Supporting dialogue on SSR in Ghana


The first peaceful transfer of power in Ghana from one elected government to another occurred in January 2001 when opposition leader John Kufuor became President. Part of the remaining challenge of democratic consolidation was full civilian, democratic control and further professionalisation of the security sector.

Entry point

Through the good relationship developed by the UK defence attaché with senior figures in the Ghanaian Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Ghanaian armed forces, the UK Security Sector Development Advisory Team was invited by the Ghanaian MoD to advise them on how to develop a human resources management and development strategy for the civilian component of the MoD. It became clear that before such a strategy could be developed, there was a need for greater clarity on the roles and responsibilities of the civil wing in relation to its military counterparts. The process of helping Ghanaian partners think through what these roles and responsibilities might be provided an opportunity to draw upon the experiences of other African countries that had strengthened the governance and management structures of their own security systems. It also enabled broader participation among Ghanaian stakeholders in this debate, including the wider security system, parliamentarians,
academia and relevant civil society organisations.

Lessons learned

Build networks through dialogue — Through the participation of a wide range of stakeholders in a series of workshops, greater understanding of SSR issues was developed, and a network of those interested in supporting progressive change was established. It was through this network that a locally designed and led course on security sector governance and management was developed. Delivered by an alliance of local institutions, the annual course is managed by a steering team jointly chaired by the Office of the President and the Office of the Head of the Civil Service.

Empower and strengthen local organisations — The series of workshops was organised by a local NGO called the African Security Dialogue and Research. ASDR built upon its extensive contacts and local knowledge to ensure a tailored approach that was effective in guiding the agenda forward within a complex political environment. Its engagement in this programme has helped them build trust, credibility and relationships with a range of individuals and organisations across government and beyond. This is reflected in the fact that the Parliamentary Defence and Security Committee later asked ASDR to provide a series of seminars and training for parliamentarians.

Flexibility — The willingness to adapt to a changing environment and to take opportunities as they arose was crucial to the successes that were achieved through this initiative. Although the initial objective of supporting a signifi cant enhancement in the capacity of the civilian wing was not fully realised, real progress was made in areas that were not originally envisaged, such as catalysing a public dialogue on security issues that in turn help catalyse broader reforms.

Build on ongoing initiatives and link to wider processes — Directly linking the initiative to the ongoing cross-government civil service strengthening programme was important in placing change within the MoD in the wider context of public sector reform and in broadening participation in the process to include those from outside the security system.


The Security Sector Governance and Management Course which is delivered by ASDR, Ghana University and the Ghana Institute for Management and Public Administration is now well established and provides an important forum for building understanding and promoting discussion on a range of security and justice issues. Enjoying high-level support and profile, the course is helping Ghanaians to lay the foundations for greater governance of their security system, and therefore in consolidating Ghana’s democratic transition.

*From the OECD DAC Handbook on Security System Reform: Supporting Security and Justice 


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