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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Balancing accountability and effectiveness is at the heart of SSR programming. Accountability often gets neglected as it takes time to establish and the results are harder to perceive and prove to donors. However, accountability mechanisms help to mitigate the risks inherent in building capacity for more effective security and justice organisations. Three lessons to improve the balance between accountability and effectiveness are illustrated in this section with examples, drawn from SSR principles applied successfully in different contexts.

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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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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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The success of an SSR program crucially depends on whether the principles of good governance are respected beyond the life cycle of reform projects and programmes. This means that solutions are carried forward and become internalised also after donor support has ended. Achieving sustainability requires reinforcing local ownership, working towards behavioural change, and linking SSR programmes to wider country strategies. Read here about these and further lessons on sustainability in SSR.

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