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Security Sector Reform. Moving the Agenda Forward

Global Facilitation Network for Security Sector Reform  (2003)
83 pages

Security is central to effective and durable development. The UK strategy on Security Sector Reform (SSR) has a global remit. Joined-up SSR focuses on capacity building, ownership and burden sharing within the context of poverty reduction. This report, produced by the Global Facilitation Network for Security Sector Reform, is the result of a two-day forum event held in March 2003 whose main objective was to build local and international support for reform.

The SSR debate requires refuelling. Good intentions have been tarnished by coups, disorder, instability and corruption. A paradigm shift is needed to move away from donor-funded separate interventions toward comprehensive and strategic solutions.

Conflict and post-conflict societies illustrate the problems of establishing SSR principles in the wider development context. Regional fora allowed local actors to focus closely on the particular issues facing their areas, such as reinforcing sub-regional organisations to ensure continuity in their efforts. Regional findings and proposals note that:

  • Sierra Leone has experienced problems over SSR due to the binary nature of its' legal system based both on traditional law and English colonial law. Police and judicial reforms should be undertaken simultaneously there.
  • In East Timor, the creation of the Timorese Defence Force began without consultation from stakeholders or within a finalised security budget. Consequently rival factions arose and spending was unregulated.
  • Organised crime in Serbia is pervasive as a result of the Milosevic regime. Problems arose from the unclear jurisdictional lines of authority between federal and republic ministries.
  • In Asia, a bilateral approach to SSR would better suit the unique nature of the region.
  • Matching resources with strategic objectives was the common aim with a view to producing a series of “next steps” for each region.
  • Latin American SSR priorities should include opposing trans-national organised crime groups and reducing crime at the community level. Internal security involves tackling armed rebels or opposition.

The international forum moved the agenda forward intellectually. Relationships were forged, experiences shared and consensus reached on how a global approach to SSR strategies should be taken forward. Recommendations include:

  • Reforms must be internally driven at the national level. The role of the international community should be to provide technical expertise.
  • A best practice manual and central information repository would be a valuable addition to existing SSR literature. Appropriate channels should be created to disseminate “security literacy”.
  • World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) assistance should embrace defence and security expenditures and be subject to the same oversight mechanisms as other ministries.
  • Effort should be made to mobilise local human resources and expertise to strengthen a host country’s sense of ownership of the reform process.
  • In vibrant economies, the private sector should be encouraged to contribute to SSR discussions. International support should focus on investment in equipment and infrastructure, not just studies and training.

Source: Global Facilitation Network for Security Sector Reform (GFN-SSR), 2003, ‘Security Sector Reform. Moving the Agenda Forward’, GFN-SSR Paper No. 14, GFN-SSR, Shrivenham.

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