The International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT)

The International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT) provides practical support to the international community in its efforts to improve security and justice, primarily in conflict-affected and fragile states. It does this by working with a group of member states and institutions to develop and promote good security and justice reform practices and principles, and by helping its members to build their capacity to support national and regional security and justice reform processes.

Telephone: +41 (0)22 730 9400
Chemin Eugène Rigot 2E CH-1202
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CH-1202 Geneva
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Police Master Class 2014

Australia, Canada, Netherlands, Norway , UK mandate in Australia, Canada, Netherlands, Norway , UK 29/09/2014 - 10/10/2014

In 2010, at the request of the Netherlands, ISSAT was asked to support a group of four police academies to develop a two week training course, targeting mainly (senior) law enforcement officials. The aim of the course is to train these officers on the issues around police reform within an SSR and post-conflict context, and to prepare them to act as police reform advisors within multilateral mission or bilateral support programmes.

The programme is a joint endeavour chaired by the Netherlands in conjunction with Norway,Canada and the UK. ISSAT was mandated to provide advisory support as well as its current SSR training materials, and to present a module on looking at police reform through an SSR lens. The first course was piloted in September 2011, and a second course took place in 2012, both at Bramshill in the UK. The Third course was hosted in 2013 by the Swiss at Stans, and this year’s Master Class will be hosted by the Norwegians in Stavern, Norway.

No vacancies have been added yet.

Operational Guidance Notes

ISSAT Assessment OGN: Processing a Security & Justice Assessment Proposal

This is the first OGN in the assessment series. It covers issues to be taken into account when first receiving a request to assist with a security and justice assessment. It provides an overview of the main steps that you should consider in order to ensure that you have as clear a picture as possible of what is required in order to start planning, as well as gathering initial information. It assumes that the request has come from a donor, but that the national partners will be brought into the process as soon as possible, in line with commitments under the Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda for Action.

Operational Guidance Note

ISSAT Assessment OGN: Planning a Security & Justice Assessment

This is the second OGN in the assessment series. It covers issues to be taken into account when planning a security and justice assessment once a decision has been made to initiate it. It provides an overview of the planning process and the main operational steps. Because you need to know how you are going to conduct your assessment in order to be able to plan for it, this OGN needs to be read in conjunction with the third OGN in this series: Conducting an Assessment.

Operational Guidance Note

ISSAT Assessment OGN: Conducting a Security and Justice Assessment

This is the third OGN in the assessment series. It covers issues to be taken into account when conducting an assessment. The approach should not be prescribed, but developed in line with the specific context and purpose of each assessment. This OGN does not set out a series of detailed steps or lists of questions to ask, but instead provides direction on good practice approaches and ideas on how to undertake different aspects of the assessment. You should use this as guidance when determining the specific methodology for your assessment.

Operational Guidance Note

ISSAT Assessment OGN: Following on from a Security and Justice Assessment

This is the fourth OGN in the assessment series. It covers the process of finalising and integrating the recommendations of the assessment and serves to a) provide the link between the assessment and subsequent justice and security donor support activities, and b) ensure that the lessons learned during the assessment process can be used constructively in the future. If the assessment is to determine a support programme, then this OGN should be read in conjunction with the ISSAT OGN series on Programme Design.

Operational Guidance Note

ISSAT OGN - Security and Justice Sector Reform Training Needs Analysis

A security and justice reform (SSR) process will at times lead to a discussion on the need to change the roles and responsibilities of different actors and institutions involved in the provision, management or oversight of security and justice services. Such changes may result in ‘training gaps’ or new training needs or demand for new training programmes. In this context, a undertaking a Training Needs Analysis (TNA) will contribute to the SSR planning process, help identify training needs and support a structured reform of the security and justice sector.

This note provides guidance on the procedure for conducting an analysis of security and justice training needs. While it does not focus on any particular security or justice actor, or oversight actors, this note highlights the political risks and technical difficulties involved in a TNA in a SSR setting.

Operational Guidance Note

ISSAT Programme Implementation OGN: The Security and Justice Sector Reform Advisor

Advisors have become an integral and important part of the diplomatic, development and security landscape that is put in place by bilateral and multilateral donors in developing and conflict-affected countries. There are many different types of advisors. These include:
political advisors; development advisors specialising in many disciplines from governance through education and health to conflict prevention; security and justice advisors, encompassing national security, defence, security sector transformation and justice sector reform. Some focus in highly technical fields such as human resources or direct budget support. Others, depending on their responsibilities and levels of advice, are designated “strategic”, “senior” or “special” advisors. Although the organisational and security-development contexts within which advisors work may vary, there are a number of common and unique qualities, attributes and characteristics that set them apart from their counterparts working in political, diplomatic, development or security staff appointments. Like any professional a good advisor also needs good advice and guidance.

Operational Guidance Note

ISSAT Programme Implementation OGN: Defence Transformation

By Defence Transformation (DT), we mean major and long lasting changes to the structure, functioning and ethos of the defence sector of a country. DT is therefore more extensive than simple incremental improvement to a country’s defence sector, such as happens all over the world. It also typically occurs after a major political conflict or crisis, usually involving violence, and often on a large scale. DT is thus more ambitious than the reorganisation of defence sectors following peaceful transitions, such as those in Eastern Europe after 1989. DT should be viewed as a component of a whole security and justice transformation process.

Operational Guidance Note


We are in the process of transitioning our guidance notes from discrete PDF documents to an integrated online methodology. This will allow us to constantly refine and improve our guidance based on practical experience, and include with the guidance a set of tools, case studies and examples that will make the guidance easier to understand and apply. You will still be able to download a PDF version of most content so you can use it as a reference when you're offline, but the online resource will be the most up to date and complete.

Evaluation is one of the first areas of guidance we have developed using this new approach. The content and interface are still very much under development, but you can have a sneak preview by following this link:


As always we are eager for your feedback. It is only with your help that we can make this a truly invaluable resource for you.

Operational Guidance Note

ISSAT Assessment OGN: Overview for Security and Justice Assessments

This note provides an overview for the series of Operational Guidance Notes (OGNs) on Security and Justice Assessments produced by the International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT). It is designed to be read as an introduction to the OGNs and includes the overarching principles that should be adhered to throughout the assessment process.

Operational Guidance Note

Case Studies

Capacity and accountability in the military: some examples from the SSD-program, Burundi


In April 2009 the Dutch and the Burundian government signed a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) concerning the professionalization of the police and army following SSR principles (later called: the Security Sector Development program: SSD). Although the situation in Burundi since 2015 has deteriorated significantly, this does not mean that all programs and projects executed in Burundi in the previous years have failed. This is certainly not the case of the SSD-program. There are good examples in the program of how the participating Dutch military tried to balance the reinforcement of capacity and the reinforcement of accountability and integrity.

Entry points

The SSD-program is divided into four phases of two years. From the beginning on it was decided that the first phase would be “SSR-light”. This phase was used to gain a certain status as partner country so that the program could introduce gradually the more sensitive issues and become more focused on strategic planning instead of solving the day to day, often post-conflict, challenges.

The program has three pillars: Governance, Police, and Army. The Army pillar consisted of Burundian military project-managers and was reinforced by a Dutch army officer, who acted as team leader during the 1st phase and became coach of the team in the 2nd phase.

Although the first phase was more train and equip oriented than the second phase, the first phase implicitly tried to combine capacity and accountability. Accountability is part of military daily life. It is so common that we do not see it. For example one of the projects was the delivery of cooking kettles for the kitchens, which had been constructed by UNDP but there was no budget for equipping them. The project delivered the necessary cooking kettles and introduced a system of maintaining them and how to control regularly the maintenance of the kettles and the presence of the linked kitchen equipment.

The SSD-program delivered also medium-sized trucks. The truck project foresaw the delivery of spare-parts. Spare-parts have a certain financial values, certainly the more exchangeable ones like tires, mirrors, batteries and filters. The program introduced a system of how to manage spare-parts and how to control the use of spare-parts. Through this project, the larger SSD program was able to propose a more profound project concerning the organization and management of the maintenance and repair unit of the Burundian army. This project was monitored and assisted by two additional Dutch military and reinforced the oversight and control of the maintenance and repair organization. Unfortunately the turn in political circumstances in Spring 2015 prevented the continuation of the project but the plan was that this project should become the pilot project of the entire logistical organization of the Burundian army.

Before the MoU was signed one of the PBF-projects was the project “Moralisation”. Despite the awkward name, its contents was extremely important: it concerned the revival of the lost norms and values of the Burundian army. The SSD-program continued this project and recalled it: “Military Ethics”. The project started by training 12 Burundian officers for two months. The training was executed by two additional Dutch army officers (one legal and one psychologist). They trained Burundian officers so that they could become the trainers of the Burundian army. There was an exam at the end, which only one officer failed and he was not to become a Military Ethics trainer.


After the training, the program facilitated Military Ethics training throughout the whole Burundian army resulting in some 2500 officers trained. In the meantime the trainers wrote the Manual on Military Ethics including some 25 cases which could be used in training. The manual was accepted and became a formal manual of the Burundian army. The program was asked to deliver a two-day training to all Burundian military going on mission to Somalia and Central African Republic. For years the Burundian army received positive remarks from the Somalian civil society on their behavior. The project continued in the 2nd phase leading to the first “Open doors of the Army” in Burundian history. For people in Europe this is something which happens on a yearly base but people who know Burundi or who are used to work in fragile states understand the value of this enormous breakthrough.  

The situation in Burundi as of Summer 2015 is very tense and there is an increasing number of casualties. In the media, the police is often blamed for using disproportional force or lethal force without sufficient reason. In the same media, the army has been mentioned as being more professional and moderate in their behavior. This illustrates a continued positive outcome of the efforts done within the “Military Ethics” project.

Lessons Identified

The progress made does not mean that every member of the Burundian army always performed well. There was a criminal case in Somalia in which Burundian military are said to be involved in Cibitoke-province in 2014. However, things would have been worse if the DSS-program had not conducted the “Military Ethics” project.

Comparisons judging the performance of an army of a post-conflict state only against internationally accepted norms and values are often made too soon. Consideration should be given to where this army comes from and what the context is. This is not the same as accepting the abuse of force. On the contrary, evidence of improvement in the functioning of command and control, including internal investigations and disciplinary action, are evidence of progress in governance and denouncing impunity.

The military can significantly contribute to the reinforcement of accountability and integrity, which will lead to more professional behavior of armed forces in other countries. Reinforcing accountability sounds more complex than it is: it starts at the operational level and is not always that difficult to introduce as it concerns the daily life of every member of the armed forces.

Selected Resources

Case Study

Creating a National Dialogue to Prevent Future Conflict in Guinea-Bissau


Since the civil war of 1998-1999, Guinea-Bissau has experienced reoccurring cycles of violent conflict. The continued struggle for power between the military and political elite has been deeply divisive and has further polarised different agendas and interests, proving the necessity for a restructuring of the security sector with an innovative approach to peacebuilding.

At the request of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS, now renamed UNIOGBIS), Interpeace partnered with local organisation Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (INEP) in 2005 to investigate the situation in the country and evaluate the potential for creating a local initiative targeted to promote and collaborate for sustainable peace. As a result of this research, the programme Voz di Paz was created in 2007 with a mandate to assist in creating and broadening a dialogue about the key obstacles hindering peace in the country and supporting local, national and regional actors to participate in the prevention of future conflict. In 2010 it became its own independent local organisation.

Entry point

In light of the context, it was recognized by the community that ongoing projects and efforts at resolving the issues at hand were not effective. Two main reasons for this were identified: the root causes were not being tackled and a big divide between levels of society existed, which was not conducive to creating trust between them.

Therefore, the Voz di Paz initiative consulted the population and all concerned actors and found four basic principles that were key to break the cycles of failed projects targeting a reform of the security and defence sector:

  1. Provide access to information about SSR;
  2. improve the dialogue between the Security forces and the population;
  3. promote the wide-spread participation of the Security forces in shaping the final structure of the reform;
  4. provide feedback to the institutional actors of the reform.

This vision of inclusiveness and participation was used in both the ‘peace-mapping phase’ and the ‘formulation of peace visions and solution phase.’ By setting up Regional Spaces of Dialogue (RSD), where leaders in the communities acted as facilitators and created a space that encouraged debate about various issues, the program created a culture of dialogue to build bridges between all stakeholders, such as citizens, structured constituencies, organisations, and the military. These relieved many tensions throughout the country as the population began to work together to solve their issues. Together, the communities came up with four of the most important issues that needed to be addressed: ineffective state institutions and bad governance, poverty, poor administration of justice, and tribalism.

Lessons identified

Participatory Action Research – has proven to be effective in building mutual understanding and trust between various groups in society and the security sector and it allows all stakeholders to get a stronger grasp of the different needs of the population. It also empowers citizens since it makes them feel included and significant because it gives them agency in determining their own destiny, as well as a deeper understanding of the necessary actions and actors relevant for change. This adds to the sustainable aspect of the program because people are then motivated to continue with it even after the project is over.

Highest Ranking Officials – A challenge encountered was maintaining the extensive involvement of the highest ranks of the security sector, including generals, the police, political parties and the business sector. In the evaluation of the Voz di Paz/Interpeace programme it was concluded that it is imperative to foster a relationship with this network in order to have a consequential influence in conflict mediation in this sphere.

Inclusiveness and Status of Neutrality – Even though they are often difficult to maintain in certain aspects of the implementation process, the two were identified as key characteristics of the program that allowed it to be as successful as it has been.


The program has thrived in developing a nationwide debate about the causes of conflict and, simultaneously, using this strategy to promote dialogue as a non-violent tool for the negotiation of multiple stakeholders’ interests. In 2010, about 85% of the population was familiar with the program and the national debates, which is in part due to the clever use of the media, especially radio broadcasts, to disseminate the information.

Furthermore, one of the most successful aspects of Voz di Paz has been the set up of the regional permanent structures, the RSDs, since they have served as role models in the community for nonviolence and good governance through the collaboration based on trust between the people and the local state representatives. Through the use of a brochure, they have also managed to circulate information about SSR and explain how it can be used as an opportunity for change. Lastly, Voz di Paz has already had an effect on some of the political-military elite by inspiring the Commission of National Conference for Reconciliation to use a similar inclusive-approach for the National Conference.

Selected Resources

Consultancy on the Evaluation of the INTERPEACE Voz di Paz Programme in Guinea-Bissau (2009-2010), Annette Englert, 2011.

Projecto “Voz di Paz” lança livro intitulado “Autarquias na Guiné-Bissau a visão dos Cidadãos”,, 2015.

Roots of Conflicts in Guinea-Bissau: The voice of the people, Voz di Paz, 2010.

Case Study

"Chain of payments" project within the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC)


From the height of the civil war in 1998 until 2009, there were over 5.4 million deaths in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), making it one of the most deadly and protracted conflicts since the end of the Second World War. [1] The DRC has persistently ranked amongst the worst performing countries in the UNDP Human Development report rankings. [2] One of the lingering and most prominent causes of insecurity and threats to the civilian population directly stemmed from the poorly managed, ineffective and unaccountable armed groups, including both legitimate and illegitimate armed groups. Following the signature of the Sun City Agreement in 2002 and the subsequent creation of the The Forces Armées de la Republique Democratique du Congo (FARDC), the armed forces continued to frequently cited  for wide spread human rights abuses. In various reports [3] , no meaningful institution protecting human rights could surpass the threat posed by DRC’s state security forces to its own citizens. Reform of the security sector institutions was continuously neglected leading up to the civil war and immediately thereafter, leading to poor control and management, low troop morale, and high incidence of political interference and systemic corruption.

As a response, in 2005 the EU deployed the EUSEC RD CONGO mission, which was launched to support the Congolese Government and security institutions to set up effective institutions that were capable of guaranteeing the security of the Congolese people. An underlying aim of the EU support was to ensure that such security institutions were respecting democratic standards, human rights and the rule of law, as well as the principles of good governance. Initially, the EU deployed advisors and experts were embedded into various departments and administration in the security sector institutions. The small size of the EUSEC mission did not allow for large scale engagements at operational level and a strategic advisory niche was preferred that focused on information and data collection capacity. In parallel, MONUSCO provided most of the operational level support. [4]

Entry Point

Long-standing perceptions of impunity by FARDC and rebel groups, alongside the need to integrate rebel groups into the FARDC as part of the peace process, placed security sector governance and effective resource management amongst the initial EU priorities for supporting SSR in DRC. At the onset of the EUSEC mission an operational audit was conducted as a means of designing the future work programme of the mission. The assessment identified poor working and living conditions experienced by troops, as well as a limited centralised information collection system, as a key weakness influencing the effectiveness of the FARDC. It is notable that the assessment did not highlight or assess governance issues. [5]  Amongst the proposals of the assessment was a need to conduct a census of troops as an entry-point for jump starting a more holistic SSR process and to address the issues of non-payment or poor payment of salaries to troops, which was a contributing factor for the poor state of the FARDC. The operational audit became a key document shaping the overall reform of the armed forces.


From the onset the census uncovered over 70,000 ghost soldiers (eg. soldiers who were receiving salary but were not in active duty or registered or simply did not exist). In parallel, the issuance of biometric IDs to soldiers of integrated brigades allowed for a documentation of individual soldiers. The issuance of IDs, census and a centralised salary payment process collectively allowed the separation of salary payments from the chain of command and helped to ensure that the central administration of the armed forces has a more realistic count of available manpower within the armed forces (120,000 soldiers instead of 190,000). The separation of salary payments from the chain of command helped to reduce the incidence of cases whereby senior officers were withholding pay or taking a percentage of salaries from lower ranked soldiers. Soldiers receiving even a limited salary were a visible and key impact for a relatively modest effort by EUSEC, especially compared to the large scale train and equip programmes of donor partners. The elimination of ghost workers from the payroll eventually allowed for salaries of troops to be raised using existing budget allocations previously allocated to ghost soldiers. In turn, this improved troop morale but also reduced the dependence of troops on illegal activities for subsistence.   

Lessons Identified

  • 1: One of the limitations of the EUSEC engagement was that it did not lead to regulatory or functional reforms in the short to medium term. The lack of additional reforms undermined the long-term impact of the EUSEC efforts. Eventually a narrow reform process of the payroll system and failure to address the underlying management/accountability deficits within the armed forces provided opportunities for senior officials to eventually circumvent the system related to salary payments by siphoning off other budget lines instead (e.g. food provisions). [6]
  • 2: The limited political engagement and political capacity of EUSEC restricted its ability to address the political impediments to reforming structures, management systems and accountability lines. In the DRC context the SSR process is heavily influenced, if not controlled, by the office of the President and a failure to engage politically meant that key issues related to human resource management and chain of command remain unaddressed.
  • 3: With programmes that have limited resources, focusing on high level governance issues can provide a niche for the programme and raise its profile and visibility.

Selected resources

EU Mission to provide advice and assistance for security sector reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the area of defence”; European Union - Common Security and Defence Policy, July 2015

EU Security Sector Reform Advisory Mission to the DR Congo Armed Forces”; European Union - Common Security and Defence Policy, April 2014

EU Mission to provide advice and assistance for security sector reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the area of defence”; European Union - Common Security and Defence Policy, December 2012

EU Mission to provide advice on and assistance with security sector reform in the Democratic Republic of Congo”; European Union - European Security and Defence Policy, July 2009

The Democratic Republic of Congo: Taking a Stand on Security Sector Reform (2012) 

[1] DCAF Yearbook 2009, p.89 
[2] Human Development Report 2006
[3]  Can the DRC army stop abusing human rights?
[4] DCAF Yearbook 2009, p.102
[5] Narrowing the Gap between Theory and Practice, DCAF (2011) 
[6] DCAF Annual Report 2009, p.111
Case Study

Civil Society Capacity Building for Security Forces in the Philippines


After a long history of colonialism in the Philippines imposed by Spain and then the United States, the policies of the Filipino government about martial law and authoritarianism became vehicles for the proliferation of violations of human rights by security forces. Given that the military had become part of the security problem, the Filipino civil society group Balay Mindanaw realised the need for and supported the incorporation of military forces into the peacebuilding efforts. They took it upon themselves to build the capacity of military officials, staff, and civilian reserve forces in terms of peacebuilding values, skills and processes. Given that soldiers are trained for fighting, they needed to additionally strengthen their communication skills in order to deescalate and ease conflicts. In order to do this, Filipino civil society provided training and advice on conflict assessment, facilitation, mediation, negotiation, building a culture of peace and other conflict transformation strategies making the security forces more effective in their peacebuilding participation.

