As Security Sector Reform (SSR) faces pressure to address new issues and threats, the moment is right to assess unresolved issues concerning both the concept and the practice of SSR. Four points stand out as essential to improving SSR initiatives.
First, SSR efforts require a more nuanced balance of support for state actors and their informal counterparts, to reflect more accurately the realities of security provision in different political contexts. Second, while continuing to strengthen security actors’ capacity, SSR’s original focus on governance and political analysis of the security sector needs to be more central to such efforts. Third, SSR programs must be longer in duration, more iterative in approach and less prescriptive in terms of expected outcomes. Lastly, as modern security threats come into sharper focus on the international community’s agenda, particularly threats posed by transnational organized crime and violent extremism, SSR must not fall into the trap of ‘solving security problems’ or becoming a quick-fix solution. Rather, it needs to be more carefully applied, in line with its original core tenets.