Security and justice are inseparable. A strict delineation of both of Justice and Security as distinct stand-alone sectors can have disembedding effects, thus disconnecting reform efforts from a broader rule of law framework which provides functionality, legitimacy, and checks and balances. A strong rule of law helps prevent and mitigate violent crime and conflict by providing legitimate processes for the resolution of grievances and disincentives for crime and violence. Without a genuine rule of law framework, security providers run the risk of being unresponsive to democratic oversight as well as the needs of the people they serve, especially marginalised groups and communities, since they cannot be held accountable for their own actions (corruption, abuse, misconduct) or those of others (through effective law enforcement and crime prevention).

The justice sector and how it interacts with the security sector is nonetheless a complicated and complex endeavour to understand. Rather than being a single, unified sector, it is in fact a series of related and mutually dependent systems composed of a number of different agencies and institutions, each of which has its own rationales, work cultures, and formal and informal principles.  As a result, each body responds to a distinctive set of incentives and develops at its own, separate pace, although one that needs to be integrated into and is reliant on the greater whole. Strengthening one link in the criminal justice and security (CJS) chain in isolation may create pressures and fractures elsewhere. With this understanding, comes the need to adopt a systemic approach embracing the complexity of working across multiple institutions and at multiple levels and aiming at identifying the gaps and linkages between different parts of the system and appropriate entry points rather than addressing all the problems within a justice sector or working across all institutions. Analysing the dependencies and the effects of one part of the system onto other areas of the system will allow for better risk mitigation measures and plans for implementing desired reforms.

In most of the world, the vast majority of people access security and justice through traditional, customary or other non-state means. Consideration for customary justice therefore is part of a holistic understanding of the security and justice needs of a country, just as a gendered analysis of those needs is equally important to arriving at a full understanding. 

Selected Resources

ISSAT Knowledge Products

Our methodology and guidance takes into account good practice gathered by ISSAT and other practitioners during security and justice programming. ISSAT Knowledge Products include explanations of key concepts, recommended activities, and a constantly growing collection of case studiestools, examples and lessons.

In most of the world, the vast majority of people access security and justice through traditional, customary or other non-state means. Consideration for customary justice therefore is part of a holistic understanding of the security and justice needs of a country.  

Selected ISSAT Justice and Rule of Law Mandates

ISSAT mandates in justice range from support in justice programming to evaluations of projects carried out by governing board members, trainings and facilitation of multilateral discussions on rule of law and justice reform.