Entry points

Though at the beginning it seemed like an odd pairing, the following entry points allowed Balay Mindanaw to engage with the military forces:

  • Training - Although the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) was initially created for civil society, through a partnership between Balay Mindanaw and then Colonel Ramyundo B. Ferrer, military personnel began to apply to its courses. The Institute established strict rules for them in order to integrate them with the rest of the student population which comprised of civil society. Military personnel were not allowed to have guns, wear uniforms, have bodyguards or provide their ranks. These interactions were significantly valuable for both groups given that they normally would not have the chance to work together and it facilitated the formation of relationships, as well as the breakdown of stereotypes.
  • Support – Various Filipino civil society groups, along with Balay Mindanaw, the MPI faculty and Catholic Relief Services followed up with the trained military officials ensuring they would have both formal and informal support mechanisms, ranging from phone calls and texts to visits to military camps and hosting regular meetings. Military personnel were also invited to participate in province-based networks of peacebuilders, where local leaders, military commanders and the rest of the community worked together to bring peace to the area by creating local zones of peace, facilitating and encouraging local dialogue between conflicting parties, and creating community development projects for the benefit of the population.
  • Policy Advocacy - Balay Mindanaw’s peacebuilding efforts also turned into policy advocacy. For example, they promoted the institutionalisation of peacebuilding and conflict management skills courses in all of the formal academic institutions of the Department of National Defence and the Armed Forces. Moreover, they advocated for a different way to encourage the promotion of soldiers, one in which they would be honoured for their peace leadership and not simply based on the amount of enemies defeated or weapons captured.


Through the successful collaboration between the two groups, leaders in civil society networks began to perceive the military as a supporting partner in the peace process instead of another part of the warring parties. Additionally, soldiers under Brigadier General Ferrer’s command began building closer relationships with the citizens they protected and worked by their side in building houses and water supply systems. This resulted in citizens actively going to them with their security concerns instead of fearing them. Especially since security forces began mediating small and large conflicts in the communities, including land disputes.

Lessons Identified

Working together proved successful in many ways and most importantly in breaking down the barriers between each other. A strategy that proved useful for easing the relationship between military personnel and civil society, was the ability to listen closely to each participant without interrupting and demonstrating respect through all interactions. Also, giving security forces the perspective of the civil society allowed them to approach their work in a different manner that often times proved more constructive. Brigadier General Ferrer, for example, encouraged his troops to smile and greet people with respect when they would be in a town, instead of being fierce and acting tough. This in turn made soldiers more approachable and added a human dimension to them. By collaborating with each other, the two groups were able to identify and work through local tensions together before those turned into violent conflict, as well as increase the military forces’ accountability through the relationships built with the different actors of society.

Selected Resources

The Philippines: Civil Society-Military-Police Capacity Building

Building Capacity on Conflict Management and Peace Building for the Military

Case Study

Human Rights Accountability in the Colombian Military Armed Forces


In 2008, as a result of public and international pressure over overwhelming evidence of systematic human rights abuse committed by the Colombian armed forces, particularly extrajudicial executions, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced the establishment of 15 internal measures aimed at improving the human rights performance of the Armed Forces. The measures were part of the government’s comprehensive policy on human rights and international humanitarian law created in 2008. They were designed to build on Directive 300-38 from 2007, which emphasizes captures over kills as a primary criterion for evaluating military success; and a human rights certification program based on polygraph assessment and verification of operational history for all candidates for promotion to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and above.

Additionally, Directive 25 (2008) of the MoD created a system for receiving complaints of violation of human rights on the national level, as well as a system for addressing them and ensuring that the complaints are recognized by the pertinent civilian judicial authorities and notified to the Inspector General so that proper administrative and disciplinary measures can be taken.

Entry points

Understanding their limited capacity to institutionalise the 15 measures the Colombian MoD sought partnerships with academic institutions, civil society and the international community in an unprecedented manner. For example, they worked with the Pontifica Universidad Javeriana to develop and implement a Single Teaching Model (MUP) on human rights and international humanitarian law, and created instructor guidelines in the process.  Moreover, the MoD sought support from the ICRC and the UN in country for training and accompaniment (referring to technical support in the form of recommendations and not meaning monitoring or evaluation) to help bring credibility to the implementation of the 15 measures.

For example, in 2009, the ICRC began assisting the armed forces carry out workshops on lessons learned from past human rights violations. Case studies provided the Divisions with models for how to respect human rights and international humanitarian law when carrying out their duties.

In 2012, a team of SSR and human rights experts (including the author) was formed by UN OHCHR at the request of the MoD to accompany the military forces in the implementation of seven of the 15 measures. These included accompanying the MoD in the revision of their human rights training, system of human rights certification system for all officers and establishment of a human rights complaint reception system at the tactical level amongst others. In the absence of an international accreditation system for human rights and IHL military formation, training and education programmes, this accompaniment by OHCHR Office in Colombia (funded by in-country donors) was a good example of an SSR monitoring mechanism being locally driven and internationally supported.


One very interesting relationship that is worth highlighting for its innovation is the MoD’s working relationship with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). This has resulted in a comprehensive policy focuses on Sexual Reproductive Rights, Equality and Gender-based Violence, Sexual Health and Reproduction, with an Emphasis on HIV. The programme includes incorporating obligatory and specialised education and formation training to military and police forces, from recruit to officer level, making Colombia the first Latin American country to do so.

In regards to sexual violence and other forms of gender-based violence (GBV), through this programme the Ministry generates internal awareness of its no tolerance policy as well as of the applicable internal regulations, domestic legislation and the international legal norms such as International Humanitarian Law (IHL). The training on awareness and prevention of GBV becomes progressively sophisticated up through the ranks with command responsibility a central theme, including at the lower levels of command. Moreover, with the assistance of UNFPA, an internal (but public) protocol was created to orientate on managing the prevention of GBV in armed conflict. See 

In 2011, the Ministry, in partnership with UNFPA published their training manual on the prevention of sexual violence and protection of women and international humanitarian law. The accessibility of this training document demonstrated good practice for democratic governance in a society that counts on a strong gender movement and on a very critical civil society supporting women’s and victims’ rights.

Since 2008, the Colombian Military have reported a sharp decrease in external complaints against their personnel in operations. The reduction in the number of complaints made against the armed forces is one of the Ministry’s key indicators that the comprehensive policy is having a positive impact.  The Ministry has also reported building a number of partnerships with various NGOs and representatives from minority communities such as indigenous groups to participate in their training programs. This outreach for external partnerships is a positive step towards strengthening a culture of democratic governance.

Lessons Identified

In spite of progress being documented by the MoD via their statistics on human rights complaints, it is important to highlight that in the case of the military forces, it is the same institution that monitors and processes the complaints made against them. The Colombian military has offices and accessible communication lines open to the public throughout the country established as a result of Directive 25 (2008). This includes the establishment of a human rights complaints office in each military unit and a national toll free number for human rights complaints.

However, the manner in which the military processes complaints made against them is not yet a fully transparent process. This implies that the number of complaints registered and made public by the Colombian military may not reflect reality, including in cases of allegations of GBV. This in turn may impact how the military are converting lessons identified stemming from allegations of human rights and IHL violations against them into didactical human rights and IHL training material.

As a result, the UN has been advocating that the MoD ensure their complaints system has connectivity with civilian agencies on these issues and to make public the claims reported to each division commander or regional police chief through periodic television appearances.

The openness showed by the Colombian MoD should be recognised as a positive model, especially considering that armed confrontations between armed actors continue and mistrust between the military forces and civil society has deep roots. Since then, the MoD has learned to better cooperate with different actors on accountability and use the resulting partnership to become more effective operationally.  

Selected Resources

  1. Política en derechos sexuales y reproductivos, equidad y violencia basada en género, salud sexual y reproductiva, con énfasis en VIH
  2. Prevención de la violencia sexual protección de la mujer y derecho internacional humanitario
  3. Protocolo para la fuerza pública en el manejo de la violencia sexual con énfasis en la violencia sexual con ocasión del conflicto armado
Case Study

Small Grants Scheme (SGS) in Albania: Swedish Support on Community Policing Programme (SACP)


Since the collapse of communism, Albania has experienced two phases of SSR. The first one saw official military and security institutions remain heavily dependent on political elites until the 1997 crisis, while the second one consisted on the introduction of major reforms, culminating with the country’s accession to NATO in 2009 (Qesaruku and Baka, 2010). The international community has been greatly involved in supporting SSR programmes, for instance through the deployment of the EU Multinational Advisory Police Element (MAPE) until 2001, or the Weapons in Exchange for Development programme led by UNDP (Ryan, 2006).

In this context, Sweden has a long history of support to Albania. In partnership with UNDP, it first led on Small Arms and Light Weapons collection project, and later co-implemented with UNICEF, a Juvenile Justice programme working in pre-detention and detention sites dealing with minors in conflict with the law. The on-going Swedish Support on Community Policing Programme (SACP) finds particular resonance in the Albanian State Police’s 2014-2017 Strategy, which highlights the centrality of community policing as their chosen model.

Overall, substantial progress has been made, but Albania is still facing endemic crime and widespread corruption, which in turn hampers public trust in security institutions.

Entry point

The importance of community policing as a strategy for the Albania State Police allowed the SACP to focus on three main areas:

1) support for the identification and start-up of a performance management mechanism for the ASP;

2) partnership development, including youth and police partnerships; 

3) tackling domestic violence.

Addressing partnership development, the Small Grants Scheme (SGS) is part of the SACP and is based on the notion that the police need to develop trust with the population it is serving, namely by focusing specifically on youth and improving the image of the police. Committees have been established in several locations in Albania, comprised of representatives from the local governments, regional education directorates, the police, parents’ boards, minority communities, and youth councils. These committees award small grants (up to 5’000€) to individuals, NGOs or consortiums to implement grassroots projects.

Of various nature, these projects should either: build partnerships between the police and schools; aim to promote and involve young people in activities on education; cultivate a sense of community; build partnerships with vulnerable groups and increase confidence of these groups towards the police; find alternatives for peaceful conflict resolution and civic education youth; raise the awareness of young people on issues such as drug abuse, domestic violence, human trafficking, diversity issues, traffic/road safety, gambling, and bullying (Guidelines on Small Grant Schemes, Swedish Support to the Ministry of Interior/Albanian State Police on Community Policing). Once an individual project is selected, the grant is administered and managed by the Programme Management Team (PMT) in cooperation with the Albanian State Police and local stakeholders.       

Lessons identified

The SGS are based on participatory approaches, and have therefore strengthened:

  • Accessibility: the committees are present in several districts of the Albanian territory, a decentralisation allowed by the design of the programme, and which overcomes issues of geographic distance and weak infrastructure. Also, the eligibility criteria for grants are flexible, since recipients of the grants can be individuals or groups.
  • Local ownership: projects implemented at a local scale, with local actors, achieve limited but tangible results in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and ensure local ownership of the project. Civil society actors and local communities are empowered through joint decision-making, and their relationship with local authorities is strengthened.
  • Representativity: local actors, including representatives of vulnerable groups and local associations, play a central role in proposing grassroots initiatives and selecting them for implementation.


The committees positively impact dialogue at the local level, by bringing stakeholders together to discuss security concerns and identify solutions and priorities in dealing with these issues. The selection and implementation processes are furthermore considered transparent, thanks namely to a clear communication strategy and good media coverage of the various projects. Overall, the impression that the projects are locally owned is widespread.

The Small Grants Scheme is currently in its fourth phase, which encompasses 17 projects. Since the effective launch of the programme in 2013, almost 40 initiatives have been put into place, reaching up to several hundred participants at the time. Partnerships between schools and the Albanian State Police have been particularly numerous, and activities across projects have been diverse – ranging from training workshops on crime prevention, to awareness-raising sessions with youth, the production of promotional and educative material, and cultural or sports events. Regarding themes, the SGS has similarly encouraged diversity by addressing the harmful effects of alcohol, drugs and gambling, discrimination faced by the LGBT community, human trafficking and armed criminality, and by fostering alternative resolution of conflict mechanisms and the development of trust between vulnerable groups and the police. 

Selected resources 

Lessons from Community Policing: process, tools and transparency, Victoria Walker, ISSAT Blog, 2014

Swedish Support on Community Policing Programme in Albania, SACP website

Security sector reform in Albania: Challenges and failures since the collapse of communism, M. Qesaruku and B. Baka, 2010.

Security Sector Reform in Albania, Initiative for Peacebuilding, 2009

An Evaluation of the UNDP’s Support to Security Sector Reform in the Republic of Albania, UNDP, 2006

Case Study

Moldova – NORLAM: Fostering Political Engagement with Competent, Flexible Support


Moldova is a country that saw a difficult period after the end of the Soviet Union, marked by disillusionment with weak democratic governance, the rise of crime followed by harsh crackdowns and tough justice practices. The governments of 2009 and 2013 explicitly prioritised the reform of the justice systems. A Justice Sector Reform Strategy, drafted by the Ministry of Justice in 2011, underlines the political will for compliance with internationally recognised standards. Moldova also began negotiations on an Association Agreement with the European Union in 2009, signing it in 2014.

After assessing the possibility of cooperation in 2006, Norway launched its Norwegian Mission of Rule of Law Advisers in Moldova (NORLAM) in 2007, accompanying these developments and capitalising on the political engagement for judicial reform.

Entry Points

NORLAM’s rule of law experts were mandated to assist in “Competence building within the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the judicial system, the General Prosecutor’s Office and the legal profession, with the aim of increasing the efficiency of the institutions guaranteeing human rights and the rule of law in the Republic of Moldova in line with Moldova’s European objectives and commitments”.[1] NORLAM has undertaken this mission via a competence building approach. Through seminars, working groups, bilateral meetings, NORLAM has been able to teach and transfer knowledge to individuals and institutions.

The important competence building function at the technical level has over the years allowed NORLAM to play an advocacy role that was not explicitly mentioned in the MoU. The technical support led to contacts and advice with personnel in the relevant institutions and thus helped place topics, such as juvenile justice, on the Government’s priorities.

Additionally, the MoU mentioned the support of specific institutions within the broader criminal justice chain as a way to tackle the broader goals of assisting human rights and rule of law in Moldova. The inclusion of this general objective in a formal, political document allowed NORLAM to ensure engagement based on needs and demands for that end. NORLAM has been able to extend its support to other institutions involved in the criminal justice chain that were not initially mentioned. For example, NORLAM has been able to support the Department of Penitentiaries in improving its human resources and rethinking its staff policies.


NORLAM has assisted in a high number of activities (typically more than 20 per year on a wide range of issues). Given its complementary role to the Moldovan authorities or other donors, it is difficult to untangle the particular impact of NORLAM’s activities on the evolution of the justice chain from that of other actors. Despite concerns that NORLAM’s efficacy is hindered by the entity’s lack of legal status, which affects its operations on a day-to-day basis, the programme is nevertheless widely seen as having a positive influence on the behaviour and capacities of the justice chain.

NORLAM has contributed to improving Moldova’s legal framework, bringing it closer to EU standards. The criminal code has notably benefited from this contribution, which shows, for example, in the increased acknowledgement of the presumption of innocence and reasonable doubt in proceedings. Another issue where NORLAM’s impact is clearly visible relates to capacity building. NORLAM has used trainings, support material, and advice with regards to human resources policies to improve the capacities of personnel in the justice chain, from the penitentiary system (more efficient and well-regarded now) to prosecutors and judges. NORLAM’s long-term efforts are also influential in better performance and practice in punishment and imprisonment. The use of alternatives to incarceration such as probation is a regular practice for example, while imprisonment levels decreased considerably in comparison with 2007. There is also more emphasis on fair treatment, particularly for the more vulnerable or the young.


Formal political engagement can foster flexible support

The MoU specified concrete aspects of NORLAM’s engagement without foreclosing an evolution of its mission, and underlined the general objective driving Norway’s support. In doing so, the MoU concretised political will for judicial reform, as it inscribed general long-term objectives in the document, while also allowing NORLAM to take advantage of political openings and changes. NORLAM was able to gradually support additional institutions along the criminal justice chain, for example with seminars for judges and prosecutors to defence lawyers. This flexible support allows NORLAM to remain pertinent over the years and to be responsive to requests and contemporary needs and projects of the Moldovan Government.

Technical expertise favours across-the-chain support

NORLAM’s highly qualified and diverse team is composed of professionals from the different criminal justice links. The high level of knowledge and experience promotes positive relationships and transfers of useful expertise to support the actors affected by different reforms over the years. With a range of specific technical profiles in the team, NORLAM can advise a different and evolving set of institutions, becoming a unique partner with engagement across the criminal justice chain.


  • Memorandum of Understanding between Norway and Moldova on the Norwegian contribution to strengthening the rule of law in the Republic of Moldova, 2007.
  • DCAF-ISSAT, Review of NORLAM, 2014.
  • NORLAM, Annual Report, 2015.
  • Scanteam, Review of NORLAG and NORLAM, 2009.

[1] Memorandum of Understanding between Norway and Moldova on the Norwegian contribution to strenghtening the rule of law in the Republic of Moldova, 2007.

Case Study

Burundi – Dutch Security Sector Development (SSD) Programme : Building Local Trust in a Difficult Environment


The Arusha Agreement signed in 2000 marks the beginning of SSR in Burundi. The agreement established human security and political neutrality as the guiding principles of the national security forces. Peace and ceasefire agreements between the government and CNDD-FDD (Conseil National pour la Défense de la Démocratie-Forces pour la Défense de la Démocratie - 2003), and later with FNL (the Hutu Rebel Group - 2008; 2009), were formulated in reference to the Arusha Agreement. These ceasefire agreements aimed to encompass the reforms regarding the reintegration and demobilisation of former combatants, as well as the need to balance the representation of different factions within the security sector.

In support of the direction put forward by the Arusha Agreement and the following ceasefire agreements the UN led several missions in the country from 2004 until 2015, carrying out institutional reforms and building integrated national defence and internal security forces. The peacekeeping forces were gradually scaled down. The United Nations Electoral Observation Mission was established in the beginning of 2015 and operated one year in the country. UN is currently represented in the country through the Office of the Special Advisor to the Secretary General.

Despite this agenda, and the institutional efforts led by the UN and donor countries, Burundi suffered from weak institutions and continued political violence which escalated in April 2015 with the protests against the unconstitutional bid of president Nkurunziza for a third term and were supressed by security forces. The clashes between the security forces and armed opposition groups have continued well into 2016 with the population facing major security challenges and civilians driven out of the country in large numbers.[1] However important insights into the political nature of SSR can be gathered from the Burundian case.

Entry points

The Netherlands was among the several international donors supporting SSR in Burundi. Among other things, the SSD Program implemented by the Dutch MFA aimed to institutionalise the security forces and stretched over a total of eight years in four 2-year phases. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by both the donor and the host country at the beginning explains the long term pillar structure in detail.

This long term structure divided in phases, as opposed to a single term fixed structure, enabled the Dutch together with the Burundian to identify intermediate objectives in parallel to the main goals. By investing in informal and formal networks and appropriate staffing, the Dutch were able to empower the local decision makers and engage them in a discussion on the future of SSR in their country. The Dutch programme also attempted to support security and justice issues with projects which identified and continuously adjusted the programme’s focus. This resulted in the mission being able to respond to political developments in the host country rapidly, as they occurred. Local leadership was increasingly empowered as the latter phases of the programme were launched.

The Dutch-Burundian programme set expectations for early deliverables which should foster trust and support joint design in the later phases of the programme. The Dutch-Burundian programme also allowed for flexible funding for unexpected windows of opportunity by making generic funds available at the outset of the project. 

Lessons identified

The SSD Programme in Burundi was able to build local trust and enhance political engagement from early stages.  

Key security and justice issues were continuously assessed and their political scope for positive change was realised.

  • Political engagement was carried out on a daily basis and efforts were spent to act quickly in response to political developments. This was implemented by several projects developed at the beginning of the programme. The baseline assessment of the Burundian and military and police forces, for example, conveyed new issues and insights on the programme. Another project created an open space for discussing SSG issues with both governmental and non-governmental stakeholders which turned into a working group in the later phases of the project.  
  • The staff concentrated on building high level support as well as building informal networks with the decision makers in the justice and security area in Burundi.

