What makes a good National Security Threat Assessment?

18/07/2018 @ 14:43
by Olivia Webster

Dear all,

Some of you whose work brings you into contact with Nation Threat Assessments may be able to enlighten me: 

What good examples are there of national security threat assessments that incorporate an SSR approach or have been conducted as part of recent holistic SSR programmes? And what do you feel are the most important elements that should go into a good national security threat assessment?

I would be grateful for any suggestions, comments, resources, links, etc.

Thanks in advance!

18/07/2018 @ 17:21
by Valentin Wagee

Dear Olivia, 

I have been working recently on Nigeria and it might be interesting for you to take a look at the second Strategic Conflict Assessment from 2016 (SCA). This is the fourth edition since 2002 and provides accurate and updated data on the violent conflicts in Nigeria, analyses, as well conflict prevention and management strategies for government, institutions and communities at various levels.

The SCA was particularly aimed at empirically aggregating an overview of the conflict contexts and the associated trends of violent conflicts, analysing the key stakeholders, and mapping-out conflict-related government responses. To address the multifaceted challenges faced in different corners of the Nigerian state, it provided a series of recommendations – notably the importance of identifying the gaps in conception, implementation/deployment, duration/span, financing/budget line and other variables. It was followed by a National Action Plan, as the commitment to "link policy to action" was taken in the foreword. 

Overall, the methodology for providing recommendations, which then led to an Action Plan, is worth taking a look at, as local and international practices have informed the classification of responses into three main categories (government, NGO's and civil society, and international responses).

Best regards, 


26/07/2018 @ 19:27
by Thammy Evans

Hi Olivia,

What is important about threat assessments today is that they need to be much more human security focused, and much less state-centric focussed. As Churchill said:

"The wars of peoples will be much more terrible than the wars of kings."

In the past, threat assessments have centred on external threats of state agression, when in fact the grievances of disenfranchised sections of the population, either internally or externally are increasingly the issues of greatest concern. Yet little is done to address these issues with local options and locally sourced solutions of what works among a given community. This is why publications like the UK's Global Strategic Trends are inadequate, for they do not look at (encouraging) local future solutions and resilience trends in the way that ZIF's Peace Operations 2025. People want freedom from fear and freedom from want. Social media quickly links us to the fact that the grass is for many greener on the other side of the fence.

So, in the same way that it is applied to National Security Strategies, there are certain principles and good practice that can be applied to conducting threat assessments, such as human security, human rights, and gender.

Latvia has taken a very innovative approach to looking and responding to its perceived threat environment, by securing the needs of the individual first, then looking at family, the needs of the community, and then ever growing circles of regional, national and international issues.

I think there is a lot we can learn from this approach.

19/08/2018 @ 04:30
by Jim Rolfe


I've come a bit late to this I'm sorry. These examples are from a developed country and are not self-consciously within an SSR framework, but there could be some thoughts or approaches that help:

https://www.dpmc.govt.nz/sites/default/files/2017-03/national-security-system.pdf. This is superseded by the following, but there is still good material especially at page 21, picking up on Thammy's point about personal security

https://www.dpmc.govt.nz/sites/default/files/2017-03/dpmc-nss-handbook-aug-2016.pdf. See page 9 especially.

The point to take from both documents is that security is a whole of government and whole of society endeavour.

Hope there's something for you in this.