The Founder and Executive Director of ACCORD, Vasu Gounden, was invited by USAID South Africa to attend a roundtable discussion on AFRICOM (United States Africa Command), the new unified combatant command of the U.S. military.
The meeting was held in Pretoria on 13 July 2007. Mr. Gounden was accompanied by the Manager of ACCORD’s Peace & Security Unit, Karishma Rajoo and Walter Lotze, who is currently serving an internship with ACCORD in the Peace & Security Unit.
The goal of the U.S Africa Command is to help build the capacity of African nations and African organizations, such as the African Standby Force, to promote peace and security and to respond to crises on the Continent. The command will also coordinate the U.S. Department of Defence’s support to other U.S. Government programmes for Africa in the areas of diplomacy and development, to help make those efforts more effective. The command will be first established as a sub-unified command, subordinate to the U.S. European Command (EUCOM), with an initial operational capability by October 2007 and the establishment of a separate unified command no later than the end of 2008.
Attending the meeting along with a delegation from EUCOM was Theresa Whelan (United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for African Affairs within the Office of the Secretary of Defense). Ms Whelan’s office is responsible for the U.S. Department of Defense’s policy for all of Sub-Saharan Africa. The meeting was also attended by South African NGO’s South African Think Tanks, international NGO’s and US Embassy and USAID Representatives.
ACCORD's Peace and Security Unit conducts peacekeeping training for military and civilian personnel, who are possible candidates for deployment to peace support missions, provides contributions to policy debates around collective security in the sub-region, and undertakes research to better understand peacekeeping concepts and lessons learned for sub-regional relevance. The programme also undertakes advocacy-related activities in an effort to popularize civilian peacekeeping, civil-military co-ordination and related concepts.