Security Sector Reform & Governance: Actors & Activities
The willingness of the development community to engage and work with the new concept of security sector reform (SSR) has varied from agency to agency in the years since the term 'SSR' was first coined. The concept of SSR has evolved from a two-pillar, state-centric focus to one that encompasses a human security framework, moving beyond the reform of government institutions to include non-statutory actors.
This section examines the various national, inter-governmental organizations and donor countries that work on SSR activities. SSR is effectively an externally driven process. As security expert Heiner Hänggi explains, "The SSR agenda pursued by the development donors makes the concept problematic from the perspective of recipient countries. Other than in post-conflict countries, SSR programmes are still quite the exception in developing countries, which although in principle in need of SSR, are not haunted by the legacy of recent violent conflict and therefore not forced to rely on external involvement for the provision of public security."1
[Back to Top] Civil society organizations include non-governmental organizations, political parties, and interest groups. They fulfill an important role as a watchdog over the security sector, ensuring that the democratic system and good governance are actively implemented. Some research organizations have mobilized action around SSR-related activities, facilitated discussions between government officials, and helped to provide technical input for security sector reform.
[Back to Top] 2 This document recognizes that security and development are interdependent and that every effort needs to be made to ensure that this is reflected in the work of the Council and the Commission, which follows the norm-setting work of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) does not have an official SSR concept, although the 1994 Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security contains a number of key concepts and principles that relate to SSR. OSCE is engaged in a number of SSR-related activities, such as disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR), control of small arms and light weapons (SALW), border management, and rule of law.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organizations (NATO) SSR activities take place under the Partnership Action Plan on Defence Institution Building (PAP DIB). The work focuses on the post-Communist part of the Euro-Atlantic area. PAP DIB focuses on building capacity in the defense sector for personnel management and budgeting issues and on addressing the consequences of reform. NATO also recognizes that development and security are interlinked and hold defense ministries to high standards of transparency and accountability.
The African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are two inter-governmental organizations in Africa that have not developed a coherent SSR concept. They have, however, adopted mechanisms and instruments that aim to engage in democratic governance of the security sector. The ECOWAS Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security and its Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance are two instruments that touch on the sub-regional SSR concept. The Common African Defence and Security Policy of the AU provides the overarching framework for a continental African SSR doctrine that would be premised on the United Nations SSR concept. In addition, some African countries do not agree with the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) guidelines on SSR, preferring more locally owned projects.
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The British government, which initially took the lead in this sector, has found a number of followers in the Nordic countries, as well as in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, and the United States.4 It created two conflict prevention funding pools, one for Africa and one for the rest of the world.
[Back to Top] 5 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has advocated for "a coherent and consistent United Nations approach to security sector reform is the articulation of core guiding principles based on lessons learned, international law and standards and existing United Nations policies on the broad rule of law. Those principles should establish the purpose and objectives of the Organization with regard to security sector reform and direct its engagement in specific contexts. Ideally, security sector reform should begin at the outset of a peace process and should be incorporated into early recovery and development strategies."6
Nevertheless, SSR cuts across a wide range of UN policy areas, from peace and security to development, human rights, and the rule of law. An increasing number of UN departments and agencies are involved in SSR. The UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations (UNDPKO) and the UN Development Programme are two key actors involved in operational SSR activities. There is an SSR unit within the rule of law office in UNDPKO. The UN Department of Political Affairs focuses on security sector reform in peacemaking processes and in the context of offices or missions led by the Department of Political Affairs. The UN Security Council has repeatedly referred to SSR but rarely defined it. The UN Development Fund for Women provides knowledge and expertise on the gender dimensions of security sector reform, and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights addresses the reform of human rights institutions and capacity building for security actors. In addition, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime supports ad hoc security sector reform addressing crime control.
In recent years, the number and scope of UN activities related to SSR have increased; however, they were not attributed to the SSR concept. The UN tends to favor justice and police reform, as well as SSR-related activities in post-conflict settings. Its missions in Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are among the first missions to insert SSR within their mandates.
