is but one of much broader maritime security challenge to the east African region. Minister Adam noted “drug trafficking, arms trafficking, illegal fishing and terrorism are some the threats that exploit the open sea as highway of criminality. By usurping our sea-routes, they undermine the fabric of our sovereignty as nations.”
Maritime insecurity impacts global trade networks on which all nations are reliant regardless of their proximity to the ocean. Minister Adam urged all member states to intensify their efforts to ensure the Indian Ocean’s maritime security, to ensure continued economic opportunities for all peoples in the region and develop the ‘Blue Economy’ initiative- a driving force in Seychelles’ active diplomacy.
If East Africa is to reach it’s full potential, preemptive approaches in the form of information sharing must be taken to to combat the risks posed, explained the Minister. In this view, Minister Adam, welcomed the proposal of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in creating a forum that will gather countries of the Indian Ocean region- including many members of EASF to share information on Transnational Organised Crime. This structure could further complement the information sharing mechanism that Seychelles has put into place- the ‘Regional Fusion and Law Enforcement Centre for Safety and Security at Sea’ (REFLECS3). Minister Adam encouraged members of the EASF to join REFLECS3 to further improve the security of the region.
Minister Adam reaffirmed Seychelles commitments to the ideals of the African Union and the principles enshrined in the operationalisation of the Standby Force. Despite Seychelles’ relative size, the country will provide ten military officers and ten police officers to facilitate the work of the secretariat of EASF. In addition, Seychelles will deploy the coastal refueling tanker- ‘Seychelles Paradise’ to provide logistical support EASF future deployments.
Minister Adam highlighted the correlation between security development. “Security is a component of development; as economic prosperity and social well being are dividends of a fair distribution of wealth and prosperity, he said.” This resonates in Seychelles as the country is grounded in the principle of people- centred development.
Minister Adam noted that Seychelles would not shirk its moral obligation to contribute to a secure region and safer world. He concluded by reiterating that EASF represents a coming together of nations promoting an inclusive view of development and security.