Command Post Exercise – CPX Africa UNiTE II for African Security Organs to end Violence Against Women and Girls

Date: Thursday, September 3, 2015

Group Photo: H.E. President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, guests of honor and participants to the CPX. Photo credit: Christian T. Mulumba/ UN Women
Group Photo: H.E. President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, guests of honor and participants to the CPX. Photo credit: Christian T. Mulumba/ UN Women
Rwanda hosted from 17 to 19 August 2015 an all Africa security organs Command Post exercise (CPX) themed: “African Security Organs’ Synergy to End Violence against Women and Girls”. This was organized by Rwanda security organs and the ONE UN Rwanda, under the auspices of the Kigali International Conference Declaration (KICD) Secretariat custodianship and the current KICD chair; following a decision made during the 4th KICD Annual General Meeting to conduct an exercise play to enhance capacities of Africa security organs in dealing with violence against women and girls.

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is the most widespread form of abuse worldwide. In response to this pervasive problem, UN Secretary General Ban Ki –Moon (on 25th February, 2008) initiated the global UNiTE Campaign to End violence against Women and Girls which aimed at preventing and eliminating VAWG in all parts of the world as well as providing services to survivors.

A regional component of the above global campaign, the ''Africa UNiTE'' Campaign was launched in 2010 in Rwanda. In an International conference on the role of security organs to end VAWG, African countries committed through ratification of the Kigali International Conference Declaration that specify obligations for the elimination of violence against women.

H.E. President Paul Kagame, Ms. Letty Chiwara and Mr. Lamin Manneh. Photo credit: Christian T. Mulumba/ UN Women
H.E. President Paul Kagame, Ms. Letty Chiwara and Mr. Lamin Manneh. Photo credit: Christian T. Mulumba/ UN Women
The CPX was officially launched on 18 August 2015 by the President of Rwanda H.E. Paul Kagame along with the KICD Chairman, Inspector General Emmanuel Gasana; Ms. Letty Chiwara, UN Women Representative to Ethiopia, AU and UNECA and Mr. Lamin Manneh, One UN Resident Coordinator in Rwanda.

In his remarks, the One UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Lamin Manneh commended the efforts made by the Government of Rwanda in preventing and responding to Gender-Based Violence cases: “If we take the example of the host country, Rwanda has established the Isange One Stop centers in many districts, providing a comprehensive package of services to GBV victims including medical, psychological, forensic and legal support. Furthermore, the Rwanda National Police and Rwanda Defense Force Gender Desks are now fully operational.” Mr. Lamin Manneh also saluted the support of H.E. the President to the HeForShe Campaign.

UN Women Representative to Ethiopia, African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Ms. Letty Chiwara commended the achievements made by the KICD since its launch and the importance of the Command Post Exercises. While addressing the relevance of the Africa UNiTE and KICD, she quoted the UNSG who said: “We must unite. Violence against women cannot be tolerated, in any form, in any context, in any circumstance, by any political leader or by any government”. Ms. Letty Chiwara requested to H.E. the President to support advocacy to the African Union to Integrate the KICD in the African Union Framework; considering that the UNiTE Campaign is coming to an end; which the president gladly accepted.

Figure 1H.E. President Paul Kagame flagging off the CPX practical training. Photo credit: Christian T. Mulumba/UN Women
Figure 1H.E. President Paul Kagame flagging off the CPX practical training. Photo credit: Christian T. Mulumba/UN Women
In his key note address, H.E. the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame emphasized that: “violence against women and girls is a violation of rights; a crime and a threat to progress in Africa and around the world. Our starting point is that this kind of abuse is completely unacceptable. Women are our mothers, our daughters, our wives… what debate is there in treating them as decently as we have to?” H.E. the President addressed directly members of Africa’s security organs and stated: “it requires more than words to protect women and girls from violence. Perpetrators must be held accountable and those who protect them must be shamed. The right mindset and values must be inculcated within the ranks and file of all our forces. There must be determination to act without fear or favor.” He also added: “let me encourage you to turn the theory into practice, now and for the rest of your careers. You have no higher calling.”

CPX Participants in the theoretical training. Photo credit: Christian T. Mulumba/UN Women
CPX Participants in the theoretical training. Photo credit: Christian T. Mulumba/UN Women
The Command Post Exercise – CPX was conducted in three Phases which included a theoretical training, practical exercises and an after action review. Each country1 was represented by an officer of the Defense Forces, an officer of the Police and an officer of the Correctional Services and Prisons.

Among other recommendations, participants to the CPX Africa Unite II expressed that security organs need to increase women's representation in military and police positions through affirmative actions; equity should be integrated in recruiting more women in the military and the police. It was argued that women's presence is highly beneficial in peacekeeping and security operations and therefore women must be recruited to such positions. GBV victims are generally much more trusting and comfortable reporting their experiences to women rather than men.

Unanimously, participants recommended that Rwanda shares its best practices from the Isange One Stop Centre – IOSC model in regards to the 24/7 free holistic care for victims of gender based violence as well other new improvements to the model such as the ongoing work to improving forensic measures (in order to gather evidence), the psychological support, as well as the economic reintegration of victims.