Intermediate objectives and milestones were identified for longer-term direction.

  • With the distinct structure of the programme divided into four phases, short term deliverables were facilitated. The trainings and material developed at the earlier phases of the program helped generate trust among the local interlocutors, providing them with an initial focus and familiarity with the programme, which contributed to achieving longer term strategic objectives like the discussion of more sensitive security challenges. It also helped local capacity building and empowerment as the local stakeholders contributed and had an impact on the short term deliverables.

Domestic political support was built from early on.

  • One of the first projects was a baseline assessment of the Burundian military and police forces, and another was designed to create an open space for discussing security sector governance issues with a broad range of governmental and non-governmental stakeholders. As a result of these two projects, new issues and insights were brought into discussions which could shape the programme in the years to come. The open space with stakeholders gradually evolved into a working group that slowly built the confidence needed to discuss sensitive issues and secured local trust.

Official agreements helped create and reinforce political engagement.

  • The programme was governed by an eight-year Memorandum of Understanding which provided a stable indication of long term Dutch support, and also highlighted the importance of local participation as an important enabler for programme success. The significance attached to local stakeholders in the governing document further helped building trust and ensuring political engagement from the host country.


The Burundian Ministry of Defence asked advice from the Dutch on the strategic defence review close to the end of the second two-year period. This would not have been possible if the SSD Program was not successful in establishing local trust and getting the politics right. Although similar level of trust building was not witnessed in the police pillar of the programme as no such high level advising was requested in the latter sector, it is significant that various local decision makers in the defence sector did not refrain from this engagement with the Netherlands. Given the tense Burundian environment and its evolution, the good practice achieved by the Dutch MFA Programme is further proof on how local trust can be built in fragile and sceptical political contexts by being politically proactive.

Several in depth case studies on the Dutch SSD Program have been conducted by the OECD on the programming success ,  offering a comparison of several international SSR support missions (including by ISSAT) : Capacity and accountability in the military: some examples from the SSD-program, Burundi.

Selected Resources


Case Study

Triangulation Rapport Between State, Donor and Civil Society in Indonesia


When General Suharto resigned from his presidency in 1998, Indonesia was stuck in an economic and institutional crisis. Power had been centralized in Suharto’s hands for decades, sustained by a highly politicized army. Indonesia’s judiciary had lost its authority, and was also impaired by corruption. At the request of the government of Indonesia, the IMF provided support for economic revival and started focusing on the installation of a bankruptcy regime for corporate sector recovery from 2000 to 2004. The Netherlands supported this endeavour by funding technical assistance to strengthen the judiciary’s capacity for the bankruptcy laws’ implementation.

The IMF/Netherlands Program for Legal and Judicial Reforms created Commercial Courts to this end, but it soon became clear that they could not achieve their aim unless a transformation of the entire judicial system was undertaken: the crisis of the country’s institutions was running so deep that the Commercial Courts suffered from the same shortcomings as the rest of the judiciary. Furthermore, resistance to change among Indonesians complicated the endeavour. Firstly, the externally imposed intervention did not resonate well with key actors, who felt like they had no ownership of the process. Secondly, judicial corruption had become internalised as normal practice over the years, decreasing local actors’ willingness to address them.

Entry Point

The difficult dynamic surrounding the legal and judicial reform changed when a new Chair of the Supreme Court, a non-career judge who was more open to reform, was appointed to replace the retiring Chair. He was not opposed to structural change, which created a window of opportunity to address the deeper issues in the judiciary. The IMF/Netherlands Programme consequently shifted its attention from the Commercial Courts to the Supreme Court, working to restore the latter’s institutional capacity and efficiency.

When the People’s Consultative Assembly, Indonesia’s legislative branch, amended the Constitution to provide for a new Judicial Commission, the IMF/Netherlands Programme initiated a series of workshops and seminars on institutional development. This generated fruitful exchanges between the Supreme Court leadership, the IMF resident experts and NGOs, especially the Institute for Judicial Independence that belonged to the Indonesian Centre for the Study of Law and Policy. The latter started a substantive research process targeting the judiciary, supported by the Supreme Court leadership that granted the researchers access on all levels. These different actors now interacted regularly, complemented by workshops and study trips for the judiciary. The research process produced so-called ‘blueprints’, strategy papers that provided specific approaches to reform at different levels, widely perceived as a significant step to an overall planning model for the reconstruction of the Supreme Court and lower civil courts.

The triangular approach of involving state actors, donors and civil society helped to alter the dynamic of reform in Indonesia. Actors with a strong commitment to reform, such as the Indonesian Centre for the Study of Law and Policy, were given an important voice in the endeavour. As a result the process gained greater legitimacy because local actors complemented donors’ input.

Lessons Identified

Working with Local Expertise and a Network of Resources – The special relationship that emerged between state, donors and civil society allowed tackling legal and judicial reform on a broad-based footing, drawing strength from a group of committed reformists. The extensive use of local knowledge and expertise, through the inclusion of the Indonesian Centre for the Study of Law and Policy and other civil society organizations, contributed to a sense of genuine ownership of the process which helped to overcome some of the initial resistance to reform. It also motivated the press, the public, and a new generation of NGOs committed to reform, to keep pushing for change.

Identifying and Using Windows of Opportunity – The case shows that momentum for reform can arise suddenly, through small developments such as the arrival of a new person in a key position.Surrounding dynamics should therefore be evaluated carefully with a view to identifying potential entry points, even if they are not obvious at first sight.

Flexibility of Donor Programming and Funding – TheIMF and the Netherland’s had the flexibility to adapt their programme and shift their budget when a window of opportunity appeared, which was paramount to supporting and enhancing the local drive for reform when it occurred. It is fundamental to program success that they have the ability to respond flexibly to such developments.


The IMF/Netherlands Programme created a platform for exchange that helped overcome initial inertia to reform because it brought together different actors and gave a voice to locally rooted, committed reformists. The so-called ‘blueprints’ are a tangible project outcome and present a useful road map with potential to keep the reform momentum alive. Yet, they were not a panacea to repairing the country’s judicial system. Their implementation remains a challenge, in part due to some persisting opposition and in part due to a lack of capacity. At the operational level, judges are required to familiarise themselves with and put into practice these pathways to reform, while political leadership also needs to show willingness and commitment to empower judicial institutions.

At the same time, the triangulation can serve as a model for how reform efforts might be undertaken in other difficult environments, and the blueprints may be a useful planning format for institutional reform outside of Indonesia. Nevertheless, the case also shows that efforts beyond the development of a road map are necessary. The momentum generated through the triangulation process can only be sustained if translated into actual reforms, which remains a challenging task due to persisting opposition and a lack of institutional capacity. 

Case Study

CICIG: A Mechanism for Justice and Security Sector Reform - Guatemala


Guatemala experienced over three decades of intermittent armed conflict starting in the 1960s. Among the main perpetrators of violence were illegal security forces and clandestine security structures (Cuerpos Ilegales y Aparatos Clandestinos de Seguridad CIACS). When peace was made in 1996, the country was marked by violence, poverty and institutional weakness, fostering corruption and impunity. Commitments to strengthening justice and human rights institutions, fighting impunity for human rights violations and dismantling paramilitary groups were included in the 1996 Agreement on a Firm and Lasting Peace.

Due to the continued influence and threat of remaining CIACS, in 2002 a civil society proposal called for an international commission to investigate threats against the justice institutions responsible for investigating their crimes. After four years of intense political dialogue and continuous international pressure the Agreement to Establish the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG) was signed by the Guatemalan government and the United Nations in 2006. CICIG was established in 2007 with a two-year mandate as an independent, international body to support state institutions and strengthen criminal justice and accountability for crimes committed by members of CIACS. It is set to end in September 2017, but the Guatemalan president has already suggested seeking approval from the national congress to renew the mandate for another 2 years as had been the practice established by his predecessors.


Entry points

The agreement establishing CICIG stated two main objectives: to support, strengthen and assist state institutions responsible for the investigation and prosecution of crimes allegedly committed by CIACS or associated with them, and on the other hand to establish mechanisms and procedures for the protection of the right to life and to personal integrity, pursuant to international commitments with respect to the protection of fundamental rights.

CICIG was thus tasked with investigating and identifying existing CIACS structures, forms of operation and sources of financing, as well as assisting the state to dismantle CIACS and investigate and prosecute members for their crimes. In addition CICIG was tasked with making public policy and institutional reform recommendations to prevent the re-emergence of such groups to the Guatemalan government.

CICIG supported the Guatemalan government in various roles, ranging from providing technical support for specialized training courses to acting as a private prosecutor. Achievements include the creation of a witness protection programme, tightened gun controls, rules for court-ordered wiretaps and the freezing of assets, the creation of high-risk courts for especially dangerous defendants, investigations resulting in charges against top public officials for extrajudicial prosecutions, fraud, illicit association and homicide. Most notably, it has exposed the massive corruption scheme La Línea in 2015, leading to the resignation and arrest of president Otto Pérez Molina. According to a 2016 report, CICIG is supported by 66% of the Guatemalan society and is thus the most trusted institution in the country.


Lessons Identified

Political independence is crucial, so is political will:

The political and economic independence of CICIG has allowed for changes and reforms that national institutions struggled to implement. The political will by the national leadership was necessary for a politically independent and powerful CICIG; results would have been harder to achieve if CICIG did not engage at the higher level to channel political will, a task that would be a major role of the CICIG Commissioner. The political pressure by the international community could be considered equally as important in securing political buy in.

Trust-building can enhance marge de manoeuvre and effectiveness

An official agreement with the national government, like the one CICIG had with Guatemala, is vital in building local trust with key judicial institutions. Although the CICIG relied on the support of Guatemalan civil society groups working for human rights and justice to achieve effective outcomes, their partnership with the Public Prosecutor was fundamental. Skills and competences were transferred through trust-based forms of collaboration involving joint working groups, investigations and trial preparations. The support CICIG enjoyed from governmental and non-governmental agents enabled CICIG to work on a wide range of issues and effectively tackle challenges. This support laid the foundations for working relationships to become based on trust as senior state officials were being successfully prosecuted, and judicial actors and human rights defenders were becoming less threatened. 

CICIG’s working strategy and political activism opened doors for others to succeed

CICIG’s achievements were highly influenced by the personal management of each commissioner, who would become extremely visible public figures. Political activism was critical to removing obstacles within a mandate lasting only 2 years, with no automatic guarantees of extension. CICIG’s working strategy had to carefully plan and prioritise investigations under these restrictions as well as ensure an enabling environment for the local judicial system. CICIG thus assumed high profile cases that would produce the most strategic impact in combating impunity and orientated their local capacity building strategy to meet this objective. These high profile cases primarily focused on influential State actors with ties to criminal organisations rather than focusing on crimes of the past, considered a fundamental part of the Peace Accords and the basis for the genesis of the CICIG. However, with the spotlight on the CICIG and its achievements many key human rights cases dealing with crimes of the past were significantly advanced. This included the sentencing of two former members of the military to 360 years in jail for the murder, rape and sexual enslavement of indigenous women (Sepur Zarco Case 2016) and arrest of several former military officers on charges of forced disappearance and crimes against humanity based on evidence uncovered at the military center in Cobán.



With the exposure of the corruption scheme La Línea and the resignation and arrest of a president, CICIG is generally considered a success story. Between 2008 and 2014, the level of impunity in the country decreased (Public Prosecutor’s Office, Work Reports 2008-2013; Annual Reports 2014-2015), and is likely to continue decreasing as a result of a more effective criminal justice system. In addition, the issue of impunity is no longer simply a priority issue for human rights NGOs, but is now of greater visible interest to the general public as citizens are becoming more proactive and vocal in demanding to tackle impunity and corruption and hold government officials responsible.

CICIG resolved numerous legal cases in cooperation with the public prosecutors. The most frequently cited achievements include the above-mentioned La Línea, as well as helping to reveal the mechanism behind targeted killings linked back to a former minister of the interior (Ibid.). Today, CICIG serves as a good practice example for tackling corruption and organised crime facilitated by weak state institutions.


Crutch to Catalyst? The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, International Crisis Group, 2016. 

Acuerdo Global Sobre Derechos Humanos

Agreement to Establish CICIG

Against the Odds, CICIG in Guatemala, Open Society Institute, 2016. 

Acuerdo de paz firme y duradera


Case Study

How Political Dialogue Between Donors and the Government Was Instrumental in the Implementation of the Principles of the Paris Declaration for Aid Support to Mozambique


The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005) and the Accra Agenda for Action (signed in 2008 to support the implementation of the first document) are two key documents aiming to provide guidelines for Aid Effectiveness. They set out a practical, action-orientated roadmap to improve the quality of aid and its impact on development. The documents consist in action-focused guidelines organized around five principles (Ownership, Alignment, Harmonisation, Managing for Results, Mutual Accountability), and require both partner countries and donors to mutually assess their commitment to Aid Effectiveness.

Until the discovery in 2015/2016 of illegally contracted debt by the Mozambican government in charge from 2009-2014, Mozambique provided the international community with a good case study to assess the effectiveness of political dialogue on the delivery of international aid. The country evolved from around 90% of foreign aid dependence in 1992 -when a peace agreement was achieved following 16 years of violent armed conflict- into about 25% in 2016. A fragmented context of aid delivery characterised by duplication, competition, creation of parallel structures, stringent conditionality and burdensome reporting in the 1990s was transformed into one of coordination of international cooperation and mutual donor-national partner accountability.

Entry point 

A framework for mutual accountability existed in the country since 2005, establishing the main coordination principles for international cooperation. In 2010 the government adopted an International Cooperation Policy and its Implementation Strategy. Mutual accountability in this case entailed a regular process of bringing together the civil society, the international community, and state bodies in dialogue and consultation. These interactions occurred within a tiered mechanism comprising, first, sector and thematic groups, second, management groups, and third, political-level exchange. The collaboration was based on the follow-up of an agenda of shared interests, aiming to consolidate the behaviour change required to see significant results.

The donors’ and Mozambique’s aid approaches shifted from project-oriented to sector-specific assistance and general budget support. Budget support activities, such as sectoral support and budget overview were instrumental in maintaining continued dialogue between the parties. It contributed to the implementation of a solid dialogue structure, built on the definition of policy goals and a framework for annual monitoring. A Performance Assessment Framework, defined by a Memorandum of Understanding, acted as the main instrument for monitoring and evaluation between the national government and 19 donors (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Great Britain, Spain, Canada, the WB and the AfDB. The US, Japan and the UN were associate members). The overall implementation of the Paris Declaration on aid assistance to Mozambique was monitored through surveys that took place in 2006 (base-line), 2008 (mid-term) and 2011 (final evaluation). 

Lessons identified

Country-level evaluation as an incentive for good practice – Mozambique  and donors agreed to robust, data driven, country level assessment of progress, which was the basis for political level discussions on what had been achieved and what should be done further. The existence of an agreed strategy between both parties, as well as of aid effectiveness targets and assessments undertaken by both sides, were prerequisites for success.  Evaluation reports showed that participants from the state of Mozambique considered the programme as serious and of high value. This positive appreciation represented a major step towards mutual trust.

Political Dialogue is more efficient on a sector-based approach – In sectors where the partner’s priority matches the donor’s agenda, and where dialogue is strong enough to allow a mutually-defined strategy, funding is more likely to flow according to the Paris Declaration principles. In Mozambique this trend was observed by comparing aid to the health sector, which had been informed by strong ownership and a clear vision, to the agriculture sector where the support funds reduced significantly over time.

To be effective Political Dialogue has to be inclusive of all major aid partners - The BRICS provided a considerable share of aid to Mozambique but were not part of the G-19 and the abovementioned arrangements for aid harmonisation. As a result the policy influence of the donors became even further limited as domestic resource revenue increased.   

Sustainability of positive results requires inclusion of the justice and security sectors into the political dialogue and progress in these areas – The joint reviews generated renewed impetus to implementation of legal and judicial reforms. However, appraisal of progress on justice related reforms was contentious between Mozambique’s government and the donors, due to slow progress in increasing efficiency, transparency, and human rights compliance. The security sector was not part of the framework of thematic and sector exchanges, and therefore was absent from the political dialogue, opening-up to vulnerabilities from a governance standpoint.


Political discussion and dialogue enshrined in the Paris Declaration had become an integral component of the interaction between most Western donors and Mozambique’s government.  Thanks to several awareness-raising initiatives, a number of civil society bodies took part in the dialogue process, and participated actively on discussions around the role of civil society in promoting aid effectiveness. Specific support was provided to civil society by the UN and donors, with the government of Mozambique committed to engage with it more closely.  

The fact that donor resources were channelled through pooled accounts and managed through national systems enabled the government to incorporate most sectoral funding into the national budget, allowing it to better design and implement programmes according to own priorities. In addition, it resulted in greater accountability to the citizens and the Parliament, which gained better visibility and control over budget approval and its implementation. 

A well organised dialogue on policies and results achieved through donor harmonisation has been established through the lessons of the Budget Support. Alignment of the government of Mozambique and Budget Support partners was consequently improved. This has given rise to a well-organized and publicly accessible database of international support provided across sectors (ODAMOZ). The annual review on governance and fight against corruption through the Budget Support dialogue generated some progress in those areas. The mutual accountability framework pioneered in Mozambique has been highlighted as an international reference, for having improved relations between donors and partners. However, despite improvements in public finance management, in multi-stakeholder dialogue and harmonisation of aid, these efforts did not resist a break in trust between donors and the Government upon the discovery of the latter’s hidden loans, allegedly to finance the security sector. Improved national capacity to manage the complex dialogue mechanism, better public finance management monitoring, and a stronger culture of good governance are key to sustainability. 

Selected Resources

Case Study

UNDP Engagement in the Police and Judicial Reform in Mozambique


After becoming independent from Portugal in 1975, Mozambique, led by the Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo), witnessed structural transformation from a colonial state into a modern socialist society. Shortly after, the Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (Renamo) led a 16 year guerrilla war against the government, at the end of which both the armed forces and the insurgents were devastated. In 1990, Mozambique adopted a new constitution that transformed the political system and sowed the seeds of oversight of the security sector. The war ended with the signature of the Rome Peace Agreement in 1992, which went on to be implemented under the supervision of the United Nations Operation for Mozambique (UNOMOZ).

Later on, the Defense and Security Act (17/97) established a basic legal and institutional framework for the military, police, and intelligence services. This was followed by a law on the Defence and Armed Forces (18/97), but for a long time no similar framework was developed to cover the activity of the Police and of the Intelligence. Reforms in internal security took longer to unfold than in the defence sector, and when they did the government took a strong stance in terms of controlling the process. 

Entry Point

At the end of the civil war crime rates increased leading to a negative perception of the Police by the public, which mainly viewed the Polícia da República de Moҫambique  (PRM) as inefficient and corrupt. After the 1994 elections the government signalled the intent to start reforms in the Police, leading a group of international donors into forming the Police Donor Group (PDG) in 1996. The PDG, working through UNDP, proposed a police reform package to the government of Mozambique. UNDP coordinated the project aimed at retraining existing cadres and training a new generation of police officers, including the creation of a new police academy, with a view to transforming the PRM into a more efficient and accountable force. UNDP has also supported the development and implementation of a Strategic Plan for the PRM 2003-2012. Alongside efforts in Police reform UNDP also supported efforts to strengthen the Centre for Legal and Judicial Training (CFJJ), which aimed at training new staff for the judicial sector, as well as broader efforts towards rehabilitation  of court infrastructure and re-organisation of the sector. Importantly, it helped develop an integrated strategic plan for the justice sector, and supported the beginnings of a long process of penal and prison reforms.

Lessons Identified

Neutrality and Impartiality – UNDP acted as an impartial coordinator of the programme, managing reform sensitivities in areas in which the government was opposed to external involvement, and third party actors did not want to engage on a bilateral basis.

Support in the development of security and justice reform tools – the supporting role of UNDP to the government and the international donor community in Mozambique was implemented through the undertaking of needs assessments, facilitation of primary research on the institutions at stake, and generation of analyses and policy recommendations for the reform process. The UNDP approach to police and judicial reform combined the same standards and principles which applied to the rest of the public sector’s unique characteristics, overall ensuring a more sustainable reform process.  This was a first step in addressing a change in these institutions’ cultures.

