Thematics in Practice
ISSAT keeps abreast of developments in related fields in order to continuously improve the SSR knowledge base from different angles. Delve into what we identify as the most relevant cross-cutting themes in the field, view compilations of resources that feed into current discussions and find out about our related advisory engagements and knowledge products. Share your insights and suggestions on cross-cutting themes with us via email
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.
Justice Reform is a necessary pillar of rule of law in a given political entity and in most cases it is a precondition for sustainable SSR. Discover the knowledge products exploring a variety of issues, from criminal justice system development, to customary justice and legal instruments for border cooperation. View a list of methodological tools, such as case studies and example lessons, as well as a selection of relevant ISSAT mandates in the field.
Defence reform is a challenge in any country. Four key objectives underlie defence reform: maintain appropriate, adequate, accountable and affordable defence forces. Making the defence sector a more inclusive and more representative sector is an additional objective of the defence reform.
The role of any police institution is law enforcement and protection of the community. In an SSR context, police reform aims to transform the values, culture, policies and practices of police organizations so that police can perform their duties with respect for democratic values, human rights and the rule of law. Community Policing is a widely used approach within police reform contexts to improve trust between police and citizens and create a collaborative approach to security, where there is good mutual understanding.
We have produced two Thematic in Practice pages on the topic:
Picture: Russell Watkins/DFID
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.
The media landscape has changed dramatically over the last two decades. There has been an unprecedented expansion of access to information. The modern news cycle allows for instant visibility of local events to a global audience and increased possibilities for citizen and civil society participation in the generation of news.
A Human Rights-based approach to SSR involves the application of Human Rights frameworks to the fundamental principles of security sector reform. Such an approach requires that local empowerment, national ownership, meaningful inclusion and accountability are central elements in programme implementation.
A fragile state is characterised by one or several of the following factors: a loss of physical control of the state in its territory, a weakened monopoly over the legitimate use of force, the inability to make collective decisions and provide basic public services, including mainly security and justice services. Security Sector Reform is a necessary transformative process that tackles shortcomings in the access to relevant and accountable security and justice services.
The prevention of violent conflict has traditionally been one of the core aims of SSR. SSR is seen as a means of progressively building resilient security and justice systems while addressing many of the root causes and drivers of conflict that stem from ineffective, poorly managed or unaccountable security and justice institutions.
Reintegration is the process through which former combatants become established in their communities and gain sustainable employment and income. It is a social and economic process with an open timeframe, primarily taking place at the community level. It is part of the general development of a country and a national responsibility that often requires long-term external assistance.
Causes and responses to Migration are deeply anchored in SSR. However, migration is recently being confused with forced displacement. This web page focuses on the distinction between these terms which are closely related. View the international norms and policy framework on migrants and refugees, knowledge products, recent resources and challenges for the international community.
Ongoing armed conflicts and armed violence cause worldwide displacement of people, leading many to seek protection in neighbouring countries as well as further away. As the recent refugee crises demonstrate, the effects of forced displacement on the security and justice responses of host countries is tremendous and provide many entry points for Security Sector Reform to improve the situation of the forcibly displaced.
The physical and mental health of individuals fall within the scope of SSR in post conflict environments as they are linked to societal processes of transitional justice, dealing with the past and memory. View or page with resources, knowledge products and tools which address these concepts and offer practical advice.
The Covid-19 pandemic is a public health crisis which is changing the world as we know it today. Public health practitioners are at the forefront of response measures, but security and justice actors are in the middle of managing a crisis that has the potential to challenge socio-cultural dynamics, slow down the economy, reassess international relations and redefine political values and the role of the State and civil society.
States of Emergencies (SoEs) are constitutional (or equivalent) mechanisms invoked by governments during large scale crises that undermine social and political order. SoEs give governments extraordinary powers to address existential threats to public order, including war, political or civil unrest, criminal or terrorist violence, economic emergencies, diseases and natural disasters. SoE measures have been a critical part of the global response to COVID-19, allowing for the suspension of normal constitutional procedures for the government to regain control over the emergency.
The spread of the Covid-19 disease has forced many countries to adopt extraordinary legal measures aimed at addressing the pandemic and preventing its further spread. These measures vary from country to country but almost all of them have introduced strict limitations on the exercise of fundamental rights and sometimes have granted exceptional powers to security forces. Overall, most of the measures have been largely supported by populations around the world but there is rising concern around their scope, legality, necessity and proportionality, as well as their impact on human rights and livelihoods.
Livelihood is the basis of a sustainable society and for human security. Access to food, water, shelter and employment are all part of a sustainable livelihood, while food insecurity, conflicts, droughts and climate change are all factors that risks instability. The security sector, in most contexts has a clear mandate to safeguard people’s safety and security, including acting as a deterrent agent when it comes to security threats. Development and humanitarian-focussed programming typically tends to overlook the security sector, due to multiple factors related to each context.
We have produced two Thematic in Practice Pages on the subject:
The expanding use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Digital technologies in SSG/R bears significant importance to improve effectiveness and forecasts and the simulation of complex scenarios to support decision-making. But, these technologies also risk reducing public trust due to lack of awareness, access, violation of privacy or lack of fairness in using AI for public purposes.
The impact of climate change and environmental degradation as a risk multiplier for conflict and fragility is well documented, creating a vicious cycle. On the one hand, natural disasters and climate-induced resource scarcity in terms of water, arable land, protective ecosystem services and food increase the likelihood of community tensions, violent conflict and displacement. On the other hand, the relationship between conflict and the environment is bidirectional. Hence, violent conflict, migration and environmental crime enabled by fragility further aggravate climate change and environmental degradation.
There is emerging agreement on the significant role the security sector has to play in climate change adaptation (CCA), disaster risk reduction (DRR) and addressing environmental risks.
We have produced two Thematic in Practice Pages on the subject:
Climate and Environmental Security