The role of security organisations in security sector reform (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1129)

Abstract

Query

What are the themes of current literature on Security System (or Sector) Reform? What are the major areas of contention and debate, and of significant consensus, particularly with relevance to the role of donor and host country state security organisations?

Key findings

There is consensus that donor approaches to SSR have failed to achieve the ambitious goals and objectives espoused in policy documents. Debates in recent literature centre on the reasons for this ‘policy-practice gap’ (Sedra, 2010; Bakrania, 2014b).

Key themes include:

  • There is agreement in the literature that donor assistance has generally taken an apolitical and technical approach (OECD-DAC, 2007b; Stabilisation Unit, 2014).
  • There is consensus that local ownership is a key political challenge for donors, but a lack of clarity on how donors can support true local ownership (Donais, 2009; Mobekk, 2011).
  • There is debate on how SSR should evolve to close the policy-practice gap. There are differences of opinion over the role of the state: is the state capable of providing security alone, or can hybrid arrangements involving non-state actors deliver more effectively (Sedra, 2010).

The literature questions whether holistic approaches to SSR are feasible.

Key themes include:

  • There is consensus the programmes are more effective when donors take a long-term gradual, pragmatic and problem solving approach to programming (SU, 2014).
  • The literature suggests that linkages should be established where possible, rather than addressing all sectors at once. Evidence suggests that tactical partnerships, rather than strategic partnerships, have more impact (SU, 2014).
  • Experience shows that international assistance is less effective where communication between donors is lacking, and where they have diverging views of the role and reform of different security actors (Born, 2009).

Citation

Bakrania, S. The role of security organisations in security sector reform (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1129). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2014) 14 pp.

The role of security organisations in security sector reform (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1129)

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