The Security Sector in Morocco and the Broader Reform Agenda (ARI Working Group Report, Rabat, March 14-15, 2009)
This third meeting on the security sectors of Arab countries was held in Rabat, Morocco after Cairo and Beirut.
Its was convened by ARI’s member institute, the Centre d’études et de recherches en sciences sociales and focused in large part on the Moroccan case.
A large number of senior representatives from the Moroccan security sector attended and engaged with Moroccan civil society organizations, participated in discussions and exchanged views with experts from other Arab countries. Non-Moroccan experts were in turn very involved in discussing and seeking to understand in detail and learn from the Moroccan case which they found particularly inspiring.
The discussions were primarily focused on the political and institutional conditions for implementing an SSR scheme that would be effective. We hardly mentioned the technical aspects of SSR. The strong presence of civil society and human rights organizations, the media and scholars engaging with the representatives from the sector itself allowed for a thorough discussion of what are the key obstacles to reform, what has been achieved so far and the reasons behind the progress in some areas, the key players and processes who were successful in pushing the agenda forward, the shortcomings of the process, the question of what reforms can be implemented in the sector alone as opposed to those dependent on broader reforms in the overall political system.
Morocco underwent major tensions in the past which affected the practices of its security sector. Security institutions resisted and overcame those challenges; they continued to symbolize the strength of the state when instability prevailed. The official vision today in Morocco is that the country did not witness religious terrorism due to some objective reasons
such as its power structure and the existence of moderate religious movements.
The point of departure for security sector reform (SSR) was different in Morocco from other Arab countries. Morocco is not in the category of countries in a situation of instability/conflict or post conflict. The opening up of the sector happened gradually with a few decisive markers: 9/11 was one, the Equity and Reconciliation Commission (E&R) was another, and a general climate of openness was reflected on the security sector (SS). Both 9/11 and the Equity and Reconciliation Commission, but particularly the latter - the process itself and the recommendations it produced - played the most decisive role in launching a home-grown process of SSR.
In Morocco, the opaque shell that surrounds the security sector was cracked at the initiative of the ruler and the elite. Little could have been achieved if the leadership was unwilling. Civil society could not go very far in pressuring the state. If it weren’t for the opening of archives of the various security agencies, civil society had few means to move ahead.
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