Provision of common guidance – all judicial institutions which operated under the umbrella of the integrated justice strategic plan stated that even if they were implementing their respective specific institutional plans, overall they still followed general guidance provided by UNDP for the design and the implementation of their annual plans. The common guidance and strengthened interaction around the implementation of the integrated strategic plan generated a more holistic system contributing to an increase of 30% in the resolution of pending cases, according to the 2004 President’s report on the State of Nation.


According to two external evaluations commissioned by UNDP and the Swiss government, after the UNDP project ending police reform in Mozambique still faced problems. The Swiss report highlighted improvements in the police’ protection of human rights, but huge challenges persisted in the ability to tackle corruption, the absence of long-term planning capacity, and the lack of adequate training programmes. In addition, legislative gaps, including the need for legal frameworks regarding police involvement in natural disaster management, and a required change of attitude with respect to domestic violence and HIV-AIDS interventions were identified.

The evaluations on judicial reform also revealed mixed results. In 2005 the President of the Supreme Court stated that in the previous year the courts performed more efficiently and effectively, but that the practice of each institution adopting a strategic plan without coordinating closely with the others created difficulties in the management of the reform process.

Despite external evaluations stressing the need for further reform, the involvement of UNDP stands out as a case of building local trust and political engagement thanks to its neutral stance during the reform process. As a mediator between Mozambique’s government and donors, UNDP was able to provide guidance for police and judicial institutions that otherwise would have been lacking.


Case Study

Bangladesh – Shalish


Although the entire Bangladeshi population holds the right to access justice systems, there is a big gap between theory and practice due to costs, backlogs, and a lack of resources and knowledge by the people seeking out these services. More often than not, even in the case of simple claims, they can get delayed due to formalities and administrative complications. Furthermore, given that formal judicial systems are normally located in urban areas, it is difficult for the majority of the population to have physical access to them given that eight in ten Bangladeshis reside in villages.

Therefore, most of the population turns to informal mechanisms, such as the shalish. Through these sessions disputants can solve their problems quicker, with few to no costs, and in a way where they are able to express themselves freely given their informal nature. Also, by creating a space in which local disputes can be addressed, the shalish system is effective in preventing the escalation of violence of these issues.

Entry point

Shalish sessions consist of influential and well-respected leaders in the community who come together to settle disputes and listen to the actors involved, as well as their families. This community-based mechanism can be invoked to deliberate on a multitude of civil matters, but most commonly on issues about family and gender, such as violence against women, inheritance or divorce, and land ownership. Given that each case is unique and the gravity of the problems addressed varies, there is no set structure or defined size or timing for these gatherings. Also, although the main purpose of the panels is mediation or arbitration, in its most severe form they can assert punishment over individuals which have not agreed to its jurisdiction.

There are three types of shalish sessions(although it is important to note that these often overlap in practice):

  • Traditional shalish – involve the gathering of male village elders and concerned actors to settle community disputes. Even though some of the deliberations are not fair and equitable, they hold significant value because they come from well-known and respected individuals in the community. However, given that they are run only by high-level males, women are susceptible to receive harsh punishments through the issuance of fatwas, or legal rulings issued by recognised religious authorities of Islam. Corruption is common as a way to maintain the spheres of influence over these judiciary systems and perpetuate cultural norms and biases.
  • Government-facilitated shalish – include the participation of the Union Parishad (UP, which is the lowest level of local elected government) as chairs and members leading the sessions and considering the laws meant to regulate the punishments delivered. However, it is widely reported that the structure and dynamics of this kind of shalish are highly similar to the traditional form in the way that local patronage systems affect the decision-making processes, and the rights of women and vulnerable groups are largely ignored. Nevertheless, there is a growing trend in the inclusion of women in UPs.
  • NGO-facilitated shalish – provide gender and social justice training and education to shalish and community members, as well as support the organisation of sessions and introduce record-keeping techniques. The Madaripur Legal Aid Association (MLAA) has been the most significant actor in promoting this framework and advocating for the modification of gender and class biases in these processes, and has also trained various other NGOs in the matter.

Lessons identified

The participation of NGOs in these judiciary systems has proven effective in mitigating corruption and gender and class biases, and to have a positive impact on the performance of these systems. Leaders now feel discouraged from extorting the disputants in order to rule in their favour, and the documentation of all sessions strengthens enforcement mechanisms. Also, if faced with major criminal cases in which the leaders of the shalish are personally involved in, NGOs have been able to intervene and bring in the necessary state judicial forces (e.g. lawyers, police, prosecutors and judges) to make the matter more equitable. Moreover, they encourage the participation of women and disadvantaged communities, whether as shalish panellists or as disputants during sessions.

Furthermore, by providing education to the community about their rights, abuses by members of high-levels of society are avoided. An example of this can be illustrated by the rights of divorced couples. Often times religious leaders would profess that the only way a woman could remarry would be by having sexual relations with another man other than the husband, which would be suggested to be the religious leaders themselves. Due to a combination of all these elements, NGOs are having a positive influence on the gradual sustainability on the improvement of shalish sessions.


Although they can perpetuate poverty and the powerlessness of women and vulnerable groups if executed ineffectively or infiltrated by corruption, shalish sessions do provide communities with free access to justice. Also, given that they are carried out in an informal and familiar manner with the presence of multiple people in society, people are able to express themselves freely because it adds an element of comfort in community members. Settling these disputes locally also has strengthened community solidarity where practiced. Lastly, since the leaders of these sessions are well-respected, they are members of the community and there is participation from all the parties involved in each particular case, the decisions hold more value because people are seen as more accountable by their peers than the formal justice system.

Selected Resources

Case Study

Customary Justice | Zimbabwe – Governance training for traditional leaders


In Zimbabwe, traditional authorities are the custodians of customary law and practice, and represent the crucial interface with the state for most of the population. The social importance of traditional leaders is formally recognised in state law, which empowers chiefs in matters ranging from land disputes to natural resources management and rural family life. The new Zimbabwean Constitution approved in 2013 further reinforces legal pluralism in the country.

In the context of widespread political violence and intimidation in electoral periods in recent years, traditional leaders have been often accused of aligning with and serving the interests of ZANU-PF, in power since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980. Pervasive tensions and violence at the community level lead one NGO, International Rescue Committee (IRC)/Zimbabwe, to initiate a two-year training programme for traditional leaders to remind them of their responsibilities under the law, and the basic standards of professionalism. The project was called Supporting Traditional Leaders and Local Structures to Mitigate Community-level Conflict in Zimbabwe. It was conducted for a period of 24 months between 2012 and 2014, with funding from USAID and carried out in conjunction with the Legal Resources Foundation (LRF).

Entry point

Traditional leaders are strategic agents of change in their communities.  Given the allegations against some traditional leaders, the IRC/LRF project sought to address critical knowledge gaps through a capacity building initiative. The project targeted all leaders at all levels of the traditional chieftaincy system (chiefs, headmen, and village heads) in two rural districts, Mutare and Mutasa, in Manicaland province. Its main objectives were “to prevent violence and to promote positive relationships at the community level, by strengthening traditional leaders’ capacity to perform their role effectively, to make sound decisions, and to resolve conflicts peacefully”.

The activities involved two 3-day training sessions with groups of villages, conducted about three months apart. IRC ran five programs: two groups with village heads only; the other three including community leaders. The sessions were divided into the following six modules: the local government structure in Zimbabwe, leadership and communication, conflict resolution and management, gender and traditional leadership, the district assembly and local leadership and natural resource management. Modules were delivered through lectures, role plays and group discussions.

Lessons identified

The evaluation study, carried out by USAID, focused on two questions: is there a correlation between training and improvements in governance? And are there gains or losses in social peace within the community? The underlying issue is how effective are operations that aim at regulating traditional institutions, as many governments try to do?

Results showed a tangible difference between villages where only the leaders received the training, and villages where other community leaders were part of the trainees. The latter (broader training) was more effective in changing traditional governance in two ways. First, it created an individual within the village who could act as a check on the power of the village head. Second, the community leader was able to inform a larger number of community members of the legal framework governing traditional leaders.

As highlighted by the evaluation study, the main points emphasized by the village heads where extended training was given was that the community leader helped “remind” them of the law, thereby checking their powers, and the community leader effectively disseminated information on the legal framework, especially to groups – such as youth -- over which the village head had limited influence. At the same time, the limits of such activities were also documented on which behavioural measures suggest that traditional leaders didn’t become more consultative or deeply committed to inclusive governance. They “may have become savvier about surrounding themselves with people of similar views, choosing family members and people who do not express critical views to attend meetings.”

The study indicated two things. First, regulation efforts depend on how the regulation is structured; training sessions for village heads by themselves are likely to have little impact, but they have greater impact when other community leaders are involved, since “horizontal pressure” from these and other citizens after the training sessions is necessary for traditional governance to change. In other words, efforts to build the capacity of traditional leaders should also include mechanisms to strengthen accountability. Second, changes in the procedures of traditional institutions may increase inter-group conflict and reduce social trust in communities. Put simply, there may be trade-offs between fostering consultation and maintaining social cohesion.

The study also cautions against a narrow consideration of impact in capacity building projects. Gains in governance transparency imply as well a broader awareness of social tensions and differences in opinions amongst citizens. A careful consideration of power relations within the community, and the potential changes or challenges introduced by capacity building, is needed to avoid creating or exacerbating conflicts. Traditional institutions might become more respectful of good governance, transparency, and consultation, but the inherent policy changes will inevitably create winners and losers in the community.

Selected Resources

Case Study

East Timor – Reconciling formal and customary systems through evidence-based programming


Traditional legal practices in East Timor, usually imbued with ancestral religious beliefs, are inherent to a system in which kinship concepts regulate most aspects of everyday life. Conflict resolution and punishment of crimes are part of this. These even kept their relevance throughout Portuguese colonial rule and Indonesian occupation, actually adapting and taking advantage of the formal laws imposed by both external rulers. “These mechanisms have developed in an environment where no state-bodies prevailed, and are paradigmatically contradictory to modern systems of rule of law”, as highlighted by Tanja Hohe and Rod Nixon (see reference below).

Within the complexity and diversity of Timorese legal systems, customary law is characterized by collective restorative justice and social sanction as means for enforcement. It is also a layered system in which a dispute is first reported to the family, then subsequently to the leaders of the village, hamlet, “suco” (group of villages), finally to the elders in the community, and maybe also to the police (albeit this does not mean that the case will follow a formal judicial route of resolution). The pertinence and legitimacy of customary justice implies that, even when justice is done through the formal institutions, the community still needs and demands that the issue be settled through traditional mechanisms. Support to the justice sector in independent East Timor, starting with the United Nations Transitional Administration in 1999, carries the assumption that the extension of statutory justice will gradually replace traditional mechanisms and reconcile its core values with modern concepts and norms.

Entry point

Justice sector development has been central to state-building and peacebuilding in East Timor but, as the Asia Foundation points out, the citizens have seen little benefit “despite many years and tens of millions of dollars spent on reforming the formal system by supporting the physical and human resource infrastructure for formal court actors”. Whilst progress has been made in recent years on strengthening formal justice, the resilience of local systems challenges common assumptions in justice development and questions the validity of rule of law interventions.

The Asia Foundation, a nonprofit international development organisation, has been conducting periodic assessments of end-users’ perceptions of the impartiality, effectiveness and accessibility of the justice system in East Timor, going beyond the understanding of where people go to address their justice concerns.

Surveys were conducted in 2004, 2008, and 2013 by the Asia Foundation with local partners, providing an important snapshot of perceptions held toward formal and informal justice mechanisms, the police, and security in general. The comparison between formal and informal systems was a vital component of the survey.

The results of the surveys pointed to the need to support other actors under justice reform programmes, and contradicted prevailing perceptions about whom ordinary people call on to seek justice. Moreover, the lessons extracted allow for evidence-based programming in a crucial area, fostering sustainability and ownership of interventions aiming at reconciling customary systems with statutory justice.

Lessons identified

The most important lesson from the three perception surveys undertaken by Asia Foundation is that institutions and systems that have little or no relevance to a people’s way of life are unlikely to be adopted in the short term. In this, the data provides strong evidence backing policy and academic literature – above all, from anthropologists – describing how the state-building enterprise in East Timor ignored the pre-existing and functioning local legal order.

The 2013 survey confirmed that, despite significant progress toward strengthening the formal justice system, “a greater proportion of people in contemporary Timor-Leste are more confident and comfortable with local justice systems.” Attitudes towards women’s access to justice, meanwhile, remained significantly worse than in 2004. Ultimately, despite outreach initiatives since 2008 (the year of the last major political-security crisis), Asia Foundation research shows that the people of Timor-Leste continue to have limited knowledge about the justice system and their legal rights. The data indicates also that concerns about best practice, human rights standards, and equitable treatment for all members of society in such a strictly patriarchal and hierarchical system are not yet adequately addressed.

The Asia Foundation strongly recommends stakeholders in justice development to effectively engage with traditional actors and aligning them with existing obligations under the Constitution and international norms, to ensure quality of care and a ‘do no harm’ approach.

Selected Resources

Case Study

Colombia - Coordination between national and indigenous judicial systems


Colombia is home to over 80 indigenous communities, each with their own dialects and judicial authorities. The year of 1991 represents a landmark for them, since it was the year when a new Constitution was established, in which the diversity of cultures was acknowledged, and their protection was referred to. Various other pieces of legislation have followed that further specify the ways in which indigenous populations have had to be increasingly incorporated into the national system. Especially the 1996 Act No. 270 of the Statute of the Administration of Justice, given that it placed the justices of peace and the jurisdiction of the various indigenous communities within the Judicial Administration structure.

Nonetheless, managing the difference between the rules of the national judicial system and those of the indigenous judicial systems has been a challenge in the absence of a law on coordination (also foreseen by the 1991 Constitution). This challenge places indigenous groups in vulnerable circumstances, especially in those cases where the two jurisdictions clash. A law allowing for the coordination of over 80 indigenous groups, considering their unique differences, whilst being sufficiently operative to settle disputes, proved difficult to obtain. Adding to the complexity is the widespread armed conflict that has been part of the country’s history for the past five decades. National security forces often enter territory without indigenous approval, undertaking operations that sometimes bring the conflict dynamics into these communities.

Entry point

The disparities between the different systems of carrying out justice turned collaboration between the national authorities and the indigenous authorities necessary. Building on the various types of legislation in place to promote the respect and protection of the indigenous populations, in 2004 the Higher Council of the Judiciary, in partnership with the National Indigenous Organisation of Colombia, and the Association of the Indigenous Council in the North of Cauca, developed the programme “Support to the Coordination between the Special Indigenous Jurisdiction and the National Judicial System”. The aim was to foster mutual knowledge of the two systems and the new legislation, and to promote coordination, in order to improve the access of indigenous communities to basic justice services. The programme was co-funded by the Inter-American Development Bank and the Higher Council of the Judiciary, with resources having been provided by the Special Japanese fund.

The programme had five main components:

  1. An intercultural educational training that brought together the justice officials of the national system and those of the indigenous system to learn about each other’s modus operandi, including norms and processes, as well as  to identify needs.
  2. The establishment of a system of data collection to document and report on the different decisions of each jurisdictional body, in order to better understand how the other works. Respect for the customs of each community was respected through establishing voluntary participation in the process of contributing data.
  3. Development of a jurisdiction map covering all judicial systems, the competent authorities, and the services offered.
  4. Consultation of the population at the national level, to assess their opinion about the results and successes obtained, and contributing to the identification of the future financial needs of the programme. 
  5. A national workshop with the participation of the Organization of American States (OAS) to present the results and discuss relevant issues concerning the Special Indigenous Jurisdiction.

Finally, an Advisory Committee for the Programme was created as an accountability mechanism that was in charge of overseeing the accuracy and effectiveness of implementation.

Lessons identified

The main lesson from the Colombian process is that coordination can be enabled in practice, even if legal regulations are absent. The programme “Support to the Coordination between the Special Indigenous Jurisdiction and the National Judicial System” was successful in facilitating mutual system knowledge, and in promoting interaction between actors of the formal and of the indigenous justice systems. It also succeeded - through the consultations – in sensitising other relevant stakeholders such as the security forces and the private business sector towards the need to respect both jurisdictions. The transversal intercultural component of the programme contributed to the creation of a culture of jurisdiction collaboration and coordination previously inexistent. An iconic example of this is a sentence by the Constitutional Court – related to the Vencedor Piriri-Guamito y Matanegra Indigenous Reservation – stipulating that prior consultation of the indigenous authorities is mandatory before private extraction companies enter their territory.

Selected Resources

Case Study

Mainstreaming Gender in the EU Regional Assessment covering the Sahel

ISSAT was mandated by the European Union’s Fiduciary Trust Fund for Africa to design an assessment framework adapted to understand the minimum operating capacities, structures, policies and processes of national security sectors. The countries concerned by this mandate were Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso. The mandate’s objective was to develop the assessment framework and use it in the four contexts, drawing conclusions and recommendations for capacity building support by the European Union and allowing for comparative analysis where possible.

Since the start of the mandate, ISSAT intended to ensure that the approach was in line with the European Commission’s strategic engagement for Gender Equality 2016-2019. This was clearly reflected in the mandate’s Terms of Reference and integrated into the mandate’s design and implementation phases.

The mandate looked at four main aspects of security and justice sector institutions: human resources management, means, equipment and structures and shared values. The ISSAT team looked at representation levels of women and men across all security and justice institutions including women’s participation in decision-making processes, where data was available. The report submitted to the Commission included explicit recommendations related to identifying local strategies that were likely to increase advancement and recruitment of women. The analysis paid particular attention to the role of the informal non-state sector which seemed to in most contexts include higher participation by women as actors and beneficiaries.

The diversity of the population’s needs was equally taken into account through community perception surveys. The questionnaires’ design allowed sex-disaggregated data and both women and men equally participated in this process. The analysis of the surveys’ results was informed by the gender of the respondent allowing for valuable insights to be generated related to the security sector’s legitimacy and credibility levels.  The final reports’ dissemination should help highlight the distinct impact of EUTF projects for men, women, boys and girls.

Proposed takeaways:

  1. It is critically important to look holistically at security and justice sectors to identify the actors (which could be informal, non-state, ad hoc or parallel structures) where women or certain socio-cultural groups tend be better represented, and their needs better addressed.
  2. Increasing representation of a certain gender or socio-cultural group in security and justice institutions can only be done through local strategies, with community based organisations acing as a bridge between the community’s needs and the institutions’ realities.
  3. Looking at recruitment strategies, won’t reflect the real systemic gaps that might be hindering women from accessing the formal institutional frameworks. The need to look at capital versus regional recruitment, entry exams, training, retention and family friendly policies, and common institutional values is of key importance.
  4. Including a gender dimension to perception surveys is not enough. The analysis of the results needs to be informed by that dimension and active attention should be given to result variation with respect to gender and/or socio-cultural identities inorder to inform conclusions and recommendations adequately.
Case Study

Mainstreaming Gender in the framework of SDC’s Citizen Security Programme in Honduras (Swiss Mandate)

The Swiss Development Cooperation’s (SDC) Citizen Security programme in Honduras, in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), supported the implementation of the Government Policy on Comprehensive Civic Coexistence and Public Safety from 2013 to 2018. DCAF-ISSAT and Swedepeace partnered as the Swiss JSSR Team to provide technical backstopping support1 to SDC and their partners during this period with a focus on supporting the police reform process.

As part of the police reform process, the National Police are driving forward a doctrinal shift towards a comprehensive community policing strategy that, amongst other goals, seeks to strengthen cooperation with government agencies including those working on gender equality and protection of vulnerable groups, and to reform the police education system which is considered to be military in culture.

The methodology designed by the Swiss JSSR Team to support SDC and partners, the Secretary for Security (SEDS), was adjusted in accordance with expressed needs over time. This resulted in a heavy focus on strategic change management of the police applying tools consistent with a conflict-sensitive programme management (CSPM) approach. 

However, it was only in the later phases of the backstopping that the Swiss JSSR Team was able to effectively exploit a key entry point for gender equality promotion. When supporting the SEDS Strategic Planning Unit (SPU) theory of change (ToC) design for the implementation of their national strategy, the Swiss JSSR Team was able to steer the ToC Working Group towards alignment with national policies on gender equality.

