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?
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
The literature questions whether holistic approaches to SSR are
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,
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.