Recommended book list on SSR

24/11/2011 @ 16:34
by Thammy Evans

There is a growing body of writing on SSR, much of which is available online as a pdf for free. However, what's out there among published books only available for purchase - particularly books which might hold their argument over a numbers of years, those perhaps with an historical perspective, which might tackle a growing dimension, or otherwise provide valuable insight into SSR?

If anyone has a top recommendation, please post the title (perhaps with a two or three line synopsis) to this forum.

Thank you.

19/12/2011 @ 15:47
by Willem Oosterveld

Dear Thammy,

Thanks for your question and apologies first of all for the belatedness of this reply. One of the issues with SSR is that the field is so wide that it is difficult to point at just a few publications that would give you a comprehensive overview. You also mention that you're not necessarily interested in publications that are available as pdfs, but those that are only available for purchase in shops and online. I will list a few of those below, but would also like to point out that the quality of the work done on SSR does not depend on whether it is freely available, also because much of what is written is published by NGOs and IGOs, which as a rule offer most of their publications for free.

Having said this, here are a few suggestions: Schnabel and Ehrhardt, Security sector reform and post-conflict peacebuilding (UNU Press, 2006); Peake, Sheye and Hills, Managing Insecurity: Field Experiences of Security Sector Reform (Routledge, 2007) and Jones, Wilson,Establishing law and order after conflict (Rand Corporation, 2005). At the same time, I would also like to draw your attention to other key publications (which are available for free) such as the OECD DAC Handbook on Security System Reform; Mark Sedra, The Future of Security Sector Reform (CIGI, 2010) and various publications by DCAF (, in particular its yearly books, occasional papers and SSR papers, which provide general introductions into various aspects of SSR.

Hope that all of these suggestions are useful!

21/12/2011 @ 11:08
by Thammy Evans

Dear Willem,

Thank you very much for these, some of which I have not looked at and so will take a closer look at them on your recommendation. My personal top ten eclectic list includes of course the Handbook on SSR as well as some other more lateral contributions. Here they are with an explanatory comment, and I've linked those that are available free as a pdf:

  • OECD-DAC Security Sector Reform and Governance OECD Publishing, 2005, 144 pages. This remains the principal backgrounder on SSR.
  • OECD-DAC Handbook on Security Sector Reform: Supporting Security and Justice OECD Publishing, 2007, 253 pages. This expands considerably on the 2005 OECD-DAC publication by looking at programming reform across the individual sectors of hard security.
  • Ball, Nicole and Fayem, Kayode, eds, Security Sector Governance in Africa: A Handbook Centre for International Policy, Washington, 2004, 164 pages. The primer for SSR on this most challenging of continents.
  • Beeson, Mark and Bellamy, Alex Securing Southeast Asia: The Politics of Security Sector Reform Routledge, 2007, 224 pages. A valuable insight into the positive prospects of SSR in this region.
  • Anderson, Mary B Do No Harm Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1999, 160 pages. This is the contributing treatise behind the second principle of the 2007 ‘Principles for Good International Engagement in Fragile State and Situations’ as mentioned in the 2008 ‘Accra Agenda for Action’. The ‘Principles’, the ‘Accra Agenda’, along with the 2005 ‘Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness’ are the cornerstones of effective aid and reform.
  • Meadows, Donella Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System The Sustainability Institute, 1999, 19 pages. Seminal work on reforming any system.
  • Smith, Rupert The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World Penguin, 2006, 448 pages. A former UK general, Smith lays out why force is becoming increasingly redundant in providing security, and so, without saying as much, why reform of the use of the military is a necessity.
  • Kinsey, Christopher Corporate Soldiers and International Security: The Rise of Private Military Companies Routledge, 2007, 208 pages. One of many books on this subject, this book looks at a wider variety of countries and companies than other books and also at the legal implications from an international relations perspective.
  • Potts, Malcolm Sex and War: How Biology Explains Warfare and Terrorism and Offers a Path to a Safer World Ben Bella Press, 2010, 464 pages. A fascinating (if long-winded) perspective on how gender might play a role in security.
  • Mortenson, Greg Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace Through Education in Afghanistan and Pakistan Penguin, 2010, 448 pages. This sequel to Three Cups of Tea, both of which are now mandatory reading for parts of the US officer corps, provides strong anecdotal evidence for progressing reform at the ‘soft’ end of security.

Hope you and others can find these useful.