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By William H. Arrey, Ph.D (PDF Version)

In an interconnected world, security must be deemed a global public good.  In many parts of Africa, whenever security issues are at stake, military and strategic considerations take centre stage. Security is largely approached from a legitimate state’s monopoly on violence, assessing governmental stability and capacity to contain non-state armed and “terrorists” groups.

The fundamental questions that inform this policy paper are: Can a national security initiative be effective and capable of facilitating sustainable peace and development processes while excluding strategic stakeholders such as women (alongside children) and youth who are mostly considered as victims; and sometimes perpetrators of violent conflicts (especially young men)? What are the challenges to implementing inclusive and human-centred approaches to security for sustainable peace and development in Africa? What are the implications for security policy and practice? This paper moves with the assumption that for national security initiatives to be effective and be able to contribute to sustainable peace and development in Africa, governments must adopt an ‘inclusive and human-centred framework of analysis with women and youth as strategic partners. The analysis in this paper contributes to our understanding that state-centric notion of security, which prioritises the territorial integrity of the state and the adoption of military strategies in addressing violent conflict ‘episodes[1]’ and security threats, falls short of tackling the human dimension of insecurity and the ‘epicentre[2]’of violent conflicts, for sustainable peace and development.

Thus, the key conclusion reached is that ifgovernments of conflict affected and fragile states in Africa do not urgently and actively invest in inclusive and human-centred approaches to security sector reforms with women and youth[3]at the ‘front and centre stage’;international, continental and national development policy frameworks[4]will at best be unsustainable and at worst remain at the level of aspirations. The security issues addressed in this paper have important implications for policy and practice in many African countries currently experiencing complex security challenges such as the case in Cameroon. International development partners will find the analysis and its policy recommendations relevant as they collaborate with African governments in facilitating the implementation of inclusive and human-centred security frameworks at national and local levels.


Key words: State-centric security, human-centred security, inclusive security, security mechanisms, policy frameworks, policy implementation, sustainable peace, sustainable development, women, youth, Cameroon, Africa

[1]The outbreak of violent conflicts.

[2]The deep rooted and structural issues that led to the violent conflict and insecurity in the first place.

[3]For example, by developing inclusive and people-centred national action plans for the effective implementation of key international inclusive security instruments such as UNSCR1325 on women, peace and security and UNSCR 2250 on youth, peace and security.

[4]Such as Sustainable Development Agenda 2030, African Union Agenda 2063 and national visions for economic emergence (such as vision 2035 for an emerging and democratic Cameroon, united in its diversity)

Dr. William Hermann Arrey is a Senior Fellow in Peace & Security /Governance & Democracy Policy Sections, Nkafu Policy Institute. He is also currently the Head of the Department of Peace and Development Studies at the Protestant University in Cameroon based in Yaoundé