Key to this was the vocal support of the Head of the SPU who would also become a key ally and cornerstone of the proposed ToC (see video link). The subsequent missions were able to build on this momentum by actively seeking more gender equality entry points as part of the monitoring of the SDC support programme results framework, which was a central component of the backstopping. Other factors that enabled the Swiss JSSR Team to promote gender equality in the backstopping was the incorporation of a national expert, who brought valuable experience working with women’s organisations, and an ISSAT SSR Officer specialising in human rights-based approaches (HRBA).

During one backstopping mission in 2017, workshops with the SDC were conducted in Tegucigalpa to specifically identify HRBA and gender equality entry points in their new police reform support programme. Working through a conflict-sensitive scenario analysis it was recommended that the new programme should seek the development of internal policies that would strengthen system-wide internal complaints mechanisms. Such policies should include those specifically for addressing gender quality and sexual harassment, in contrast to another proposal to support the creation of a gender unit in the police basic training college which would be expected to respond to complaints in the backdrop of a system lacking supporting policies. A parallel recommendation included the promotion of a female police officer’s association, which would aim to influence internal policy on gender equality. This recommendation was inspired by the female police officer’s Association created in Ecuador in 2017. However, after consulting with the national counterpart, it was decided the timing was not appropriate citing a fear of stigmatisation or backlash against officers championing such a proposal.

In this context, the methodology’s conflict-sensitive approach, such as using the scenario analysis tool, enabled the backstopping to gain a greater appreciation of the challenges that female and male gender champions in police institutions are facing, as well as a deeper understanding of the conditions necessary for institutional change towards gender equality. This information would later influence the gender equality strategy contemplated for the 2018-2022 SDC programme of support to the government of Honduras.

Takeaways from 2017 backstopping:

  1. Consistent messaging backing gender equality from the senior SEDS SPU police manager was the catalyst for steering discussions during the ToC workshops in a direction that allowed the Working Group to identify gender equality entry points for inter-institutional synergies.
  2. The focus on strategic change management in the backstopping methodology enabled the close interaction with SEDS police managers that was needed to effectively support them to incorporate elements of the national gender equality policy, as outcomes, in the proposed national police strategy ToC.
  3. The Swiss JSSR Team national expert’s previous experience working with women’s organisations on the topic of security played an important role in understanding the challenges that police institutions face when promoting gender equality. Consultations with the National Police Gender Unit also benefited as did the overall quality of conflict sensitivity analysis in backstopping methodology.


  1. Include in the backstopping team local relevant expertise when advising justice and security sector partners towards greater compliance with gender equality principles. This means incorporating gender equality into the methodology from the design, including when planning for a conflict-sensitive approach.
  2. When applying a ToC framework to similar backstopping support, HRBA and gender equality principles need to be framed as solutions to insecurity rather than adherence to an obligatory institutional check list process. This narrative should also influence the conflict-sensitive approach.
  3. Consultations with national counterparts should be continuous in the backstopping methodology to ensure the promotion of gender equality is informed and driven by the beneficiaries but also to ensure that no harm is done in the process.

1 Specifically, the Swiss JSSR Team engaged the SDC and partners in strategic change management of the police, strengthening civil society participation and influence, providing technical advice and support to SDC and counterparts, including JSSR thematic training, and introducing tools for conflict sensitivity, political dialogue, stakeholder analysis, scenario analysis and theory of change (ToC). 

Case Study

Mainstreaming Gender in the framework of the Juvenile Justice System Baseline Study in Albania (Swedish Mandate)

At the request of the Government of Sweden, ISSAT supported a baseline study of the juvenile justice system in Albania linked to the recently launched Swedish Juvenile Justice programme in Albania. The aim of the study was to provide a snapshot of the current juvenile justice system against which the programme could measure progress over time.

The approach, comprised of a desk review and field deployment. It aimed to analyse the existing strengths and weaknesses of the legal framework, structures, capacity, and coordination systems governing the juvenile justice system. The assessment used a problem-solving approach: first identifying the needs and then understanding the institutional factors that drive the juvenile justice needs in Albania. The methodology incorporated a 3+2 model that assessed capacity, procedures and tools dedicated to juvenile justice cases using three internal factors (management, accountability and capacity) and two external factors (inter-institutional relations and institutional ability to implement mandate). Based on available sex-disaggregated data, the assessment generated several insights on gender-balanced representation and inclusiveness within the target institutions.

From the onset, the methodology envisioned the participation of women police officers, judges and prosecutors in the data-collection process to broaden the perspectives of the juvenile justice system (40% of practitioners interviewed during the mission were women). The ISSAT team also counted on the support of local women justice experts to help in analysing the differential needs, access, participation, resources and impact on boy and girls in the Albanian juvenile justice system.

Key takeaways:

  • The mission team’s active seeking of different perspectives from the national actors allowed for a stronger social-cultural understanding behind the obstacles impacting access to services. For example, the team identified when girls in conflict with the law reach the age of juvenile criminal responsibility, social-cultural norms tend to influence the decision of police to divert the justice system and send the girls back to their families.  Currently, girls account for less than 1% of the overall number of cases reported by the police. Their absence from the juvenile justice system indicates a problem in the reporting of cases when girls are in conflict with law but also equates to marginalisation from any judicial rehabilitation programmes.
  • The 3+2 model was useful in identifying gaps in victim-centered services significantly impacting one sex over another. For example, in spite of established procedures prescribing the interventions of psychologists, their actual role in the process remains poorly defined and incoherent, contributing to largely passive and observer roles with limited engagement to protect the juvenile. There is no active information sharing between the different psychologists involved limiting the ability to monitor the extent to which the juvenile is traumatized by the process nor to develop more robust psychological assessments over time. The disproportionate representation of boys in the system implies their greater vulnerability to this potential psychological harm.
  • Although all juveniles in detention or pre-Trial detention have access to vocational training programmes, the relevance of the training (including carpentry, welding, electrician certification and plumbing) can be questioned. In particular, concern was raised by the low participation rates and the relevance of vocational training activities with the interests of the juveniles in general and girls in particular. In the future, the reliance of vocational training activities on manual labour or the physical strength of the juveniles could be a factor discouraging officers to process the girls through the system.
  • The 3+2 model helped to identify accountability gaps in the overall system. Monitoring and statistics on performance of institutions remains weak. There is a high degree of discrepancy between even basic statistics on number of cases reported between the institutions. This lack of basic data impairs the ability to devise informed strategies for boys and girls in conflict with the law
  • The methodology applied enabled the team to identify a gender imbalance in the participation and access to juvenile justice system as a result of numerous intra-and interinstitutional disarticulations. This is reflected by the general lack of understanding of what information should be collected (and by whom) related to the background and circumstance of the juvenile and the very limited data sharing between the institutions, particularly gender-focused data. Moreover, it is common to find that all institutions interview the juvenile to collect the same information without taking into account the different needs of boys and girls. Case file information transferred from prosecutors to probation is usually very basic with no information provided on background or circumstance.


  • As a means of promoting greater individualization of sentencing as well as alternate sanctions for boys and girls, probation service will need to produce pre-sentencing reports with a greater gender equality focus for all cases of juveniles in conflict with the law. Methodologies should be developed utilizing sex-disaggregated information with subsequent guidance influenced accordingly within institutions and coherently between institutions.
  • There is little awareness or even understanding of how diversion should work in practice. While diversion is frequently, albeit informally, used by police for cases related to girls there is currently no vision or clarity on what cases would be eligible or should qualify for prosecution or court referred diversion (eg. mediation). There is an opportunity to share experiences as well as provide awareness on diversion measures (including restorative justice) that are more gender inclusive while gradually helping the institutions to develop a vision or even system of diversion that could clarify what steps/measures would be taken in practice and what pre-conditions/circumstance diversion measures should be applied.
Case Study

Gender Mainstreaming Case Example: ISSAT Evaluation of the UNDP Rule of Law Programme in Colombia

In 2018, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Rule of Law, Justice, Security and Human Rights Unit requested ISSAT’s support to conduct an evaluation of their Colombia Country Programme on Rule of Law and Human Rights for Sustaining Peace and Fostering Development. The objectives of ISSAT’s evaluation were threefold:

  1. To analyse and understand the extent to which Global Program efforts improved Country Program implementation of RoL projects,
  2. To assess the extent to which RoL was integrated into the Country Program, and
  3. To build evidence for a flexible guide for developing good practice monitoring.

ISSAT’s methodological approach explicitly focused on identifying the strategic rationale and effects achieved by the UNDP. This focus on outcomes was specifically designed to identify and evaluate how the program was able to contribute to concrete changes in security and justice conditions. This included documenting the extent to which gender equality was mainstreamed into the RoL interventions supported by UNDP. The information gathered was structured according to the OECD-DAC evaluation criteria with specific emphasis placed on the core areas of Relevance, Effectiveness/Impact, Efficiency and Sustainability. The evaluation found UNDP’s will to systematically promote gender equality, the allocation of resources to improving technical and strategic capacity to be highly effective in fulfilling its institutional commitment to promote gender equality. Activities that support this finding are two Gender Equality Seal processes that the country office went through, appointment of a national expert at the strategic planning level, appointing several gender focal points to ensure a wide institutional reach and development of a gender strategic plan and a corresponding action plan.

Gender equality and empowering women was included as a crosscutting issue in the inception report and evaluation methodology that ISSAT submitted to UNDP/Colombia. To understand the extent to which gender equality has been mainstreamed, the evaluation drew inspiration from UN Sustainable Development Goal 5, the OECD’s Gender Equality Policy Marker (GEPM), and the “Women, Peace and Security” framework. In order to reconcile these frameworks for evaluation purposes, the methodology sought specific information on UNDP’s efforts towards:

  1. Gender parity: the representation of women and girls for their meaningful participation in the targeted programme or intervention. The evaluation reported increased gender parity in UNDP supported projects.
  2. Gender equality: equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys. The evaluation has found that the UNDP’s added value is recognised by partners in promoting gender equality.
  3. Gender mainstreaming: the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action. The appointment of a national expert and several gender focal points point out to concrete steps in the implementation of the gender strategic plan. 

Main Takeaways

In recent years, UNDP Colombia has invested significantly in their internal capacity to assist national partners in promoting gender equality in the application of RoL. This includes UNDP Colombia undergoing two Gender Equality Seal processes. The UNDP Gender Equality Seal Programme is aimed at closing persistent gender gaps in the workplace where UNDP provides government partners with tools, guidance and specific assessment criteria to ensure successful implementation and certification. 

In addition, UNDP Colombia has appointed a national expert to advice at the strategic planning level and has appointed several gender focal points to ensure a wide institutional reach. The expert team led a revision of the gender equality portfolio and captured the gender mainstreaming of the country office in practice.

Last but not least, UNDP Colombia has developed its gender strategic plan through a consultation process with women’s civil society networks and a corresponding action plan. As a result, the information available for the evaluation enabled for a quality baseline from which to triangulate information using the methodology proposed. Normally, such information is challenging to obtain in both quality and quantity.

ISSAT had incorporated gender parity, equality and mainstreaming as a cross cutting issue in its evaluation methodology from the start. A systematic approach was used during the desk-review phase as well as in the design of the semi-structured questionnaires and group discussions conducted during the field-research phase. It was also duly taken into consideration when identifying the interviewees and participants in the group-discussions.

To have a member of the evaluation team with the pertinent knowledge, expertise and commitment to this methodological approach was a key factor for the consistency in the application of the gender methodology and analysis. It also worked as a catalyst of the knowledge and experience of the other team members.


  • The adoption of non-discrimination as a norm, as done by UNDP, can contribute to the inclusion of vulnerable groups including ethnic minorities, women and children in defining programme objectives and priorities, thereby leading to improved gender equality through behavioural change in both the implementing institution and target audience.
  • Using a Human Rights Based and gender sensitive lens for evaluations can increase commitment and concrete actions to facilitate the implementation of human rights and gender equality standards.
  • Outcome-level reporting which also includes the collection and presentation of gender disaggregated data can demonstrate trends and gaps in achieving gender equality and lead to a better analysis of needs which in turn could improve gender sensitive programming.
  • The inclusion of gender parity, equality and mainstreaming as a cross cutting issues should be systematised across all evaluations and added to the methodology - in order to ensure gender aspects are evaluated in a holistic manner and that their linkages to other programme objectives are systematically established.
  • Including a gender expert as a team member was of significant value. It not only ensured the inclusion of a gender dimension throughout the mandate, but also succeeded in enhancing the focus on and awareness of gender issues among both team members, the mandating organisation and national counterparts who were engaged in the mandate.

Case study published in July 2019. 

Case Study


SSR Emerging Issues, Trends and Innovations

Much of the knowledge base underpinning SSR practice is fragmented, localized to individual donors, SSR practitioners or even programmes. In the absence of a robust evidence base and investment in global learning and monitoring platforms for SSR, much of what is known about SSR is based on anecdotal evidence or remains scattered through various evaluations or reports that are inconsistently shared in the public domain. This tool is a unique attempt to synthesize, document and collate some of the existing knowledge base on SSR that otherwise would remain in various reports or conference papers. The tool draws information from various ISSAT supported evaluations, assessments, and advocacy events but also reports, finding and lessons identified from the wider SSR practitioner community. 

To take advantage of ISSAT's unique position, working intimately with a large number of the leading actors in the field of SSR, significant effort is made in gathering and synthesizing emerging issues and trends in SSR. This is done to better understand how SSR is evolving and where emerging gaps in practice or effectiveness are forming. As part of this process the ISSAT methodology cell, a group of staff tasked with developing ISSAT methodology, has focused on streamlining lesson learning throughout ISSAT support activities. ISSAT has institutionalised processes whereby all ISSAT advisory field support, training and advocacy and outreach activities feed into a centralised mapping of the various challenges/trends, emerging issues, and innovations. This includes issues found at the guidance and policy level, the way development partners are supporting SSR, or the common issues found in national SSR processes. The gathered knowledge is progressively synthesized and analyzed by the methodology cell to identify common issues and trends. The analysis is progressively documented and tracked through this database of trends, issues and challenges. 

There are 4 sections to the trends, challenges and issues database.

Part I: Policy, Concept and Approach to SSR

Part II: Project Design and Formulation

Part III: Project Implementation

Part IV: Monitoring and Evaluation


General Categories of Criminal Justice Actors

This tool lists a variety of actors to consider in the following areas of the criminal justice chain:

  • police and other law enforcement actors
  • Justice
  • Corrections

Prompts for non-state actors and oversight mechanisms are also included.


Was ist Sicherheit?

German info

Diese A3 Infografik gibt einen einführenden Überblick über die Reform des Sicherheitssektors (SSR). Sie stellt die Eigenschaften der SSR und ihrer verschiedenen operationellen Phasen dar und bietet eine detaillierte Beschreibung des „Fähigkeits-, Integritäts- und Nachhaltigkeitsrahmenwerks“. Zudem erläutert sie den Ansatz der „Einschätzung des Endergerbnisses“.

Dieses Dokument ist auch auf Englisch und Französisch verfügbar.


Top 10 Tips Series


This Top Ten Tips Series gathers ISSAT’s tips on working in Security Sector Reform (SSR) and advice for increasing efficiency. Focusing on the aspects that have worked in practice and helped advance projects and relying on first-hand experience, each piece in the series seeks to help SSR practitioners in a particular aspect of their work. 

  1. How to be a good SSR advisor when working with national actors:  Gordon Hughes gives advice on how to get started and address the challenges of planning transformation in politically and culturally sensitive contexts.
  2. Ten tips for tackling corruption:  looks at frequent issues associated with corruption.
  3. How to think about corruption when working with national and local actors:  Nicholas Seymour and Transparency International, gives further tips to tackle corruption, with an important starting point: discuss potential solutions.
  4. Ten tips for police internal oversight:  Antoine Hanin and proposes some avenues to help establish internal oversight mechanisms.
  5. Ten tips to improve international donor coordination, for SSR donor personnel in the field:  Janine Rauch gives key elements to manage coordination in SSR, from active participation in meetings to adequate use of the local media, among others.
  6. Ten tips on criminal justice system development:  Piet Biesheuvel stresses the complex nature of Criminal Justice Systems (CJS) and the importance of looking at all its components.
  7. Ten theory of change (ToC) tips for SSR:  Kai Schäfer develops the concept and explains how to adequately use it in SSR processes.
  8. Ten tips for increasing political engagement: Thammy Evans discusses how to incentivise political will in SSR.
  9. Ten tips for sustainable SSR programming:  Alwin van den Boogaard argues that some key criteria apply to achieve sustainability in SSR. 

10 Lessons learned from Ireland's support to Justice and Security Sector Reform efforts

This paper is adapted from a presentation by Donal Cronin, Ambassador of Ireland to Uganda that took place at the Conflict Resolution Unit, at Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Dublin, on 5 May 2015. It presents 10 key lessons captured from Ireland’s efforts of supporting Justice and Security Sector Reform. The paper highlights the need to undertake better political-economy analysis as part of SSR programming and to focus on the protection and participation of women and girls. The paper also recognises that fragility is not bound by national borders and therefore calls for more regional approaches to tackle security and justice challenges.


Effects Estimate

The Effects Estimate provides a framework for:

• Understanding the contemporary operating environment;
• Estimating second and third order effects;
• Managing risk;
• Warning of the need for actions-on unintended consequences;
• Implementing measures of effect;
• Improving the overall effect and ‘stickiness’ of a project.

This Estimate is especially suitable at project level, and can be carried out as a quick, or more in depth, analysis. With use of subject matter experts and regional or local area knowledge, the Effects Estimate does not need to take a lot of time. As with any analytical process, the resulting analysis is dependent on the quality of the data input to the process.

There are six basic steps:

  1. Define the project
  2. List negatives within the implementing community
  3. List positives within the implementing community
  4. Refine the project to enhance positives and diminish negatives
  5. Manage risks
  6. Build and monitor measures of effect

For a full description download the pdf.

The Effects Estimate has its origins in mainstream development work on conflict sensitivity and Do No Harm. It is adapted to apply across the security sector, including military and police reform / assistance projects, and combines important elements in risk management and evaluation / assessment of effect.


The Community-Based Approach to Criminal-Justice Assessments - the full guide in pdf

This operational guidance note (OGN) provides advice on how to conduct a community-based assessment (CBA) of the criminal justice system under real-world constraints. An assessment is a process of gathering and analysing information on needs to inform decision-making on programming. The criminal justice system refers to the practices and institutions directed at preventing crime, sanctioning those who commit crimes, making efforts to rehabilitate them, and providing reparations to the victims.

In the criminal justice field, assessments often start with the defects of criminal justice institutions such as the police, the courts or the prisons. Such an actor-focused assessment looks for the reasons why the institutions are ineffective or inefficient in what they do. But it does not ask whether these institutions actually do what they should do. Programming developed on the basis of an actor-focused assessment will address certain institutional defects but may miss out on the problems and needs of communities. Programming on this basis helps institutions to do things right but not necessarily to do the right things.

A CBA, on the other hand, starts with identifying the criminal justice needs of communities, then asks what institutions should but do not do to respond to these needs, and finally looks for the reasons that account for why these institutions do not deliver services to meet the needs. Such an approach grounds programme decisions in the needs of communities, links needs with institutions, and ensures a service orientation for criminal justice activities. Programming on this basis helps institutions to do the right things right.

Assessments are usually more complex than anticipated, especially in fragile and post-conflict contexts. Assessments are politically sensitive, time consuming and resource intensive (for general guidance on how to plan and conduct assessments see the ISSAT OGN series on security and justice assessments). Moreover, the assessment team often has to operate under serious time and resource constraints. This CBA tool aims to provide easy methods on how to conduct quality assessments under such real-world constraints. One technique used in this tool is mapping, which is a process of gathering just thebasic facts on the objects of interest, for instance on all criminal justice actors. Mapping is broad and complete but not deep and not detailed. A good mapping process produces a complete inventory and provides a bird’s-eye overview of all objects of interest.

The CBA consists of five stages: mapping needs, mapping actors, linking needs with actors, identifying the institutional causes that account for why the needs are not met, and analysing the CBA findings. This OGN describes step by step the five CBA stages and provides tools and templates to facilitate the CBA process.


Primer nivel de formación en reforma del sector seguridad


La RSS en una palabra: manual introductorio para la formación en reforma del sector de seguridad

Este manual complementa el curso introductorio de primer nivel de formación en reforma del sector seguridad desarrollado por el ISSAT. Su objetivo es proporcionar una descripción general de la política y de la práctica de la reforma del sector de seguridad (RSS) basada en la experiencia colectiva del apoyo a los esfuerzos de reforma de la seguridad y de la justicia. El manual cubre cuatro pilares clave de la RSS:

Sección uno: el concepto de RSS.

