By Silvia Peirolo
Security assistance is at the forefront of international engagement in “weak” or “fragile” states. Making so-called fragile states secure and stable is viewed by the international community as essential for dealing with the consequences of the transnational and diffuse nature of insecurity such as trafficking of arms, drugs and human beings and to prevent their reoccurrence. As a result, the transfer of western norms to security actors in other countries has become a substantial part of a billion-dollar business and thousands of police and military officers are deployed to train, monitor and mentor other security actors in countries such as Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Capacity-building is presented as the core solution to solve security problems, especially in the African continent. My dissertation uses norm diffusion theories to understand how capacity-building unfolds in non-Western contexts. The project aims to spotlight the processes over the constitution of the meaning of norms in the security field and the complex processes and mechanisms of their translation and localisation. I use two international peacekeeping training centers as case studies: the Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units based in Vicenza (Italy) and the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center (KAIPTC) based in Accra (Ghana). The data collected in these two international peacekeeping training centers in Italy and Ghana serve as the basis for my PhD thesis and related publications.
After two short visits to Ghana in November 2021 and February 2022, I spent three months conducting research at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center in Accra. During my time at the KAIPTC, I was affiliated with the Faculty of Academic Affairs & Research (FAAR). This longer visit allowed me to understand the everyday life at the center and to conduct interviews with military officers. Having the opportunity to conduct interviews in person has been invaluable as interviews provided insights that I would not have been able to gain with online interviews. I also had the opportunity to conduct participant observation in various official events and ceremonies organized by the KAIPTC. Moreover, I have been able to access documents and statistics on KAIPTC training offers that were not available online. Spending three months at the KAIPTC allowed me to get a better understanding of how training in the security field is organised and how capacity-building is perceived by Ghanaian military officers.
The financial support I received from UACES has been essential for my three-month fieldwork at KAIPTC. With this support, I have been able to collect data for my PhD while improving my research skills in a completely new environment.