SSR Lessons from Ethiopia and South Sudan

An interview with General Tsadkan Gebretensae, who has overseen SSR programmes in his native Ethiopia and more recently has worked as an advisor in South Sudan.


State and non-state perceptions of Security

Dr Kwesi Sansculotte-Greenidge, Research Fellow in the Centre for International Cooperation and Security (CICS), Department of Peace Studies, discusses his research on Security Sector Reform in the context of Ethiopia and the divergence and convergence in perceptions of security across society.


Policy and Research Papers

No Ownership, No Commitment: A Guide to Local Ownership of Security Sector Reform

The principle of local ownership of SSR will have little import if it is treated simply as a romantic and woolly concept. In practical terms it means that the reform of security
policies, institutions and activities in a given country must be designed, managed and implemented by local actors rather than external actors.
The principle is misconstrued if it is understood to mean that there must be a high level of domestic support for donor activities. What is required is not local support for donor programmes and projects but rather donor support for programmes and projects initiated by local actors. The question for donor governments is not “how can we undertake SSR in partner countries?” but “how can we support local actors who want to undertake SSR in partner countries?”.
The principle does not preclude donors seeking to stimulate and encourage local interest in SSR. Nor does it preclude international actors putting pressure on governments whose security forces violate human rights. Nevertheless, the actual reform of the security sector must be shaped and driven by local actors.

To read the full publication, No Ownership, No Commitment: A Guide to Local Ownership of Security Sector Reform, please follow the link provided. 


Securing communities for development: Community policing in Ethiopia's Amhara National Regional State

With rising interest in community policing as a tool for improving access to justice and involving communities in security provisioning – Lisa Denney and Demalashe Kassaye of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) conducted an important study to better understand community policing in the Amhara National Regional State of Ethiopia. The study was conducted as part of a broader project called ‘Securing Communities’, which seeks to “map the diversity of community policing practices in a variety of country contexts to understand its various forms and what factors shape them.” It is the first of three planned case studies, the others of which include Timor L’este and Sri Lanka.

The study builds on previous work on the subject, including a background paper and a literature review . The background paper identified several political features responsible for shaping the development of community policing. Such factors include: histories of state formation; evolution of the political system; state-society relations; state presence; experience of conflict or emergency; social cleavages and inequality and; cultures of protection and dispute resolution.

Ethiopia was chosen as a case study based on its unique development as a result of several of the above-mentioned features. In the Ethiopian case, state-society relations, the structure of the political system, cultures of dispute resolution and political ideology were the driving forces that shaped this particular model (IV). For example, the pre-existence of customary dispute resolution mechanisms and a culture of “community mobilization” led to rapid implementation and a generally positive reception to community policing. On the other hand, the authoritarian tendencies of the state have led to some dangerous uses of the tool, primarily when it comes to the potential for increased surveillance capacities, due to monitoring and reporting functions. Furthermore, traditional methods of dispute-resolution have tended to exclude women and girls from decision-making and this has transferred to the current model of community policing.

Overall, the report found that – while relations between the police and communities have improved and there was a general sense of greater personal safety amongst those interviewed – several challenges remain. Among these is the need to train a broader range of actors involved in justice provision on community policing practices in general; and to address particular obstacles, like gender discrimination, through more sensitivity training. The successes of community policing have also been somewhat insulated from components of the formal justice system, particularly the courts, which are still seen as the most corrupt and inaccessible aspect of the Ethiopian judicial system. Finally, there is the need for a finer balance between police accountability and crime reduction and surveillance activities.

The report’s findings are significant and applicable from a policy-perspective in that it illuminated important considerations when implementing community policing in Ethiopia and other cases. The model had both positive and negative impacts, and as the report reiterates, it is the job of the international community to ‘do no harm’ by strengthening the positive aspects while mitigating the negative. Identifying and navigating these complexities can only be done through a careful examination of the broader political context.

To view this publication, please follow this link.


African Union Policy Framework on Security Sector Reform (SSR)

Africa is generally recognized as the theatre where the vast majority of SSR processes take place, particularly as part of post-conflict reconstruction. Yet, such SSR processes have been mostly informed by externally-generated policy frameworks and assumptions that often do not necessarily align with the realities and sources of insecurity of African peoples, states and societies.

In this policy framework, the African Union aims to reiterate its recognition of, and commitment to, existing normative frameworks on SSR, particularly those developed by the United Nations and other multilateral actors. The AU policy framework on SSR emanates from the recognition of the continuing gap between existing approaches to SSR and deficits in the delivery and governance of security in many AU Member States.


Ethiopia: Sliding Further Away from Democracy

This article analyzes the impact on democracy and governance of the protests and the state of emergency in Ethiopia declared by the government. The author argues that, although messy, and perhaps disruptive to Ethiopia’s economic progress, what is needed is genuine democratic dialogue to solve this crisis.