Esta sección trata sobre la RSS como concepto, explica su evolución y sus fundamentos teóricos, y proporciona definiciones de términos clave. También pone de relieve algunas características de la RSS.

Sección dos: los principales actores de la seguridad y de la justicia.

Esta sección identifica a los principales actores de la seguridad y de la justicia tanto a nivel nacional como internacional, y procede a discutir la coordinación entre estos actores cuando participan en la RSS.

Sección tres: la programación de la RSS.

Esta sección explica las diferentes etapas del ciclo de programa de la RSS, y atiende varios desafíos tanto políticos como técnicos que podrían surgir al participar en la programación de la RSS.

Sección cuatro: cuestiones transversales.

Esta sección examina importantes aspectos temáticos y prácticos de la RSS de los que a menudo se hace caso omiso, incluyendo las cuestiones de género, los derechos humanos y la gestión de programas. También se analizan cuestiones estrechamente relacionadas con la RSS, como desarme, desmovilización y reintegración (DDR), las armas pequeñas y las armas ligeras (APAL), y la justicia transicional (JT).

Este manual proporciona una visión general de los antecedentes teóricos y conocimientos prácticos claves necesarios para desenvolverse en la programación de la RSS, estableciendo los principios más importantes pero también destacando diversos problemas que podrían surgir al participar en la RSS. Este manual será una referencia útil para aquellos que han completado el curso introductorio de primer nivel del ISSAT, así como para aquellos que participan en la política y en la programación de la RSS por primera vez.

La RSS esta disponible también en inglésfrancés y árabe.


Conducting Lesson Identification for Justice and Security Reform Programmes

Collection of evidence of good practice, and presenting key lessons in a way that encourages their use, is an important process for justice and security sector reform. The first phase of learning lessons is to ensure that you collect the evidence supporting the identified good practice using a rigorous and structured process. ISSAT Knowledge Services has put together a comprehensive tool which identifies practical methodological steps to collect the relevant evidence and conduct a lesson identification exercise. 


What is Security?


This A3 Infographic gives an introductory overview of security sector reform (SSR). It presents the characteristics of SSR, and the different operational phases of SSR, with a detailed description of the "Capacity, Integrity and Sustainability (CIS) Framework" and the Effects Estimate tools.

This document is also available in German and French.


Top 10 Programming Tools for Security and Justice Sector Reform

Screenshot 10

This collection contains 10 commonly used tools for Security and Justice Sector Reform Programming as well as additional online resources. Download the PDF document below to read more on each tool. 


  • Political, Economic, Social, Technical, Legal, Environmental and Security (PESTLES) Analysis
  • Results -Based Management (RBM)
  • Stakeholder Analysis
  • Power/Interest Matrix
  • Conflict Mapping
  • Capacity, Integrity and Sustainability Framework
  • Effects Estimate
  • Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) Analysis
  • Organisation Mapping
  • Gap Analysis

Migration and Justice & Security Reform Infographic

This ISSAT infographic visually underscores the distinction between refugees, forced displacement and migration, with an emphasis on the scale of these migratory flows. It also draws attention to the existing policy frameworks and lists a selection of good practice examples on Justice and Security responses to forced displacement and migration. 

The last decade has seen a significant rise in the global refugee flows, mainly as a result of intra-state conflicts. This increase has a global impact. Although the majority of migration flows is from South to South, the recent refugee flow into Europe received high attention in the media and the international community. The public discourse crafted by the media portrayed a false notion of "migrant invasion" that is not supported by data on migration. 

With this infographic and other associated tools, DCAF-ISSAT aims to keeps abreast with developments in the migration and forced displacement discourse. Visit our Thematics in Practice page on Migration and JSSR to access other Knowledge Products, resources, good practice examples and challenges for the international community. 


What is Governance?

Governance infographic

This infographic provides an overview of Governance, from a map of the concept in relation to Justice and Security Sector Reform to entry points and leverage for governance. The document provides a visual representation of good governance and a detailed presentation of the essential interlocking elements that provide checks and balances with their respective definitions. The infographic includes additional resources on governance in the security sector, on performance indicators and measures of effect, and on related topics.

The infographic is best printed on A3 size. You can download it, print it out and fold along the dotted lines - this will provide you with an easy to share, A5-size document.



African Union assistance in Security Sector Reform

In this short 3 minute clip, Dr Tarek Sharif, Head of the Defence and Security Division of the Peace and Security department of the African Union, talks about the role the AU plays in assisting its members to carry our reform of their security sectors.


Bringing Women into the Security Sector Reform Process in Somalia

Considering the role of women in SSR in post-conflict Somalia: An interview with Hanan Ibrahim, CSO Representative for the African Initiative for Women. 


The security sector in Southeast Asia - Dr Carolina Hernandez

Dr Carolina Hernanedez of the Institute for Security and Defence Studies in the Philippines talks about how she sees the security sector of Southeast Asia and its development.

The audio version of this video is available here


Mallika Joseph

Dr Mallika Joseph, Deputy Director, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies

Mallika shares her experience working on SSR issues in South Asia.


The Political Dynamics of SSR - Bgen (ret) Bernard Belondrade Interview

In this video interview Bgen(ret), Bernard Belondrade, talks about the political dynamics of SSR processes between decision-making and implementation bodies. Senior ISSAT SSR Advisor lays out the complexities of interactions between security forces and political authorities when it comes to Security Sector Reform.


Panel Discussion - SSR in West Africa - Brigadier General (ret) Kellie Conteh - 2010-12-01

Brigadier General (ret'd) Kellie Conteh from Sierra Leone,  Head of the Office of National Security Sierra Leone since 2002, talks about SSR in Sierra Leone, which is often seen as a success story for SSR. Specifically:

  1. Sierra Leone's historical setting - how it came to realise that it need SSR after 11 years of conflict
  2. what Sierra Leone was looking for to reform the security sector
  3. strategies developped by Sierra Leone to tackle reform.

The audio-only version of this video is available here.


SSR Politics in Training - Interview Bgen(ret) Bernard Belondrade

What are the "politics of SSR" and how could these dynamics be managed? Bgen(ret) Bernard Belondrade shares with ISSAT Community members the experience of a training workshop where this aspect was predominant in how the trainees reacted to the knowledge shared with them.


Lessons from Iraq: Building an Inclusive Armed Forces and Engaging Informal Actors

Interview with Walter Slocombe, Senior Advisor for Security and Defence to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad (2003). Mr Slocombe is also a former US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.


Case Study: Ferdinand von Habsburg-Lothringen

In this eight minute abridged video, Ferdinand von Habsburg-Lothringen, a former strategic advisor to the United Nations Development Programme in South Sudan, shares his experiences on the dilemmas encountered in assessing existing capacity and identifying gaps when implementing Security Sector Reform in South Sudan. He discusses the process and challenges of implementing SSR strategies in a newly formed state and provides advice to those going out to the demanding and delicate role of advising. The full video of this interview can be found here.


Addressing Short and Long-term Security Issues in South Sudan

In light of the internal conflict which erupted in South Sudan in December 2013, this video interview with UNMISS SRSG Hilde Johnson, which was conducted over a year earlier, still highlights some of the challenges facing stability in South Sudan. SRSG Johnson discusses some of the long and short-term challenges, and some of the mechanisms being used to carry out disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR).


Insights and lessons into long-term SSR programming - Part 1

Stephen Jackson, the Chief of Staff of the UN Office in Burundi, provides insight into following topics of interest in SSR programming:

  • perverse incentives in DDR programming
  • the principle of Do No Harm in peacedeals and ceasefires
  • bridging the capacity gap
  • the need to incentivise a national security strategy process
  • the sustainability of SSR and the need for a long-term vision

See Part 2 of this interview.

Here are a few quotes from the interview

the best form of hygiene is sunlight [re budgetary transparency]

It takes a full generation to move an institution up one notch in institutional strength. It's not to take Afghanistan and turn it tomorrow into Switzerland but to take Afghanistan and maybe get it to be Nigeria - that takes a generation...

We over-estimate dependency a great deal - absence of institutional strength and financial strength are two related problems which aren't going to be addressed in the first 25 years...

Maybe the problem isn't handing [an SSR programme] over too late, it's having too short a vision.


The Economic Links Between Security Sector Reform and Development

Interview with Gabriel Negatu, Regional Director at the East Africa Resource Centre at the African Development Bank (AfDB). Mr Negatu looks at the overlap between economic development good security and the need for economic prospects for effective reintegration of former combatants or returning refugees.

"DDR is easier said than done... "The two D's are much easier than the last R."


Empowerment for Progress - civil society engagement in SSR

Edmond Yakani, coordinator of the Empowerment for Progress in South Sudan, discusses the role of civil society in security sector reform. He shares experience from interacting with members of the security sector, executive and legislature. He discusses how to effectively manage these relationships and dynamics of reform. He also provides insight into how civil society in South Sudan handles gender in the security sector by capitalizing on quality rather than quantity.  


Sustainability versus dependency

Ferdinand von Habsburg-Lothringen, a former strategic advisor to the UNDP, shares his experiences implementing security sector reform in South Sudan. He discusses the process and challenges of implementing SSR strategies in a newly formed state and provides advice to those going out to the demanding and delicate role of advising.

Questions asked during the interview: 

1. How can sustainability be ensured without creating dependency?

2. Have you ever been asked to do the work instead of providing support?

3. Have you ever come across cases of corruption and how do you deal with them?

4. What top tips would you give to a new advisor in charge of designing a capacity development plan?

Part 1 of this interview discusses identifying capacity and dealing with trauma.


Insights and lessons into long-term SSR programming - Part 2

View Part 1 of this interview.

Stephen Jackson, the Chief of Staff of the UN Office in Burundi, provides insight into following topics of interest in SSR programming:

  • maintaining enthusiasm for SSR 
  • resuscitating SSR enthusiasm 
  • coordination and the success of SSR
  • the role of gender in SSR
  • advice for SSR advisers

"Where SSR has moved forward at some kind of a pace, it's usually been in a context where a single lead partner was prepared to take on a very central role and assume the risk that goes with that." Stephen Jackson


Identifying capacity, dealing with trauma

Ferdinand von Habsburg, strategic advisor to the UNDP, shares some of his experiences as an advisor on security sector reform in South Sudan. He addresses aspects an advisor must consider when assessing existing capacity, identifying gaps, and designing a capacity development plan as well as ensuring buy-in. He touches also upon the effects that post-traumatic stress disorder can play in affecting capacity.

Questions asked during the interview:

1. What aspects would an adviser have to think about when designing a capacity development plan?

2. How can buy-in be ensured for an SSR programme?

Part 2 of the interview is looks at sustainability versus dependency.


The challenges of security sector reform in Somalia.

The former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Hussein Arab Isse, talks about the challenges of reforming the security sector in Somalia, including the need for greater inclusion of women in the process. Interview conducted 3 October 2012.


Meeting the challenges of advising on SSR

Interview and insights from Eirin Mobekk, Chief Security Sector Reform Section at UNMISS at the time of this interview. She is author of several articles and books, including 'Security Sector Reform and the Challenges of Ownership', in The Future of Security Sector Reform edited by Mark Sedra. 

 Areas of the interview include:

  • typical challenges faced by an SSR adviser
  • coordinating in the face of resistance
  • balancing short-term results with long-term goals
  • helping communities understand the value of SSR
  • the importance of local ownership

Whether it's a strategy, a policy, anything like that, or more basic lower level training etc, etc, without local ownership it's not going to work. Ever.


Gender in SSR

Stephen Jackson, Chief of Staff at the UN Office in Burundi, discusses the role gender plays in SSR and considers why a gender component is not a standard part of all SSR programmes.


"Gender often falls low down the list in terms of outcomes in a security sector reform process..... it's not as if that agenda is enormously well advanced in a lot of the partners countries, let's be honest." Stephen Jackson


Trends, Setbacks and Sustainability of International Community Support to SSR

This 11-minute video-interview with Wally Vrey, Regional Coordinator for DDR, Southern Sudan at the United Nations in Sudan, considers:

  • the global trends in security sector reform
  • managing situations when SSR enthusiasm dampens
  • providing long-term support without dependency

"We have to cultivate national ownership - it's not going to come and grow from itself," Wally Vrey.


Le système judiciaire en Guinée

Entretien avec maître Mamadou Laminé Fofana, conseiller spécial auprès de la présidence guinéenne pour la réforme du secteur de la justice.


" Les gens ils vont en justice, ils plaident pendant des années, parce que ça prend énormément de temps, et ils ont une décision judiciaire qui est définitive parce qu’elle revêtue la formule exécutoire. "


Interview avec Serge Rumin-Les conseillers dans des contextes de réforme

Advisers in the context of reform

Serge Rumin, Directeur du Programme DSS au Burundi, octobre 2012.

Addressing topics such as :

  • Challenges faced by advisers in complex environments
  • Role of advisers in reinforcing a state's capacity  
  • Establishing trust with external advisers
  • Advice on problems of corruption
  • Adapting to the role of adviser: credibility and legitimacy
  • Relationship with local partner/counterpart

Working with Local Counterparts

In this video, Paulo Costa, an experienced Police advisor, shares his insights on the importance of developing a good rapport with a foreign colleague.  Taking time to develop a personal relationship before getting down to business, may make your task much easier.


Inspector Pilkington on challenges and community policing

An interview with Inspector Pauline Pilkington of the UK International Police College,including an example of community policing from Namibia.


Richard Monk on 'Police Reform and UN peacekeeping'

International Policing advisor Richard Monk talks about the challenges to international support to policing and police reform, particularly in the context of UN peacekeeping missions. An extended talk by Richard Monk to ISSAT on police reform and UN peacekeeping is also available. Richard Monk's 'masterclass' is also available as a podcast which you can download in six different chapters (total running time for podcast or extended video 48' ).


Richard Monk on 'Police Reform and UN peacekeeping' - Full version

International Policing advisor Richard Monk talks about the challenges to international support to policing and police reform, particularly in the context of UN peacekeeping missions.


Jocelyne Nahimana: la mise en oeuvre de la RSS et les acteurs de la sécurité

Dans cet entretien réalisé par l'ISSAT en marge du Forum Afrique sur la RSS en 2014, Jocelyne Nahimana, ancienne chargée de projet au Programme de développement du secteur de la sécurité au Burundi (Unité de Gestion de la Bonne Gouvernance), nous parle des conditions nécessaires à la mise en oeuvre de la RSS et à l'engagement des acteurs de la sécurité. En outre, elle rappelle l'importance de se baser sur un cadre légal, et affirme que la RSS ne peut se faire sans la volonté politique de tous ceux dont les intérêts sont concernés.


Nicole Ball : democratic governance and SRR

Nicole Ball is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Policy (CIP), a member of the DCAF Advisory Board and a Strategic Adviser to ISSAT. In this interview recorded by ISSAT during the Africa Forum on SSR in November 2014, she urges to refocus on democratic governance issues, as well as on several key gaps that still need to be bridged within SSR programmes designed by external actors. She gives several recommendations, including on the role of public finance management in strengthening oversight, by taking into account the political nature of it for better security sector governance.


Freedom Nyamubaya (1960-2015) : ZPSP and Security Sector Transformation in Zimbabwe

In 2010, Freedom Nyamubaya joined with several other prominent Zimbabwean figures from across the political spectrum to establish the Zimbabwe Peace and Security Trust (ZPST), whose aim is to contribute, through the Zimbabwe Peace and Security Programme (ZPSP), to the effective and sustainable modernisation and transformation of the security sector in Zimbabwe. Freedom passed away last Sunday at her farm in Chinhoyi. In this interview with ISSAT, conducted during a mandate in Harare, she reflects on the challenges to SST. Freedom, a former fighter and frontline commander in the Zimbabwean liberation struggle, was also a well-known author. She brings her personal background into her analysis of crucial issues of legitimacy, sustainability and ownership in SST. The interview was recorded during a recent field mission by ISSAT in Zimbabwe as part of a mandate to document the ZPSP experience through the views of a broad range of stakeholders. As such, this short video by ISSAT is also a tribute to her legacy.


Awino Okech: strengthening accountability and security challenges in Kenya

Awino Okech is a SSR and Gender Expert for the African Security Sector Network (ASSN). In an interview conducted by ISSAT, she addresses a wide range of security issues, such as: the need for a space for civilian oversight mechanisms; the challenges related to the increasing role of non-state actors in the provision of security; the ways in which the lack of capacity of oversight mechanisms and the threat of terrorism are dealt with in Kenya; and the prospects for building capacity in African Union member countries. 


Aid effectiveness in JSSR

Björn Holmberg discusses the challenges facing aid effectiveness when supporting JSSR, highlighting the importance of donors supporting national ownership and national consensus in a cohesive manner. 

Björn Holmberg

Dr. Björn Holmberg has more than 20 years of field and HQ experience on issues related to peace and human security from a theoretical and a “hands-on” perspective. He is presently Secretary General of Swedepeace Foundation (2009-), a non-profit and impartial foundation promoting peaceful conflict resolution and human security. He holds a Ph.D. in Peace and Conflict Research from Uppsala University and was commissioned as an Officer in the Army Reserve at the Swedish Infantry’s Officer Academy in 1989.  Dr. Holmberg has been published on different topics such as causes of war, conflict analysis, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, SSR, DDR, etc. Currently, Dr. Björn Holmberg is the leader of the Swiss JSSR Support Team providing support to the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and Partners Inter-American Bank, in their Programme Integrated Security Sector Reform and Violence Prevention in Honduras.


Application of Tools Supporting the Theory of Change

Björn Holmberg discusses the application different tools that support a Theory of Change and how they can help make a common vision more clearer as well as  identify potential risks that may occur. These supporting tools include: Context analysis, actor analysis, scenario analysis, conflict analysis and conflict sensitive analysis. 

Björn Holmberg

Dr. Björn Holmberg has more than 20 years of field and HQ experience on issues related to peace and human security from a theoretical and a “hands-on” perspective. He is presently Secretary General of Swedepeace Foundation (2009-), a non-profit and impartial foundation promoting peaceful conflict resolution and human security. He holds a Ph.D. in Peace and Conflict Research from Uppsala University and was commissioned as an Officer in the Army Reserve at the Swedish Infantry’s Officer Academy in 1989.  Dr. Holmberg has been published on different topics such as causes of war, conflict analysis, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, SSR, DDR, etc. Currently, Dr. Björn Holmberg is the leader of the Swiss JSSR Support Team providing support to the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and Partners Inter-American Bank in their Programme Integrated Security Sector Reform and Violence Prevention in Honduras.


Holistic Approach to Supporting National Ownership in JSSR

Bjorn Holmberg discusses the critical role of civil society play in the JSSR process, particularly in terms of strengthening accountability and governance. Bjorn also emphasis the importance of supporting civil society during the national ownership process of JSSR. 

Bjorn Holmberg

Dr. Björn Holmberg has more than 20 years of field and HQ experience on issues related to peace and human security from a theoretical and a “hands-on” perspective. He is presently Secretary General of Swedepeace Foundation (2009-), a non-profit and impartial foundation promoting peaceful conflict resolution and human security. He holds a Ph.D. in Peace and Conflict Research from Uppsala University and was commissioned as an Officer in the Army Reserve at the Swedish Infantry’s Officer Academy in 1989.  Dr. Holmberg has been published on different topics such as causes of war, conflict analysis, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, SSR, DDR, etc. Currently, Dr. Björn Holmberg is the leader of the Swiss JSSR Support Team providing support to the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and Partners Inter-American Bank in their Programme Integrated Security Sector Reform and Violence Prevention in Honduras.


Security Sector Reform and Local Ownership

Security Sector Reform and Local Ownership, an interview with Erwin van Veen, who at the time of recording (October 2012) was a Policy Analyst on Peace and Security at OECD-INCAF. Currently, Mr van Veen is a Senior Research Fellow at Clingendael's Conflict Research Unit, specialising in the use of armed violence, the influence of globalisation on conflict and fragility and the political economy of fragile environments,


Coordination between International and Local Levels-Saran Daraba Kaba

In this video Saran Daraba Kaba shares with ISSAT her experience on international-local coordination. She emphasizes the importance of communication strategies and the key issue of communication channels especially when it comes to the African continent.

