Ask an Expert

In the interest of sharing and highlighting the tremendous expertise in the peacebuilding field, "Ask an Expert" provides an opportunity for you to have your questions answered by leading scholars and practitioners. Initial interview questions and responses will be posted by the research team. We invite you to submit your own questions on a related topic. We will review your submission and select questions for response.

Sagar Raj Sharma

Sagar Raj Sharma holds a PhD in Development Economics from Fukuoka University, Japan. He has worked extensively in the fields related to Foreign Aid, Development, Private Sector and Land Reform in Nepal. He has the experience of working in the development sector both as an academician and a practitioner. He also has the experience of teaching Development Economics and International Development Management in Fukuoka University, Japan. In addition to that he has worked as an Economic Advisor at the Nepalese Consulate Office in Japan and as the National Development Consultant for the UN HABITAT. He is currently in charge of the graduate programme at the Human and Natural Resources Studies Center (HNRSC) at Kathmandu University.

Questions and Answers

Q: What has been the impact of the private sector on Nepalese peacebuilding? In what ways has it advanced the peacebuilding agenda?

A: The impact of the private sector on peacebuilding is still being assessed. Potentially the private sector can do a lot. Actively engaging with the government as well as other stakeholders, including donors, is very important for image building and pressure building. So far the private sector has been playing the blame game against the government, but that alone will not help. The private sector needs to come up with its own initiatives to raise awareness among the people, engage in dialogue with all the stakeholders, and do more on corporate social responsibility so that it wins back its credibility and increases visibility.

Q: Have organizational structures, such as the National Business Initiative (NBI) and the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI), helped bridge the gap between the private sector and civil society? If yes, in what ways?

A: Definitely, a good start has been made. But civil society is embroiled in political issues too much, and as a result has had little interaction with the business community. The business community, for its part, is not skeptical of the general public. However there is a fairly negative image of the private sector among the average masses, which see it only as a profit making body.

Q: What links do you see between skills training, migratory work, the private sector and remittances for development in post-conflict society?

A: In any post-conflict society, all of the above are very important and can play a significant role in the restructuring of society. In Nepal, the remittances pouring in from abroad have played a visible role in increasing the living standards of both the rural and urban poor, which has, at least indirectly, contributed to mitigation of social unrest. However, opportunities for migrating abroad for work is still not easily available for all, especially the ultra poor. Also, even for those who do get that opportunity, they are sent abroad with very little, if any, skill training. As a result, what the Nepalese migrants send back home is very little in comparison with other countries that only send skilled workers abroad. Private sector could play a leading role in this area.

Q: What is the current status of land reform in Nepal? What do you see as the most important components of land reform for Nepal’s post-conflict environment?

A: Land reform has been a very contentious issue in Nepal for centuries now. The prevailing mindset among the big landowners is still very feudal. But the dialogue regarding land reform in Nepal is progressing quite well. Most of the stakeholders agree on the necessity of land reform, but there is a big disagreement on the ‘how’ part of it. Although very attractive to listen to, distributing the land among the landless people, alone, will not solve the problems. The issue of types and uses of land, productivity, modernization of agriculture, and access to market, among others, are very crucial components of land reform.

Q: What are the biggest challenges in implementing land reform?

A: Political will is the biggest challenge. This is followed by the lack of research-based policies, outdated data and its manipulation by the political leaders. There is a need for an integrated approach to policy making, for example, between practitioners, target groups, academicians and policy makers.



Dr. Osman Gbla

Dr. Osman GblaDr. Gbla is a Senior Lecturer and Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences and Law, at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone and the Founder of the Centre for Development and Security Analysis (CEDSA), an organization focusing on Security Sector Reform and regional security, governance, peace and conflict, children and youth development, gender and the environment. He served as the lead consultant in the preparation of a shadow report on the PBC (2007), a member of the DFID Review Team of the Sierra Leone Governance and Civil Service Reform Programme II (2007) and a member of the team to carry out a Capacity Assessment of the Defence (2008). A selection of his publications includes: “Security Sector and the Sustainability of Peace and Democracy in Sierra Leone,” Journal of Social Sciences and Management (JSSM) Vol.1 No.1, January 2007; “Security Sector Reform in Sierra Leone” in Len Le. Roux and Yemane, Kidane, ed, Challenges to Security Sector Reform in the Horn of Africa, ISS Monograph No.135, May 2007; and “The 2007 Elections and Sustainability of Peace and Democracy in Sierra Leone” in Carin ed, Reconciling Winners and Losers in Post-Elections in West Africa, Nordic Africa Institute. Dr. Gbla holds a BA, an Msc Econ and a Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science from Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, as well as a Diploma in Advanced International Conflict Resolution from Uppsala University, Sweden.

