Starting and finishing a SSR program in a conflict/post conflict society

04/02/2015 @ 09:49
by Dimitar Kirkovski

Deal all,

I am doing a research in the SSR area for a paper titled "When to start and to finish with a SSR in a conflict/post conflict society". I could use someone's individual expert opinion or practical knowledge in that area. I would apriciate if someone contacts me or point out where can I find it.
Thanks and looking forward hearing from you!


04/02/2015 @ 10:57
by Dorgham Abusalim

Thank you for your post. 

I believe this document can provide some insight in the question you posted. As you rightly note, determining when to start or end an SSR is indeed context driven. The document underpins possible entry and exit points in such contexts.

Additionally, I attached a more detailed chart that can highlight those entry and exit points. 

We also received an e-mail from your colleague, Rade Rajkovcevski. We have forwarded your requests to the ISSAT staff. We'll be in touch with more information. 

SSR Conflict and Post Conflict.pdf (136 kB)
05/02/2015 @ 12:07
by Oanh-Mai Chung

Dear Mr. Kirkovski,

Here’s an additional piece of information that might be useful for your piece.

This blog post, by Gordon Hughes, discusses SSR and Stabilisation in three parts. Here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
In my own opinion however, SSR is not something which ends, but rather continues to be built upon even once stabilisation is reached. I hope this response proves helpful, have a nice day. 

05/02/2015 @ 18:54
by Thammy Evans

Почитувани г. Кирковски,

The principles of SSR, as laid out originally by the OECD-DAC process a decade ago, are about an approach to SSR. SSR, therefore should not be confused with an activity (like DDR) which has a start and an end. On the contrary, SSR (or security sector development/transition/governance) is a continuous process. With a new Strategic Defence and Security Review due out in the UK this year, the UK will likely again to be revising and reforming its security sector, and the draw down of troops across Europe and the US is a sign of this globally.

In cases where reform has been absent, there is a growing body of work now that illustrates that the foundation for SSR can be laid as early as the hot stabilisation phase and as soon as the move into a post conflict setting. In an allusion to the 'three block war' concept, it is perfectly feasible for SSR to be taking place in part of a country in conflict, whilst war-fighting goes on in another part. Whilst this is far from ideal, any attempt at security force assistance should include ensuring accountability as well improving effectiveness, only then can it be considered a contribution to SSR. If not, the second and third order effects of failing to include improvements in accountability, command and control, values and standards can be counterproductive. There is plenty written on this, and I refer you to this Forum post on the pitfalls of defence reform for such examples.

The UK Stabilisation Group paper published last year on Security Sector Stabilisation, states that 

Security Sector Stabilisation seeks to enable essential and minimum security and justice and in doing so protect and promote a legitimate political authority and prepare the foundations for transition to longer-term security sector reform.

There are also very new discussions arising on SSR as a preventative measure to mass atrocity crimes (GAAMAC Final Chair Statement, p6, recommendation 4), and the events which lead to invoking the principle of the responsibility to protect (R2P).

In other words, SSR does not have a specific start or end. It is holistic, ongoing and it is as wide as it is deep.



06/02/2015 @ 11:26
by Gordon Hughes

When to start and when to finish an SSR programme in a conflict/post conflict society?  That is the question....a question that can not be properly addressed until you define what you consider to be the conceptual boundaries of SSR.  Do we really mean "reform"? Are we only concerned with "security institutions"?  There is conceptual confusion across the international community, multilateral organisations (such as the UN, EU and OECD) and indeed the SSR community of experts about where SSR fits into conflict prevention, stabilisation, peacemaking, wider peacebuilding and long term development.  Some think that SSR applies to all countries, including those undertaking annual MoD driven routine defence reviews; others believe (as I do) that SSR is primarily a conflict prevention and post conflict endeavour - relating to both security and justice - which must be tightly coordinated with longer term development initiatives.

I also believe that we have become locked into inaccurate and misleading terminology.  The term SSR is outdated.  Our thinking on transforming security and justice sectors and systems has moved forward; but we have not yet modernised our terminology. We should be talking about Security and Justice Sector Development (or Transformation) as part of a broader post conflict reconstraction and development strategy.  The idea of "Reform" is simply misleading. The glaring omission of "Justice" from the headline title sends the wrong signals to potential beneficiaries. This misrepresentation of a powerful holistic security and justice development concept and tool  alienates many countries around the World because of its negative connotations and potential linkages to undermining sovereign rights and regime change. I appreciate the challenges facing highly bureaucratic organisations such as the UN and the EU in changing their language - SSR.  This inaccurate language has been embedded in high level papers for over 2 decades.   But we should try and modernise the concept and get it right for the next generation of policymakers and practitioners and say what we mean - Security and Justice Sector Development/Transformation (SJSD/T).

SJSD/T should begin (with external actor assistance) before the fighting starts as a conflict prevention measure.  It is an essential consideration during ceasefire planning and the formulation of peace agreements.  Arguably, national SJSD/T programs could finish when the security and justice institutions in a country are effective and accountable, and operating under democratic civil control without the need for any further international cooperating partner (ICP) assistance.  I am deliberately linking the finish of SJSD/T programmes to ICP assistance because - in my view - when a country can stand on its own two feet, it has moved beyond SJSD/T interventions into a more routine annual security/justice review process.

I accept that many of my "SSR" colleagues might not feel comfortable with this outside boundary.  However, if they accept my analysis, then the real discussion centres on "How much is Enough"?  Enough ICP assistance; enough in terms of effectiveness and accountability; and enough in terms of democratic civil control.  

I hope this shines some more light on this important set of SJSD/T issues.

Best Regards,


23/05/2016 @ 11:01
by Dimitar Kirkovski

Dear contributors and all,

After more then a year, the English version of the paper is (finally) out.

Thank you very much for your inputs. Due to the limitations, I am attaching the shorter version with a part on Macedonia's SSR story.

Basically, the text is about the process of SSR as it is, a long and uncertain project.  The sooner it starts with a good (enough) strategy, the better. And sometimes its is a never-ending story. The shadows of failure are present from the start and are there even years after the end of SSR.

I hope that the text provokes some more discussion here or elsewhere.

Kirkovski & Rajkovcevski - FSS conference 2015 vol.4.pdf (2 MB)