Saran Daraba Kaba is the founding President of the Mano River Women's Peace Network (MARWOPNET). Since its founding this organisation has played an important role in promoting women’s rights in the sub-region of the Mano River (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone).

MARWOPNET has helped bring leaders of the three governments back to negotiations in 2001 and served as a signatory to Liberian peace accords in 2003. Throughout those efforts, the network has struggled to ensure that women's voices are heard and strived to support the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 related to women and their role in conflict resolution and sustainable peace building. MARWOPNET has received the United Nations Prize in the field of Human Rights for 2003.

Saran Daraba Kaba is Guinea’s former Minister for Social Affaires and vice President of the Guinean National Council for Civil Society.


Supporting Change in JSSR

Interview with Björn Holmberg, where he introduces the concept of Theory of Change (ToC). He argues that, when applied together with the key actors as a first step, the ToC can be an effective catalyst for JSSR.

Björn Holmberg

Dr. Björn Holmberg has more than 20 years of field and HQ experience on issues related to peace and human security from a theoretical and a “hands-on” perspective. He is presently Secretary General of Swedepeace Foundation (2009-), a non-profit and impartial foundation promoting peaceful conflict resolution and human security. He holds a Ph.D. in Peace and Conflict Research from Uppsala University and was commissioned as an Officer in the Army Reserve at the Swedish Infantry’s Officer Academy in 1989.  Dr. Holmberg has been published on different topics such as causes of war, conflict analysis, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, SSR, DDR, etc. Currently, Dr. Björn Holmberg is the leader of the Swiss JSSR Support Team providing support to the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and Partners Inter-American Bank in their Programme Integrated Security Sector Reform and Violence Prevention in Honduras.


Pal Martins Interview

In this interview, Pal Martins discusses the SSR process in South Africa, and presents the incentives that led to the establishment of Pax Africa. He highlights the singularities of the SSR process in South Africa; the strong local ownership, the transformation of governmental institutions and the strong leadership, among others and lessons to be identified from this process. He also emphasises that certain singularities make the comparison of South Africa with other African countries challenging.


When everything’s broken – SSR in Libya

John Durance, former Director of the Security Sector Advisory and Coordination Division, UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) 

In this interview, John Durance draws our attention to the SSR situation in Libya. He begins with the challenges that Libya has been facing in the post-Gaddafi period, and why the implementation of SSR has been particularly problematic. He addresses the framework in which SSR should take place, including good governance, the involvement of civil society, and the dialogue with non-state actors. Speaking from a point of expertise, he provides a crucial insight on how to simplify SSR for all involved.


Jane Rhodes: The Role of International Police Advisors

What is the role of international police advisors? Jane Rhodes, former Reform and Restructure Coordinator with UNMIL, speaks to ISSAT about skills necessary for international police advisors to successfully help host states. Rhodes, who spent three years working with the National Liberian Army, emphasises the importance of ensuring local ownership, professionalism, and positive attitude while engaging in international missions.


Identifying dimensions of fragility in JSSR

Björn Holmberg focuses on the importance of identifying the different dimensions of institutional fragility when supporting JSSR. Björn provides examples of the detrimental consequences a weak civil service and the impact of the illegal drug trade can have on JSSR. 

Björn Holmberg

Dr. Björn Holmberg has more than 20 years of field and HQ experience on issues related to peace and human security from a theoretical and a “hands-on” perspective. He is presently Secretary General of Swedepeace Foundation (2009-), a non-profit and impartial foundation promoting peaceful conflict resolution and human security. He holds a Ph.D. in Peace and Conflict Research from Uppsala University and was commissioned as an Officer in the Army Reserve at the Swedish Infantry’s Officer Academy in 1989.  Dr. Holmberg has been published on different topics such as causes of war, conflict analysis, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, SSR, DDR, etc. Currently, Dr. Björn Holmberg is the leader of the Swiss JSSR Support Team providing support to the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and Partners Inter-American Bank in their Programme Integrated Security Sector Reform and Violence Prevention in Honduras.


Zimbabwe Peace and Security Programme (ZPSP)

This video is a collation of voices speaking on the Zimbabwe Peace and Security Programme (ZPSP), created under the Zimbabwe Peace and Security Trust (ZPST),  a wholly independent, legal trust established in Zimbabwe. The Trust aims to contribute, through the provision of impartial and professional technical assistance, to effective and sustainable modernisation and transformation of the security sector in order to enhance the democratic governance, security and the national sovereignty of the people of Zimbabwe.

This video is also part of the ISSAT Case Study on the Zimbabwe Peace and Security Programme.


Piet Biesheuvel - Being an Effective Advisor

Piet Biesheuvel discusses the aspects that make advising effective in SSR. The video highlights several key skills required for the advisor, who has to work for a long-term process and with individuals of different backgrounds. Advisors needs to adapt quickly to environments unfamiliar to them, but also to the varying expectations of donors and partners. 

Piet Biesheuvel

Piet Biesheuvel is a Senior Security and Justice Adviser who regularly supports ISSAT mandates and also co-facilitates on ISSAT trainings. He has a wide range of developmental experience in the governance, justice and security sectors.  He has advised on, designed, implemented or reviewed security and justice sector reform programmes throughout sub-Sahara Africa, as well as in North Africa and the Middle East, the Balkans, Central and Latin America, the Caribbean and South Asia. He has conducted a number of sector-wide reviews for the British Government.


Customary Justice in Zimbabwe

In this interview, Fortune Charumbira, the President Zimbabwe Chief’s Council, introduces the concept of customary justice within the context of Zimbabwe. He highlights the responsibility of the traditional leader to ensure the well-being of the whole community including the food security and the protection and maintenance of the environment. He identifies the players involved in the process of traditional justice and he stresses on the role of the traditional leaders to insure peace and harmony. He explains the role of the customary courts in solving the disputes along with the local formal judicial bodies which were set before the independence under the colonial government. He argues that traditional system of justice is mainly based on negotiation, reconciliation and mediation. He insists on the role of the formal police  and the traditional leaders in the local peace and security process. However, he points that the customary justice presents certain limitations and clashes of paradigm.


Introduction to ISSAT's Community of Practice website

This is a short video explaining the ISSAT Community of Practice website:

The video takes users through the key sections of the website, and is a resource for practitioners in the field of Security Sector Reform.


Human Security & Women's Expectations of the Security Forces - Saran Daraba Kaba

In this video interview, Saran Daraba Kaba, talks about her expectations -as a woman and as the head of a Non-Governmental Organisation- of the Security Forces. She emphasizes aspects relevant to her country, Guinea-Conkary and to the African continent in general.

Saran Daraba Kaba is the founding President of the Mano River Women's Peace Network (MARWOPNET). Since its founding, this organisation has played an important role in promoting women’s rights in the sub-region of the Mano River (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone).

MARWOPNET has helped bring leaders of the three governments back to negotiations in 2001 and served as a signatory to Liberian peace accords in 2003. Throughout those efforts, the network has struggled to ensure that women's voices are heard and strived to support the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 related to women and their role in conflict resolution and sustainable peace building. MARWOPNET has received the United Nations Prize in the field of Human Rights for 2003.

Saran Daraba Kaba is Guinea’s former Minister for Social Affairs and Vice President of the Guinean National Council for Civil Society.


Mark Downes on Advising

Mark Downes, Assistant Director of the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) and Head of DCAF’s Operations Department, explains why the past experience of practitioners can be both their greatest asset and their biggest baggage. Adapting advice to the context is crucial. 


Enhancing Bilateral and Multilateral Coordination

There are several layers and several dimensions that underline coordination and make it challenging. The main lesson from the current SSR processes is that coordination should not be looked upon as an end in itself. It’s actually a goal to facilitate the implementation of these reforms and actually to achieve their sustainability.

In this ISSAT video, Dr. Anicia Lala, Senior SSR Advisor at ISSAT, discusses the challenges in enhancing coordination among bilateral, multilateral and national partners in the context of SSR programme implementation.


Asesoramiento en medio de un proceso masivo de reforma policial

Entrevista con Gregory Jaquet, experto en policia en el ISSAT


Mise en place d'une approche sensible au conflit faisant partie intégrante des expertises police

Dans cette vidéo, Gregory Jaquet, expert police de l'ISSAT, se penche sur la mise en place d'une approche sensible au conflit faisant partie intégrante des expertises police. Il présente notamment l'aspect essentiel de la prudence, lorsqu'il s'agit de la prise en compte des motivations des interlocuteurs lors de missions. En effet, Gregory Jaquet soutient que les interlocuteurs, tels que les forces de police du Honduras qu'il a rencontré lors d'une mission précédente, peuvent avoir plusieures motivations et de multiples problèmes en même temps. Rare est le cas où le seul besoin est la réforme des forces de police, c'est pour cela que l'écoute et la compréhension sont clés. Il 'sagit pour lui, d'avoir une méthodologie d'entretien très stricte ainsi qu'une approche humble.

Afin d'accéder à la vidéo, Mise en place d'une approche sensible au conflit faisant partie intégrante des expertises police,veuillez cliquer sur le lien.


Gerson Velásquez - La RSS y la igualdad de género

Este video es una entrevista con el Sub-comisionado de la Policía Gerson Velásquez, con subtítulos en Inglés y en Francés. Fue realizado por el ISSAT durante una misíon en Honduras.

El Comisario mentiona las oportunidades para la integración de los principios de igualdad de género en una transformación del sector de la seguridad. También se analizan los desafíos que enfrentan las estrategias en este sentido y insiste en la necesidad de que la policía adopte un enfoque específico en su trabajo en el área de género.


Building Trust and National Ownership in SSR

In this video, Dr. Björn Holmberg discusses the importance of having time for dialogue and building trust with local actors to understand their driving forces and dynamics when supporting the SSR process. Björn also highlights that SSR support approaches should be realistic and centered on the promotion of national ownership. 

Björn Holmberg

Dr. Björn Holmberg has more than 20 years of field and HQ experience on issues related to peace and human security from a theoretical and a “hands-on” perspective. He holds a Ph.D. in Peace and Conflict Research from Uppsala University. He was the Secretary General of Swedepeace Foundation (2009-2017), a non-profit and impartial foundation promoting peaceful conflict resolution and human security and was commissioned as an Officer in the Army Reserve at the Swedish Infantry’s Officer Academy in 1989.  Dr. Holmberg has been published on different topics such as causes of war, conflict analysis, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, SSR, DDR, etc. Currently, Dr. Björn Holmberg is the Swiss SSR Support Team leader providing support to the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and Partners Inter-American Bank in their Programme Integrated Security Sector Reform and Violence Prevention in Honduras Programme in Honduras. Dr. Holmberg is current Director for the Challenges Forum - The International Forum for Challenges of Peace Operations.  


Presentation at 3rd Annual Peacekeeping Africa Conference, Johannesburg, South Africa

Security Capacity Building (SCB) is the main vehicle of support to African Peace Support Operations Troop Contributing Countries (PSO TCC) whether through aid or the market place. Introducing the Governance element into the assistance to African PSO TCC can yield benefits. This implies:

  • including issues related to accountability (behavioural and performance related),
  • inclusiveness,
  • efficiency,
  • oversight,
  • management,
  • leadership,
  • legitimacy and
  • linkage into wider institution-building processes of the organisations of the partner countries in charge of training and deployment of troops, police and civilians to PSOs.

In this video, Thammy Evans reflects on the Security Capacity Building and the Training of PSO personnel in SSR where she discusses training for peace support operations, the role of peacekeeping training centres, institution- and capacity building. The video was presented at the 3rd Annual Peacekeeping Africa Conference that took place in Johannesburg, South Africa on 29 - 30  August 2017.  

For full access to the video, ISSAT Presentation at the 3rd  Annual Peacekeeping Conference, kindly follow the link. 


Policy and Research Papers

Informal Conclusions of the Chair: High Level Panel on the Challenges and Opportunities for Security Sector Reform (SSR) in East Africa

The overall purpose of the High Level Panel (October 2nd-3rd 2012) was to take stock of the challenges when implementing security and justice reforms at a national level; to identify lessons that could be applied to other SSR processes in the Eastern African region; and to look at what role regional and international actors could optimally have in SSR initiatives. The High Level Panel brought together over 200 SSR policy makers and practitioners to unpack the key issues faced by both those implementing and leading SSR. Those attending the event were experts responsible for leading and implementing processes in Burundi, Somalia and South Sudan, as well as key donors, regional and multilateral organisations and representatives from the African Security Sector Network and other civil society organisations. 

This report reflects the informal conclusions drawn from the selected country-case studies as well as thematic debates at the High-Level Panel. 


The Road Ahead: Challenges and Opportunities of SSR 2013

On 2-3 October 2012, DCAF-ISSAT organised a High Level Panel (HLP) on Challenges and Opportunities for Security Sector Reform (SSR) in East Africa , in partnership with the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON), the Governments of Burundi, Kenya, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Somalia and South Sudan, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Union (AU), East African Community (EAC), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Security Sector Network (ASSN). It was attended by over two hundred SSR policy makers and practitioners.

This report seeks to take those discussions further, including more of the points raised by participants during the HLP, and adding in lessons from experience gathered from individual missions and related trainings. Three case studies featured in the HLP (Burundi, Somalia and South Sudan) and as such provide many of the examples, although the report also draws from examples beyond East Africa. An introductory section on SSR in each of these countries is provided in section one and full case studies are included in the annex.

This report, which keeps to the same thematic areas as those covered in the HLP, offers information on contemporary thinking in security and justice reform, and provides some recommendations and examples of good practice to those interested in or engaged in SSR.

Some videos interviews of the participants at the event are listed in the Related Resources column on the right of this webpage. A full list of available videos from this event are available under the documents tab on the HLP's Events page. Podcasts of all the sessions are available there also.


Evaluation de la phase II du Programme du Développement du Secteur de la Sécurité au Burundi

Le royaume des Pays-Bas a mandaté l’ISSAT afin de conduire une évaluation de la 2ième phase du programme DSS lancé en 2009 en soutien des deux principales institutions de sécurité de la république du Burundi, la FDN et la PNB. Reposant sur un Mémorandum d’Entente (MdE) signé par les deux pays pour une durée de huit ans, le programme s’échelonne sur 4 périodes d’environ deux ans chacune ; il porte sur trois axes clairement formalisés, appelés ici « piliers », le « MSP et la PNB », le « MDNAC et la FDN » et les « questions transversales », redéfini en axe « gouvernance » dès le début de la phase II.

Voir le mandat Burundi ici.

View the Burundi Mandate here.


Audit de l'inspection générale de la sécurité publique du Burundi - Rapport Final

Cette mission d’audit a été demandée par l’inspection générale de la sécurité publique (IGSP) du ministère de la Sécurité publique (MSP) du Burundi en liaison avec le programme de Développement du Secteur de la Sécurité (DSS) des Pays-Bas. Elle s’inscrit dans le contexte du nouveau plan stratégique du MSP 2013-2016, du plan d’action 2014 de l’IGSP et la préparation de la phase III du DSS.

L’objectif principal de cette mission était d’analyser l’organisation, la structure et le fonctionnement de l’IGSP afin de définir des recommandations pour l’amélioration de son service et du contrôle interne de la police en tenant compte du contexte politique, économique et social actuel du Burundi et des principes fondamentaux de démocratie, d’intégrité et de contrôle interne de la Police du Burundi.

En savoir plus.

To find out more.


What Works in International Security and Justice Programming?



This preliminary scoping study was commissioned by the Department for International Development (DFID), with the aim of considering the security and justice sector reform efforts of 19 of the main Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – Development Assistance Council (OECD-DAC) donors. It focuses on the efforts of each nation’s foreign affairs, development, defence, and justice agencies, and provides an initial assessment of how policy and programming are linked, what evidence of good practice has been collected, and what knowledge and programming gaps exist currently.


Processing a Security and Justice Reform Assessment Request

This is the first OGN in the assessment process series. It covers issues to be taken into account when first receiving a request to assist with a security and justice assessment. It provides an overview of the main steps that you should consider in order to ensure that you have as clear a picture as possible of what is required in order to start planning, as well as gathering initial information. It assumes that the request has come from a donor, but that the national partners will be brought into the process as soon as possible, in line with commitments under the Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda for Action.


Roundtable on Security Sector Expenditure Reviews; Nairobi, Kenya 1 October 2012

On 1 October 2012 the roundtable on Security Sector Expenditure Reviews, hosted by the World Bank Global Centre on Conflict, Security and Development in Nairobi, Kenya and organised in partnership with DCAF’s International Security Sector Advisory Team, brought together economists and Security Sector Reform (SSR) practitioners and experts to discuss the challenges and opportunities for supporting the conduct of expenditure reviews and enhancing financial management in the security sector. 

The roundtable considered past and ongoing security sector expenditure reviews, in particular in Afghanistan and Liberia.  It sought to examine the challenges, trends and prospects of including similar reviews in other post-conflict countries.  It also provided a platform for economists and SSR practitioners to discuss how they can better collaborate to promote and enhance security sector expenditure review processes.  In addition, the roundtable included discussions on how such expenditure reviews can enhance ongoing SSR efforts and how to ensure that financial management becomes more integrated in SSR processes.


Overview of SSR policies of multilateral organisations

The International Security Sector Advisory Team provides an overview of policies in the UN, AU, ECOWAS, EU, OSCE, and NATO. 


Evaluation de la réforme de la sécurité et de la justice au Burundi

Rapport final


Ce rapport d'évaluation, commandité conjointement par le gouvernement du Burundi, le gouvernement du Royaume des Pays-Bas et le Bureau des Nations Unies au Burundi, porte sur les efforts concertés des burundais et de tous leurs partenaires internationaux pour réformer les secteurs de la sécurité et de la justice (principalement la chaine pénale) depuis la signature de l’Accord d’Arusha en 2000. Les objectifs principaux de cette évaluation étaient :

  • de fournir un aperçu de l'évolution du processus de réforme de 2000 à 2013 ; 
  • d'identifier les résultats obtenus, les lacunes, les défis et les déficits ; et 
  • de formuler des recommandations aux autorités burundaises et à ses partenaires nationaux et internationaux visant à améliorer les activités actuelles et futures du processus de réforme. 

Pour réaliser cette évaluation, le gouvernement des Pays-Bas a sollicité l’appui d’une équipe d’ISSAT (International Security Sector Advisory Team) qui a débuté ses travaux en mai 2013. Un Comité Directeur chargé d'accompagner les étapes de l’évaluation, d'en analyser les rapports intermédiaires, provisoires et finaux, et de les approuver fut établi. Ce comité était composé de représentants du gouvernement du Burundi (exécutif, législatif et judicaire), des partenaires techniques et financiers (PTF) et de la société civile.


Human Rights Based Approach to SSR

The UN characterises a HRBA as a “conceptual framework that is normatively based on international human rights standards and operationally directed to promoting and protecting human rights”. Similar to the UN’s HRBA Common Understanding, the European Commission’s rights-based approach (RBA) integrates human rights principles and standards into all aspects of the programme design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. In these rights-based conceptual frameworks, participation, local empowerment, national ownership meaningful inclusion and accountability are central elements to their implementation.

This ISSAT Research Paper explores how a HRBA helps us to get started on the right path to doing things right in SSR. 


Examination of Legal Aid in Haiti - Lessons Learned

Between 2 and 18 February 2017 a joint team from the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (MINUSTAH and the Justice and Corrections Service) and the USAID Justice Sector Strengthening Program (JSSP), supported by DCAF’s International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT) and the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) undertook a mission to Haiti that examined the MINUSTAH-supported Legal Aid Office (Bureau d’Assistance Légale - BAL) of Port-au-Prince (2012-2017), Cap-Haïtien and Les Cayes (2015-2016), legal aid projects implemented by PROJUSTICE/USAID, and Government-supported BAL established between 2015 and 2017.

The mission report is available in English and French. 


Cattle Rustling and Insecurity in Africa: A Comparative Perspective

Cattle rustling is on the rise in various African countries, with the associated number of deaths, both amongst cattle rustlers, security forces and affected populations reaching problematic proportions. Yet, there is limited policy-oriented research on this matter ranging the security-development continuum. This ISSAT brief, developed as part of the mandate Reinforcing African Union SSR Unit support to national SSR processes draws on existing literature, and provides an overview of cattle rustling in Madagascar, Lesotho, South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya. A brief contextualisation is provided for each country, before outlining the security measures implemented to tackle the challenge, and deriving recommendations.

