Op-ed: Elena Marzac – The role of the civil society for the security sector reform

8 October 2020

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Op-ed: Elena Marzac – The role of the civil society for the security sector reform

On October 7, the Information and Documentation Center on NATO organized a round table on “The importance of the DCBI for the reform of the security sector of the Republic of Moldova”. The purpose of the event was to bring to the public’s attention aspects related to the reform of the security sector, NATO’s contribution to the progress made in the modernization of the armed forces, the benefits of the initiative and the next steps to be taken.
– Elena Mârzac, Executive Director of the IDC on NATO
– Barbora Paclíková, Defense Capacity Building Coordinator, NATO Liaison Office in the Republic of Moldova
– Gheorghe Donica, Senior Officer, Defense Policy and Defense Planning Directorate, Ministry of Defense
– Viorel Cibotaru, independent expert, Minister of Defense in 2015

A safe and stable environment is vital for sustainable development. The idea of ​​the concept of security sector reform is to provide support for the reorganization of the security sector in accordance with democratic norms and the rule of law, in order to ensure the security of the population. The Republic of Moldova needs external assistance to take over good practices, expertise and techniques for counteracting or resolving threats and risks to its security.

Elena Mârzac addressed the role of civil society in reforming the security and defense sector. The involvement of civil society, academia and the media in the security sector is a condition for the formation of political will, which can only be developed through active cooperation between the civil and government sectors. The main mission of civil society is to initiate debates on security and defense issues, to monitor and provide alternative analyzes on certain aspects of security. Increasing awareness will serve as an important step in encouraging public debate and promoting political and social change. The efficiency of communication with the public on security issues depends on the volume and accuracy of the information made public by the Government, Parliament and development partners.

Two-way communication – dialogue – is important because (i) it ensures permanent participation and control by citizens, (ii) it increases public confidence in the functioning of state institutions, (iii) it offers control over potentially mismanagement and (iv) ensure public support and legitimacy for the legislature and government policies.

The ability of citizens to obtain the necessary information about the initiatives and policies of institutions with responsibilities in the field of security and defense and to analyze the impact of these programs, policies and decisions on them is a fundamental element of the concept of good governance. A democratic society requires debates on issues of major social importance, and free access to information is a fundamental premise for the active participation of citizens in the decision-making process, especially in such complex areas as security and defense. In today’s security environment, strategic communication is used to gain credibility, legitimacy and support for citizens.
The result of an effective strategic communication will essentially contribute to the reform of the security and defense sector, the legitimacy of the implemented policies and actions. The development of countermeasures and the dissemination of narratives must be a joint effort, requiring the active involvement of all state institutions and civil society. It is important to know the advantages that the Republic of Moldova can benefit from various cooperation and their awareness will contribute to objective reflection.

Referring to the cooperation with NATO, Elena Mârzac states the cooperation of the Republic of Moldova with the North Atlantic Alliance during the 25 years has evolved over time and has included several collaboration tools adjusted to its needs. The cooperation is in the interest of the Republic of Moldova, but also in the interest of NATO, due to the geo-strategic position of our country. NATO partnerships are beneficial to all parties involved and contribute to improving security for a wider international community. The partners are part of many of NATO’s core activities, from policy-making to defense capacity building, interoperability development and crisis management. NATO programs also help partner countries to develop their own institutions and defense and security forces. The Moldova-NATO Partnership is based on the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP). A first plan was signed in 2006 and is usually renewed every 2 years. The new IPAP for the next 2 years is to be approved.

The cooperation of the Republic of Moldova with NATO within the PfP takes place in both the military and civilian sectors. In the military field, the Republic of Moldova benefits from NATO support in order to continue the process of reforming the army and creating a modern, mobile and cost-effective military force. The Republic of Moldova, in cooperation with NATO, focuses on advancing the process of reforming and modernizing the security and national defense sector, in accordance with the new developments and requirements of the security environment. Cooperation with NATO is not against the national interest of the Republic of Moldova in ensuring the country’s sovereignty and integrity under conditions of neutrality and is based on the need to modernize the security and defense and related sectors.

The Republic of Moldova has benefited from access to the defense planning mechanisms provided by the North Atlantic Alliance, which have had a positive impact on the development of our defense and security capabilities. Other priority dimensions in capitalizing on the partnership with NATO are supporting civilian authorities, developing science through the Science for Peace and Program, collaborating with the media, civil society and academia through public diplomacy programs.

Elena Mârzac states that NATO initiatives and projects address all categories of citizens and respond to the challenges and threats facing our country, in particular, but also the threats at regional or international level (ecological problem, terrorism, illegal trafficking, cybercrime, assistance in crisis situations etc). Developing capacities to respond to these challenges, and working with partners is essential in strengthening national security and involvement in ensuring regional security. The North Atlantic Alliance implements projects that address civil society as well, in an attempt to respond as coherently as possible to the challenges and threats that the organization faces both in the geographical area covered and outside it.

The director of the IDC on NATO mentions that each partner determines the pace, scope and intensity of the partnership with NATO, as well as the individual objectives. NATO support for the country’s reform efforts and for capacity building in the defense and security sector has been intensified through the Defense Capacity Building Initiative (DCBI). With reference to this topic, Elena Mârzac underlined the following:
– Starting in 2014, the DCBI strengthens NATO’s commitment to partners and helps stabilize projects, providing support to nations seeking assistance from NATO capabilities.
– DCBI can include various types of assistance, from strategic advice on defense and security sector reform and institution building, to the development of local forces through education and training, advice and assistance in specialized areas such as logistics or cyber defense .
– The DCBI package responds to the government’s request to assist in the process of transforming the defense, strengthening and modernizing the armed forces of the Republic of Moldova and reforming its national security structures.
– The Defense Capacity Building Program of the Republic of Moldova is a priority national interest in the context of the latest changes and geopolitical challenges taking place in the region, requiring the necessary measures to strengthen the security and defense sector.