The impact of many SSR projects, which I had the opportunity to work on in Liberia, is very visible. One of the most special projects is one that supports the establishment of gender units in security sector institution.
Currently, there is a small percentage of women in security institutions; for example, in the Armed Forces of Liberia it is just 4%. We are in the process of developing outreach programmes in communities and radio aiming to encourage women to enrol at security institutions.
As part of this project, an assessment was conducted where we found that female security personnel are also being systematically subject to discriminatory practices, including sexual harassment, confinement to traditional roles and tasks, and a lack of opportunities for training or promotion.
Through the establishment of gender offices at each of the institutions, this project will facilitate the participation of women in SSR decision-making, planning, and oversight. The project will have a long term impact on the way that the security sector in Liberia addresses Sexual and Gender-based Violence cases, one of the most serious issues being faced by the country. In addition, this project aims to ensure that the UNMIL and the Liberian Security Sector comply with the standards set forth in various international human rights instruments.
I also envisioned the creation of a successful SSR Think Tank at the University of Liberia, which is advancing the principles of democratic governance and oversight in SSR. By supporting a university in undertaking an oversight function, UNMIL is building the capacity of local professors and students to investigate, analyse, and produce local knowledge on the country’s SSR process, and therefore ensuring national ownership over the thinking and shaping of SSR processes in the country.
I believe that the work of the SSR Team is vital for sustainable peace and development. We are working very hard to support the government to make the Liberian people feel safe and secure, while having confidence in their state.
On July 2016, thirteen years since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Accra in August 2003, I was happy to see the government taking over all security responsibilities from UNMIL, which previously had been one of the largest peacekeeping missions with a contingent of over 15,000 people.
While challenges remain, particularly leading up to the 2017 presidential elections, the transition of the main security tasks handed over to national security institutions was a success.
I am glad to be able to contribute to the sustainability of peace and development of the country as a UN Volunteer. Besides gaining a lot of experience in my own professional development in a field that I love, I have gained the most valuable gift: seeing UN actions positively impact and transform another country and the lives of its people.
Seeing this happen was unique because it shows that peace is possible.
Bio: Germana Dalberto is a criminal lawyer and sociologist, and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of São Paulo, where she is researching Security Sector Reform (SSR) processes in post-conflict societies. She has experience working in Security Sector Reform (SSR) policy and research activities in Haiti, Palestine, the US, Brazil, and now, in Liberia. She also has legal and political experience working as a criminal lawyer, project manager, and later, as an adviser to the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security Committee) and the Sixth Committee (Legal Committee) of the UN General Assembly at the Brazilian Mission to the UN in New York.
Germana Dalberto is one of 114 international UN Volunteers currently serving with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), alongisde another 14 national UN Volunteers.