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Rights-based Approach to Security Sector Governance and Accountability

Promote a rights-based approach to security sector governance and accountability and respond to existing and emerging security challenges

The numerous conflicts in Nigeria’s North-East and North West regions have become complex and a serious National crises. The country has applied a securitised approach in dealing with the insurgency in the North-East and banditry in the North-West regions yet the level of insecurity is worse and spreading fast across the country. After over a decade of violence due to the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East and and banditry in the Northwest, there is an urgent need to shift the approach, apply a rights based approach and strenghten the relationship between formal security actors and civilians. In principle, the government recognises the need for non-military approaches and the value in respecting citizen rights. In the case of the North-East, military operations have intensified; this approach moved from the initial focus of ‘garrison towns’ with restrictions placed on movement of civilians in the towns beyond a specified perimeter. Recently, the approach changed to ‘Super Camps’ not in the intention of specifically protecting civilians but ensuring that military Forward Operation Bases (FOBs) were fortified enough to prevent attacks from Armed Opposition Groups (AOGs). This exposed civilians to further attacks and the level of protection and coverage by the military waned. Communities are not included in decisions that affect them when it comes to security and past violations by the military especially against youths and women have resulted into lack of trust and reoccuring tension between the military and civilians.  The level of accountability on the actions of formal security forces has been weak in the face of war including channels for seeking redress. It is important to strengthen established systems for tracking human rights abuses and preventing further violations. CLEEN Foundation with the support of Open Society Africa established an online based platform for documentation of human right violations ( with ownership by the security oversight agencies (National Human Rights Commission, Police Service Commission, Ministry of Police Interior, Army Human Rights Desk and Complaints Response Unit of the Nigeria Police Force.).  These institutions are responsible for the oversight of security agencies and  actions of the security operatives.


Furthermore, these abuses have affected relationships between civilians and security agencies. Initiatives that strenghten this relationship, make decision-making on security inclusive and strenghten CSO capacity for advocacy would be ideal to close the widening gap between communities and security forces.   Civilian participation in security management is limited but there is a strong demand for greater inclusion. Civilians (including traditionally marginalised groups like women and youth) are increasingly participating in local conflict management platforms and can make significant contribution to peace and security policy and practice. They have local knowledge on the solutions to conflict and insecurity thay can be adopted while  existing structures are functional and institutionalized for contructive engagement., Nigeria risk losing the value of a multi-stakeholder contribution to peace and security if action is not taken immediately. Civilians are keen to understand the mandate(s) of security agencies, degree of effort required including infomation sharing and specific areas they can contribute to. This proposed project would address the gaps, foster better civilian-security relationship that is underpinned by inclusion, respect for human rights and accountability.


Hence, CLEEN Foundation in partnership with International Alert and support from Open Society Africa is implementing a 12 month  project aimed at  Promoting a rights-based approach to security sector governance, accountability and respond to existing and emerging security challenges. The project’s strategy is underpinned by evidence generation through research, Human Rights Documentation, strategic and community level advocacy to key stakeholders especially oversight agencies, capacity building and lessons learning events and strenghtening civil-military cooperation. The primary beneficiaries are civilians, civil society organizations with a focus on  security, inclusivity, human rights, women and youths, aimed at increasing the knowledge base, skills and meaningful participation in security-related decision-making.

It is our belivee that; IF Security Actors and State authorities are more accountable, adhere to human rights Laws and are able to respond to security challenges in a conflict and gender sensitive manner, while Civilians are equipped with relevant capacities to provide oversight, and IF civilians inclusively and meaningufully participate in security related decision making proceses, THEN safety and security for civilians will be improved alongside citizens-state relationship, thereby reducing violence.