Formulating Sierra Leone's Defence White Paper Process

This paper outlines the process of producing Sierra Leone’s 2002 defence white paper. Unique to this process was the document’s explicit aim of explaining to the general public both the progress and the shortcomings of security sector reform (SSR) in Sierra Leone’s defence system. The white paper was produced on the assumption that without making this information publicly available, opportunities to engage ordinary people in future reform initiatives would be limited. 

The paper also describes some of the challenges faced in the white paper’s production, including those from military counterparts in the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) and from international military and civilian advisers.

After a complex process of consultation and debate, the defence white paper is a strong statement of where Sierra Leone’s defence sector stands today and the direction it should take in the future. It is obvious that all this chapter’s recommendations will not necessarily be implemented in practice. It is also clear that while Sierra Leone has come a long way in building up a strong and democratically accountable defence system, there are still many challenges ahead.