Read the full paper on Ethiopia: Sliding Further Away from Democracy


Addressing pastoralist conflict in Ethiopia

South Omo in Ethiopia, is a diverse zone in terms of people and natural resources. It comprises large populations of pastoralists and agro-pastoralists and a diverse landscape. The climate is erratic with frequent droughts and rivers that periodically flood and dry out completely. Economic opportunities are limited in an environment of poor infrastructure, no or few opportunities for trade and in some cases, poor terms of trade. As the livelihoods of pastoralists and agro-pastoralists depend on key resources such as land, water, forests, minerals, wildlife, livestock and pasture, the environment poses particular challenges to their survival. These resources are diminishing from year to year, intensifying competition over resources and causing violent conflict between the ethnic groups in the case study areas of the Kuraz and Hamer districts of South Omo. Communities involved in the study were able to identify many mechanisms for resolving conflict, including intermarriage, economic diversification, trade and good governance. The challenge is to identify these mechanisms and to involve a wide range of actors, including government officials at all levels (eg federal, regional, district), local communities and traditional leaders, international actors and donor agencies, in developing comprehensive strategies for conflict prevention and resolution. Recommendations for addressing these issues more effectively are provided at the end of the report. 

For full access to Addressing pastoralist conflict in Ethiopia, kindly follow the link. 


Transitioning Toward Gender Justice: A Trend Analysis of 13 African cases

Gender justice sees equal power relations, privilege, dignity, and freedom for people of different genders as a necessary component for any “just” society and a prerequisite for development. Gender justice includes gender equality, meaning substantive freedom for all genders to have genuine choices about their lives. Mirroring a global pattern in peace and security practice and policy-making, transitional justice (TJ) practice has tended to reduce gender justice concerns to violence against women (VAW). This policy brief advocates for policy-makers to adopt a broader and more meaningful understanding of gender justice, and to incorporate it into their TJ policymaking. To demonstrate the need for a broader understanding of gender justice within TJ processes, this policy brief draws upon a study conducted by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) on the drivers and impacts of TJ in Africa. The study examined gender trends emerging from 13 African countries that had State-led TJ processes between 1990 and 2011, and their impacts up until 2016. Based on the academic literature and available data for the 13 cases, four key factors were used as basic indicators of gender justice: women’s political rights and representation; women’s economic equity; women’s participation in civil society; and State measures against sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).

For full access to Transitioning Toward Gender Justice: A Trend Analysis of 13 African cases, kindly follow the link. 


The need for an African Union Special Envoy for Climate Change and Security

This essay reflects upon the climate-related security risks facing Africa and reviews the current policy responses. It contends that broad AU member state support for an AU Special Envoy for Climate Change and Security would be a viable strategy that strengthens the AU’s response to climate risks. The idea of the envoy—which stems from the AU’s Peace and Security Council meeting in May 2018—is an opportunity to pre-empt migration and forced displacement and moreover, ‘climate-proof’ the AU’s peace and security architecture.

For full access to The need for an African Union Special Envoy for Climate Change and Security, please follow the link provided.


Sudan after Bashir: regional opportunities and challenges

Omar al-Bashir’s removal from power will have long-term effects on Sudan’s political future. Even though domestic considerations forced Bashir’s downfall, his extensive involvement in regional issues means his departure will resonate beyond the confines of Sudan’s borders. This report explores the regional implications of Bashir’s removal and the subsequent role of external actors in Sudan’s internal affairs.

For full access to the report Sudan after Bashir: regional opportunities and challenges, kindly follow the link. 



Budgeting for the Military Sector in Africa

In this comprehensive study, 12 experts describe and analyse the military budgetary processes and degree of oversight and control in eight African countries-Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and South Africa-spanning the continent's sub-regions. Each country study addresses a wide range of questions, such as the roles of the finance and defence ministries, budget offices, audit departments and external actors in the military budgetary processes; the extent ofcompliance with standard public expenditure management procedures; and how well official military expenditure figures reflect the true economic resources devoted to military activities in these countries. The framework for the country studies is provided by a detailed model for good practice in budgeting for the military sector. The individual studies are tied together by a synthesis chapter, which provides a comparative analysis of the studies, classifies the eight countries according to theiradherence to the principles of public expenditure management and explains why individual countries find themselves with a certain classification. The book draws on the results of the country studies and their analysis by making concrete recommendations to the governments of African countries and the international community. While the military sector in many African states is believed to be favoured in terms of resource allocation and degree of political autonomy, it is not subject to the samerules and procedures as other sectors. Because of the unique role of the armed forces as the guarantor of national security, and their demand for a high degree of confidentiality in certain activities, the military sector receives a significant proportion of state resources and is not subject to public scrutiny. The book argues that while the military sector requires some confidentiality it should be subject to the same standard procedures and rules followed by other state sectors.

View the book here.


Security and Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Dealing with Fighters in the Aftermath of War

This book provides a critical analysis of the changing discourse and practice of post-conflict security-promoting interventions since the Cold War, such as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR), and security-sector reform (SSR)

Although the international aid and security sectors exhibit an expanding appetite for peace-support operations in the 21st Century, the effectiveness of such interventions are largely untested. This book aims to fill this evidentiary gap and issues a challenge to 'conventional' approaches to security promotion as currently conceived by military and peace-keeping forces, drawing on cutting-edge statistical and qualitative findings from war-torn areas including Afghanistan, Timor Leste, Sudan, Uganda, Colombia and Haiti. By focusing on specific cases where the United Nations and others have sought to contain the (presumed) sources of post-conflict violence and insecurity, it lays out a new research agenda for measuring success or failure


Other Documents

Africa Forum on SSR - Concept Note

This concept note describes the background to the 2014 Africa Forum on Security Sector Reform.

Other Document