Questions and Answers

Q: What has been the greatest success of security sector in Sierra Leone?

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A: The greatest success of security sector reform in Sierra Leone is the recreation of a national security architecture that is much more responsive with multi-dimensional approach to security emphasizing human security as a critical factor for national development and stability. This is a radical departure from the past conception of a security architecture that prioritized physical security especially of the state. The forces especially the armed forces and police emerging from the SSR are not only trained in issues like human rights but also civil-military relations. The police reform programme for instance put emphasis on community policing – bringing together the civilians and the police in efforts to ensure internal peace and security as there are now police-partnerships boards with membership drawn from the police and civil society.

Q: What is the greatest remaining challenge to security sector reform in Sierra Leone?

A: The greatest remaining challenge to security sector reform in Sierra Leone is building capacity for security sector oversight by parliament and civil society to ensure security sector governance. Whilst there is marked improvement in building strong armed forces and police for combat readiness especially to bring about internal peace, there is very little capacity especially for parliament and civil society to provide effective oversight functions over the security forces. Parliament for example, has numerous legal powers to provide oversight functions over the security forces through committees like the Defence, Internal and Presidential Affairs. These committees do not only have powers to call heads of relevant security institutions to provide explanations for actions but to also request the submission of evidence and documents. However, these committees like most others in parliament is highly constrained in terms of support staff, research facilities and even required resources like computers , photocopiers and internet access. Civil society groups are also supposed to be very important players in ensuring security sector governance as they are increasingly been looked upon in efforts to keep government in check. Like parliament , civil society groups also have very weak capacity for effective oversight over the security forces. Only few of these groups including the Centre for Development and Security Analysis (CEDSA) and the Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) have recently ventured out into the security arena in need of capacity building to provide oversight functions. There is need for training for these groups in ate area of security sector oversight as well as support to promote advocacy work.

Q: What kind of practical regional cooperation, mechanisms and programs are in place to minimize the circulation of small arms and armed groups especially those dissatisfied by the DDR or SSR programs among Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire and beyond the region?

A: There are some practical regional arrangements to minimize the circulation of small arms and armed groups. One of these is the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Moratorium on the Importation , Exportation and Manufacture of light weapons. There is however a need to transform this initiative into a binding convention in the West African sub-region. There is also the Mano River Union (MRU) Joint Security Commission (JSC). There is urgent need to capacitate the MRU as years of conflicts in Liberia and Sierra Leone rendered it dormant.

Q: What challenges remain to regional stability?

A: There are many challenges remaining to regional stability in West Africa. Foremost among these is the availability of a pool of young, unemployed, unskilled and sometimes unemployable youth in the West African sub-region. West Africa , you will agree with me has a very youthful population especially between the age bracket of 15 and 35. These huge number of youths coupled with very weak economic and governance structures among other things created a ready pool of recruits by armed groups like the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) Sierra Leone and the National Patriotic Front of Liberia ( NPFL) that plunged both countries in the recently concluded conflicts.

There is also the challenge of handling roaming ex-combatants that did not fully reintegrate into society in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote d'Ivoire. Most of these have the potential to destabilize post-conflict peace building initiatives in the sub-region. Also important here are the circulation of small weapons and the influx of refugees in the region.

Q: What are three lessons from the SSR process that you would like to share with practitioners?

A: Firstly, that a successful SSR programme could be one that is done in a comprehensive and interrelated fashion. This means targeting all related institutions of the security sector including the armed forces, police, immigration, correctional forces and the judicial system. This was the case in Sierra Leone.

Secondly, that a successful SSR is one that is anchored on a sustained and continued financial support . This is the case because SSR is expensive in both time and money. In Sierra Leone, the UK with Africa Conflict Prevention Pool funding managed by DFID has been able to financially sustain the reform programme.

Thirdly, although there is need for external support , national ownership and sustainability should be seriously considered. Too much external reliance for SSR programme could undermine national ownership and sustainability.

The news, reports, and analyses herein are selected due to there relevance to issues of peacebuilding, or their significance to policymakers and practitioners. The content prepared by HPCR International is meant to summarize main points of the current debates and does not necessarily reflect the views of HPCR International or the Program of Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research. In addition, HPCR International and contributing partners are not responsible for the content of external publications and internet sites linked to this portal.