Principles in Practice

Local ownership refers to a situation where the reform of the security policies, institutions and activities in a given country is designed, managed and implemented by local actors rather than external actors. Explore how to maximise the use of participatory approaches, how to invest in local and regional networks, and (upcoming) how ownership at a national level must exhibit involvement on multiple levels, not just elite political buy-in. 

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Engagement on political issues, more than on technical aspects and capacity building, is crucial for the success of Security Sector Reform (SSR). Through key lessons and a variety of examples, explore ways of addressing the challenges of translating strong political will into clear strategies, managing varying levels of political engagement, and redirecting or incentivising the interests of critical stakeholders when the focus of political will is away from SSR.

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National Security Strategies or Policies (NSS/NSP) outline the national security concerns of a country, as well as the security needs of the population in order to create a framework in which these matters can be addressed by security providers in the most effective manner. Increasingly nowadays, these structures have begun to expand and include other key aspects that enhance the country’s ability to implement its security strategies, while strengthening its ownership. Delve into the eight areas identified by ISSAT as resurfacing in recent NSS/NSPs, and the entry points through which these can be incorporated into NSS/NSPs. This principle in practice page also gives various examples showcasing each of these characteristics.

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Establishing whole-of-government approaches to supporting justice and security sector reform processes is increasingly recognized as a key element to the effectiveness and efficiency of support to SSR, rather than simply a good practice or even a time and resource consuming luxury. In an ISSAT report for the UK on ‘International Good Practices in SSR’, one of the key findings of that report is that policy by itself does not lead to better coordination. In fact it was found that policy has little influence over field level programming, and that it is national coordination structures that have a more significant role to play in this regard. 

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Customary justice is a set of norms, laws and processes that have found legitimacy in a local culture which may not be ratified by formal statutory order. In the developing world, non-state entities are the main providers of justice, a fact supported by large scale studies by OECD and UNDP. Given their significance, customary justice practices cannot be ignored by practitioners in the design and implementation phases of any security sector reform initiative. 

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