There have been strong calls to create a roadmap for SSR activities carried out by integrated peacekeeping missions. Most recently, the Office of the Rule of Law and Security Institutions (OROLSI) was established in UNDPKO in 2007 to provide an integrated approach to UN assistance in rule of law and security entities. According to a UN secretary-general report, "OROLSI unifies police, judicial, legal, correctional units, and mine action, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, as well as new security sector reform functions, primarily in support of United Nations peacekeeping operations, as well as globally with regard to the police and corrections in the context of countries with no peacekeeping missions."7 SSR remains very much an ad hoc activity for UN missions.
UNDP developed its own programmatic approach to SSR, known as Justice and Security Sector Reform (JSSR). Activities that fall under this rubric include community policing, police reform, security reviews, parliamentary oversight of the security sector, and others. SSR activities are generally considered part of the broader governance strategy. In Kosovo, UNDP was involved in an Internal Security Sector Review (ISSR). This process involved issues such as transparency, legitimacy, and international buy-in. UNDP has been carrying out this program on the basis of voluntary contributions, which has had the effect of facilitating work with the bilateral donors involved. The program brought together Kosovo civil society, bodies involved in internal security, and a range of inter-governmental organizations. ISSR has been proceeding in eight stages and is expected to be a blueprint for succeeding security institutions in Kosovo. The UN Peacebuilding Commission and UNDPKO/UNDP have also implemented SSR stock-taking efforts.
The UN Office for West Africa hosted a regional workshop entitled "Security Sector Reform, Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding in West Africa" on November 22-23, 2004, to facilitate regional debate among key stakeholders on the reform of the security sector as a way to enhance peace and contribute to the prevention of conflict in West Africa. SSR is a priority in the sub-region, as the security forces in West Africa have appeared to be a source of insecurity rather than a factor of democratic stability. The workshop developed a shared understanding of SSR as a conflict prevention tool and established projects on non-military threats to the security sector in three sectors: health (HIV/AIDS in the armed forces), administration of justice, and combating cross-border criminal activities.8
[Back to Top] International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank would play a role in supporting SSR activities, especially in public financial management, both institutions have had limited engagement in security-related issues.9 The World Bank continues to support DDR programs in post-conflict environments, but it has not integrated these programs into the general rubric of SSR.
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1. Heiner Hänggi, "Conceptualizing Security Sector Reform and Reconstruction," in Reform and Reconstruction of the Security Sector, eds. Alan Bryden and Heiner Hänggi (Geneva: Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), 2004), 7.
2. For more information, see, Saferworld, Developing a Common Security Sector Reform Strategy (London: Saferworld, January 2006).
3. See, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Development Assistance Committee (OECD DAC), OECD DAC Handbook on Security System Reform: Supporting Security and Justice (Paris: OECD, 2007).
4. Michael Brzoska, Development Donors and the Concept of Security Sector Reform (Geneva: Geneva Centre for Democratic Control of Armed Forces, 2003).
5. Heiner Hänggi and Vincenza Scherrer, Towards a Common UN Approach to Security Sector Reform: Lessons Learned from Integrated Missions (Geneva: Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, 2007), 1-2.
6. "Report of the Secretary-General on Security Peace and Development: The Role of the United Nations in Supporting Security Sector Reform," UN Doc. A/62/659-S/2008/39 (January 23, 2008), 12-13.
7. United Nations Peacekeeping, Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions.
8. United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA), The UN Office for West Africa (Dakar: UNOWA), 2.
9. Nicole Ball, "World Bank/IMF: Financial and Programme Support for SSR," in Intergovernmental Organisations and Security Sector Reform, ed. David Law (Munster: Lit Verlag, 2007).
10. OECD DAC, Security System Reform and Governance, (Paris: OECD, 2005), 16.
11. Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, "The International Security Sector Advisory Team."