Introduction to Security Sector Reform

Developed in collaboration with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), this course provides participants with an understanding and overview of SSR, its key principles, actors and contexts within which SSR takes place. 

Drawing on insights from experienced practitioners, the course provides participants with a solid introduction to international good practice, including both the political and technical aspects of SSR, and the importance of adopting a holistic approach. It underlines the main skills required to support SSR and provides the necessary foundations for subsequent courses conducted by DCAF/ISSAT and its partners. 

The online course is structured into four lessons:

  • Introduction to the concept of SSR;
  • Understanding the SSR context;
  • Key actors & coordination of SSR processes;
  • International support to SSR processes:

N.B. The course works best in Google Chrome. However, other updated versions of Firefox and Internet Explorer can be used as well.

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Course info

Target Audience

Individuals and groups interested in or working on SSR.


3 hours

Nota bene

The course works best in Google Chrome. However, other updated versions of Firefox and Internet Explorer can be used as well.


Navigation Instructions

Instructions for how to navigate the e-learning interface.

Lesson 1 - Introduction to the Concept of Security Sector Reform

Lesson 1 discusses the changing nature of our understanding of security and how best to meet the security needs of the people. It breaks down the term ‘Security Sector Reform’, to what is security, what is the security sector and what therefore is security sector reform. This lesson also helps you understand the key characteristics of SSR.

Lesson 2 - Understanding the SSR Context

Lesson 2 focuses on the various contexts within which SSR is carried out, with a special focus on post-conflict contexts. It outlines the political, economical and social factors that have an impact on the planning and implementation of SSR. The lesson also discusses gender, within the context of integrating the various stakeholders in the SSR process, and the need to recognize that different sections of society may experience security and insecurity in different ways.

Lesson 3 - Key Actors & Coordination of SSR Processes

Lesson 3 focuses on the key actors and institutions involved in SSR, both at the national level (implementing/ undergoing SSR) and the international level (supporting SSR). Given the large number of actors involved, their different institutional cultures and approaches, coordination is vital. This section will also deal with the issue of coordination and identify various obstacles to coordination.

Lesson 4 - International Support to SSR Processes

Lesson 4 focuses on international support to SSR processes. More often than not international support is through specific programmes or projects. As such this lesson will be based on the SSR programme cycle, and in particular on how the three essential dimensions of SSR require special attention throughout all stages of SSR programming.

Photo Credits

Acknowledgement of photos used in this course. 

Assessment and Course Evaluation

Take the assessment to obtain your certificate and provide us your feedback.