UK support to the reconstruction of the Sierra Leonean state has been widely held up as an example of successful state-building with the development of basic capacity and trust in public institutions, particularly security. This article examines security sector reform (SSR) in Sierra Leone, how Sierra Leone affected SSR and what implications that has for international interventions. Despite being hailed as a success, the sustainability of a state-building effort driven by concepts of the liberal state, a polity form that never existed in Sierra Leone, is in question. Unrealistic expectations of progress driven by planning imperatives of development agencies remain a key issue and obstacle to sustainability.
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