For full access to the paper, Cattle Rustling and Insecurity in Africa: A Comparative Perspective, kindly follow the link. 


Other Documents

ISSAT Service Line Flyers - ALL

A print-out version of what is available on our Service Lines webpage.

Other Document

Sources of information on needs and actors in the criminal-justice chain

The following are possible sources of information on the criminal justice needs of communities and on the criminal justice actors:

Sources for criminal justice needs

  • Reports of national and international human rights organisations
  • Reports of independent national bodies such as a human rights commission, an anti-corruption body, or an audit office
  • Medical sources such as hospital records, experiences of medical staff, and medical insurers if these exist for information about injury and hence about possible victims
  • Reports by national and international think tanks and academic institutions
  • Reports of women’s organisations and other relevant non-governmental organisations
  • Media reports
  • Statistics and databases of criminal justice institutions
  • United Nations reports:
    • Reports of the United Nations Secretary-General and United Nations Security Council resolutions (Security Council on-line)
    • Consolidated Appeals Processes (CAP) (OCHA on-line)
    • Reports and strategic frameworks of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (PBC on-line)
    • Reports of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, reports by special mechanisms of the Human Rights Council, and concluding observations of human rights treaty bodies (OHCHR on-line)
    • United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAF), Common Country Assessments (CCA) and Post-Conflict Needs Assessments (PCNA) (UNDG on-line)
  • Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) (World Bank on-line and IMF on-line)

Additional sources for criminal justice actors

In addition to the above sources, the following sources may provide useful information on criminal justice actors:

  • Ceasefire and peace agreements
  • National constitution and relevant domestic laws and statutes
  • Personnel files and registries of criminal justice institutions
  • Relevant government policies and strategies
Other Document

ISSAT 16th Governing Board meeting - overview of 2016

Overview of the year 2016 so far, given by Mark Downes, Head of ISSAT, at the occasion of the 16th Governing Board meeting in Geneva.

Other Document

Benefits of ISSAT Membership

Provides a brief overview of our services and explains mechanisms for funding ISSAT.

Other Document

Africa Forum on SSR - Concept Note

This concept note describes the background to the 2014 Africa Forum on Security Sector Reform.

Other Document

ISSAT, July 2016: highlights of the year so far

mid year inforgraphics screenshot

ISSAT's mid-year infographic showcases the year so far, including new areas ISSAT has supported, upcoming mandates and a financial overview.

Other Document

Coordination and Security Sector Reform - An Overview of Policy Documents on Donor Coordination

Coordination has been widely recognized in both the SSR and international community as a crucial element to reform and development processes. Within the SSR context, coordination can improve effectiveness, credibility, management and sustainability of projects and programmes as well as minimize duplication efforts and unnecessary spending.

To further support coordination mechanisms, the international community conducted and produced a variety of high levels fora, conferences and policy documents. These include:

• The Rome Declaration for Harmonisation (2002)
• The Paris Declaration (2005)
• The Accra Agenda (2008)
• The Intergovernmental 3C Conference (2009)
• The Busan Agreement (2011)

This executive summary prepared by ISSAT will provide a brief overview of these policy documents.

Other Document

The Military Contribution to SSR - more than train and equip

The following presentation was provided at the Understand to Prevent Workshop held by the Multinational Capability Development Campaign (MCDC) on 25 June 2015. 

Its basic premise is that if SSR is started early and wide, then it can improve the resilience and upstream capacity of the security sector, and contribute to the prevention of violent conflict.

For more information on MCDC, view this paper.

Other Document

Sources of information on needs and actors in the criminal justice chain

The following are possible sources of information on the criminal justice needs of communities and on the criminal justice actors:

Sources for criminal justice needs

  • Reports of national and international human rights organisations
  • Reports of independent national bodies such as a human rights commission, an anti-corruption body, or an audit office
  • Medical sources such as hospital records, experiences of medical staff, and medical insurers if these exist for information about injury and hence about possible victims
  • Reports by national and international think tanks and academic institutions
  • Reports of women’s organisations and other relevant non-governmental organisations
  • Media reports
  • Statistics and databases of criminal justice institutions
  • United Nations reports:
    • Reports of the United Nations Secretary-General and United Nations Security Council resolutions (Security Council on-line)
    • Consolidated Appeals Processes (CAP) (OCHA on-line)
    • Reports and strategic frameworks of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (PBC on-line)
    • Reports of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, reports by special mechanisms of the Human Rights Council, and concluding observations of human rights treaty bodies (OHCHR on-line)
    • United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAF), Common Country Assessments (CCA) and Post-Conflict Needs Assessments (PCNA) (UNDG on-line)
  • Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) (World Bank on-line and IMF on-line)

Additional sources for criminal justice actors

In addition to the above sources, the following sources may provide useful information on criminal justice actors:

  • Ceasefire and peace agreements
  • National constitution and relevant domestic laws and statutes
  • Personnel files and registries of criminal justice institutions
  • Relevant government policies and strategies
Other Document

Interpreting International Norms for a More Impactful Human Rights-based Approach (HRBA) in SSR


How can a system-wide guidance tool grounded in international human rights norms and standards strengthen the holistic approach inherent to SSR? This second paper from the HRBA Working Group from ISSAT’s Methodology Cell explores international human rights norms and standards with jurisprudence set by the ECHR, IACHR and UN international instruments.

Read Paper 1: Rethinking a Human Rights-based Approach to SSR

For further information on the Working Group's research, please refer to the Rethinking a Human Rights-based Approach (HRBA) in Security Sector Reform blog

Other Document

Forced Displacement and SSR - Briefing Note

The rise in the number of armed conflict in recent years aggravated by other factors have led to an increase in the global flows of migration and forced displacement resulting in the worst humanitarian crises in decades. The issue of forced displacement has become a direct concern for the Security and Justice Sector Reform Community. In this briefing note, ISSAT outlines the push factors for forced displacement and provides some recommendations to address them. 

Other Document

Security Sector Reform, an integrating function or a separate discipline?

Security Sector Reform is increasingly perceived as the answer to the vast array of security challenges that beset post-conflict and fragile communities. It is hyped as the answer to the exit strategy dilemma faced by the international community. It is not the concept of SSR that matters, but the integrated approach it brings to police reform, defense reform, justice reform, governance reform and national security planning. It can also be the bridge that conceptually links the security-development nexus.

Input by: DCAF’s International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT)

Other Document

Using the Capacity Integrity Framework (CIF)

This document explains how to apply the Capacity Integrity Framework to assess the capacity and integrity of a security institution. It lists the general question areas to be explored in each of the four areas of the matrix. 

Other Document

ISSAT Mid-year Report 2015

See how we've progressed to 31 May 2015. 

Other Document

Identification of service delivery gaps and overlaps

Various tools including maps, tables and charts are contained in this document to establish service delivery gaps and overlaps between actors:

  1. Geographical gaps and overlaps
  2. Functional overlaps and gaps
  3. Size of actors
  4. Composition of senior personnel
Other Document

ISSAT, July 2017: highlights of the year so far


DCAF-ISSAT's mid-year infographic showcases the year so far, including new areas we supported, increase in our justice mandates, our recent focus on certain themes and countries and a brief financial overview.

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Comparative Resources for Parliamentary Committees of Defence, Interior and Security

This document outlines comparative resource material on security, defense and interior parliamentary committees. The material is divided according to: established democracies, near and middle-eastern democracies, and post-conflict democracies. The "established democracies" category has quite a few committee Terms of Reference, including from the US, the UK, Switzerland, Australia and France; Also included are some rules of procedure, some of which outline more generally what committees do and how they function. Providing the broader context is generally very useful for an establishing parliament. The near and middle-eastern section sought to draw on Arab parliaments. Many of these countries do not have security-related committees, because oversight, particularly of the security sector, is not always sanctioned; some parliaments simply don't have websites; and a number are only in Arabic. Nevertheless, there are a few that are available, including from Turkey and Iraq.

There are also a few examples from post-conflict countries, given the sensitivities to security in such transitions. Here there is quite a bit, particularly from the Balkans. Also included are some secondary sources and case studies. A section on the "Role of Parliaments in Overseeing the Security Sector," is a collection of secondary sources that are very relevant to security-related committees. These include materials from DCAF, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), UNDP and a couple of others. There are some good case studies from Palestine and Iraq, among others. There is a book chapter about parliamentary oversight of the security sector in Afghanistan (DCAF publication), which has a focus on committees as well as a more general description of how parliaments can exercise oversight of the security sector.

The IPU is a particularly useful website with a comparative database of parliaments around the world and a webpage where parliamentary websites from around the world are made easily accessible on one page. IPU'  PARLINE database contains information on the structure and working methods of 266 parliamentary chambers in all of the 189 countries that have a parliament.

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ISSAT Mid-year Report 2013

In February 2013, ISSAT celebrated five years of its establishment as a standing capacity in support of its Members’ security and justice reform programmes. Since its inception in 2008, ISSAT has completed 224 mandates as well as a growing number of advocacy and outreach activities. This has allowed ISSAT to refine its knowledge in terms of thematic areas, processes and contexts. In addition, ISSAT has developed firm partnerships, notably with the Africa Security Sector Network (ASSN), the Association for Security Sector Reform Education and Training (ASSET), Governance and Social Development Research Centre (GSDRC), le Groupe de Recherche et d’Information sur la Paix and la Sécurité (GRIP), and now has a fully established roster of additional experts, all of which extend the capacity of ISSAT to provide added value to its Members...

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ISSAT Interim Annual Report 2013

With the celebration of its fifth anniversary, as a standing capacity to support its Members’ security and justice reform programmes around the globe, ISSAT has established itself as a major contributor to international cooperation in the fields of security and justice reform. Having supported almost 300 activities and mandates throughout the years, ISSAT has developed and refined its knowledge and capacity across a variety of thematic and geographical areas, processes, and contexts. ISSAT has continuously developed and adapted its service lines to better suit the needs and requests of

Following on from the trend identified at the end of 2012 in the area of Advisory Field Support, ISSAT has seen an increase in its activities in regions in which it was previously not engaged. This has been the case in North Africa, with two missions in Libya to support the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), and in Latin America and the Caribbean, with multiple missions to support the European Union, the OECD and Switzerland. Another noticeable trend is the large number of mandates which have rolled over from one year to the next, for example support to the United Kingdom’s annual evaluation of its Security Sector Accountability and Police Reform (SSAPR) Programme in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, UNSMIL’s support in the Libyan Defence White Paper Process, and UNDP Somalia’s Police Programme and support for the Somaliland Observatory of Conflict and Violence Prevention. Similarly, Members have kept their tendency to use ISSAT support for multiple missions as part of a single mandate. This has, for example, been the case of the European Union (EU), which requested ISSAT to undertake field missions in eleven Latin American and Caribbean countries over a period of four months.

For the third year running ISSAT supported Canada, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom to run their annual Senior Strategic Advisers’ Master Class on Police Reform (PMC) in an International and SSR Context, which was hosted by Switzerland. This recurring event is an example of a successful joint endeavour between five Members of ISSAT’s Governing Board.

The PMC is also an example of the increasing diversity of requests for ISSAT’s support in training and capacity building. The classic Level 1 SSR Course is now complemented with various other requests such as: the integration of SSR modules into other related trainings (for example peace-support operations, civil-military relations), new and different audiences (UN Standing Police Capacity, African Development Bank), e-learning modules available in several languages, and several Advanced Level 2 SSR Courses.

In the field of Knowledge Services, ISSAT has continued to build its global community of security and justice practitioners with an emphasis on exchange of information, knowledge and experiences. The Community of Practice (CoP) now has almost 1000 Members who can access a vast repository of policy and guidance documents, e-learning courses, cases studies, videos and other resources. Advocacy and Outreach activities have steadily increased and serve to support the work of the other three service lines. These activities tie together ISSAT’s efforts to ensure that Members and the wider SSR Community are aware of, buy into, and take ownership for application of international good practice in SSR support. To build upon the success of the 2012 Nairobi High Level Panel on SSR in East Africa, ISSAT is in the early stages of planning another high level discussion event for 2014.

With cost-sharing now firmly established for UN and EU requests, ISSAT has received 13 mandates from multilateral Members, which have entailed 25 missions in 21 countries. The multilateral Members which have requested ISSAT’s support include: EU, OECD, UNDP, the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), UNSMIL, UN Standing Police Capacity (UN SPC), UNDP Somalia and the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (ONUCI).

In sum, another very productive year for ISSAT, with a total of 70 activities for 13 Members in the following 40 countries: Albania, Armenia, Austria, EU Headquarters in Brussels, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burundi, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Finland, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Honduras, the UN in Italy, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Libya, Liberia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Peru, Senegal, Serbia, Somalia, South Sudan, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay*, and the UN’s Headquarters in New York. A full overview of ISSAT’s activities can be found at Annex A.

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ISSAT Leaflet 2016

The ISSAT leaflet provides a short overview of the International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT). It briefly describes ISSAT's mission, membership and the key service lines (Advisory Field support, Training and Capacity Development, Advocacy and Outreach, Knowledge Services). It also provides a brief description the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), as well as details of how to contact ISSAT and request support/become a Member.

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SSR Trends and Challenges in Africa: A Partners' Summary of the first Africa Forum on SSR

Available in العربية and Français 

The Africa Forum on SSR, 24th – 26th November 2014, reflects the importance and depth of critical understanding of the topic of Security Sector Reform. The Forum brought together over 250 policy makers, analysts and practitioners to exchange experiences and lessons, and explore practical ways to further successful SSR against the myriad of challenges faced by countries and regions in Africa. This partner summary compiles notes on the relevance of SSR and the recognition of SSR as a political process, the importance of monitoring and evaluation, the need for a holistic approach, and the role of the AU and sub-regional institutions in supporting justice and SSR.

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ISSAT Interim Annual Report 2014

Over the past year, we have witnessed the first unanimous UN Security Council Resolution (2151) on SSR,  the tremendous interest and high level participation in the 2014 Africa Forum on SSR in Addis Ababa. There were also numerous high level debates on SSR throughout the year—such as at the GLOBSEC conference in Slovakia, the Alpbach Forum in Austria, and at the first GAAMAC meeting held in Costa Rica—showing that we are seeing a growing, if not reinvigorated, interest and commitment to SSR in the global policy discourse and development agendas. 

With 59 mandates and activities undertaken in 2014, the demand for ISSAT services has remained constant. 

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UN Peace Operations: What Needs to Change?

International police assistance mandates have changed over the past two decades. Activities have become increasingly wide-ranging and complex, moving from monitoring host State police officers to supporting the reform and restructuring of police organisations. In a few exceptional cases, (most recently Kosovo and Timor-Leste) ‘executive’ police mandates involve substituting for inadequate or absent policing and law enforcement capacity. Both executive and non-executive missions have focused on building capacity of the host State police, a task complicated by weak governance, fragile institutions, community dislocation, rapid urbanisation and transnational criminal groups.

Input by: Tor Tanke Holm, Deputy Director of the Norwegian Police University College, and Mark Downes, Assistant Director DCAF and Head of the International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT)

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Decentralisation of Security Governance: Facilitator of a Human Rights-based Approach (HRBA) to SSR?

The UN Common Understanding of a HRBA among UN Agencies (2003) was designed to provide guidance to UN mandates on incorporating human rights standards, norms and principles into all programming support components. The third paper from the HRBA Working Group from ISSAT’s Methodology Cell highlights the need for further study on Decentralisation of Security Governance (DSG) by providing brief examples of how Local Security Councils (LSCs), mechanisms of DSG, can help turn the principles of inclusivity, local ownership, accountability and participation into actionable outcomes in line with a HRBA.

Read Paper 1: Rethinking a Human Rights-based Approach to SSR

 & Paper 2: Interpreting International Norms for a More Impactful Human Rights-based Approach (HRBA) in SSR

For further information on the Working Group's research, please refer to the Rethinking a Human Rights-based Approach (HRBA) in Security Sector Reform blog

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ZPSP - Good Practice

Good Practice doc

This document sums-up good practice identified by the ISSAT mission with the ZPSP, as part of the webpage dedicated to the programme, where you can also access fourteen videos illustrating each of the elements described.

This document is part of the ISSAT Case Study on the Zimbabwe Peace and Security Programme (ZPSP)

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Mapping of Development Partner Support to Justice and Security Sector Reform in Nigeria (Final Report)

This mapping study provides an overview of the various ongoing or planned development partner efforts to support security sector reform in Nigeria since 2014. The mapping was jointly undertaken by the German Federal Foreign Office and ISSAT. The report tracks development partner support to all justice and security sector institutions in Nigeria. The elements of support were organized according to four categories: management reform, accountability reforms, capacity building/training and equipment/infrastructure support. Given the resource and time constraints facing the mapping team, the mapping only covered activities and programme interventions for the period of 2014 to 2016. All future programme activities that were identified were detailed under future support.

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Baseline Assessment on Strategic Management Capacity in the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Moldova

This report provides an overview of the strategic planning and management capacity in the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Moldova (MIA) in order to inform the design of a potential Swedish-funded programme to support development in this area. The information on which the analysis is based was gathered over the period May-June 2014. 

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ISSAT 2013 Annual Report

From the Introduction

With the celebration of its fifth anniversary, as a standing capacity to support its Members’ security and justice reform programmes around the globe, ISSAT has established itself as a major contributor to international cooperation in the fields of security and justice reform. ISSAT has continuously developed and adapted its service lines to better suit the needs and requests of Members.

Following on from the trend identified at the end of 2012 in the area of Advisory Field Support, ISSAT has seen an increase in its activities in regions in which it was previously not engaged. This has been the case in North Africa, with two missions in Libya to support the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), and in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), with multiple missions to support the EU, the OECD and Switzerland. Another noticeable trend is the large number of mandates which have rolled over from one year to the next, for example support to the United Kingdom’s annual evaluation of its Security Sector Accountability and Police Reform (SSAPR) Programme in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), UNSMIL’s support in the Libyan Defence White Paper Process, and UNDP Somalia’s Police Programme and support for the Somaliland Observatory of Conflict and Violence Prevention. Similarly, Members have kept their tendency to use ISSAT support for multiple missions as part of a single mandate. This has, for example, been the case of the EU, which requested ISSAT to undertake field missions in eleven Latin American and Caribbean countries over a period of four months.


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Linking SSR and Public Finance Management in Post-Conflict Settings

Public finance management (PFM) has been continuously recognised in policies and guidance notes as an important element of sustainable and effective security sector reform (SSR), nonetheless PFM has been inconsistently integrated into SSR processes nor been a deliberate aim of SSR programming. In practice PFM and SSR specific programmes have commonly remained complementary yet distinctly separate. Discussions on finance related issues are often simplified to discussions about the total resource allocation, without exploring the more nuanced questions about how expenditure translates to improved performance and effectiveness of institutions, affordability but also oversight of expenditure.

In October 2017 DCAF-ISSAT organised a panel bringing together both leading advisors on SSR and on security expenditure issues. The panellists explored potential entry points for strengthening the linkages and collaboration between the two communities as a means to ensure PFM is more consistently an integral element of broader SSR processes.


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ISSAT 2015 Annual Report

ISSAT Annual Report Screenshot

From the introduction:

The unprecedented number of high profile mandates, activities, and events that ISSAT has been asked to support in 2015 reaffirms that ISSAT is a well-established and an important contributor to SSR policy discourse, supporting bilateral and multilateral SSR programmes, and collating emerging good practice. Equally, the escalating global security and humanitarian crises, which impacted virtually every region and country and have been at the forefront of the international development and security agendas, further reaffirms that the work of ISSAT is well aligned to the contemporary priority needs of the wider international community.


  • Introduction by the Governing Board Chair
  • Supporting Policy Dialogue
  • Supporting Coordination: Forging Partnerships
  • Filling a Growing Demand for Capacity Building
  • Backstopping and Advisory Support
  • Consolidating Knowledge: Refocusing on What Works
  • Top 10 Lessons Identified from ISSAT Mandates
  • Trends and Challenges
  • Capacity and Human Resources
  • Performance
  • Financial Report
  • Overview of Mandates
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Rethinking a Human Rights-based Approach to SSR


This is the first of the three Working Papers by ISSAT's Human Rights-based Approach (HRBA) Working Group that examine the common linkages between the impact and sustainability of SSR projects and the application of a HRBA as defined by the EU and UN. Working Paper 1 sets the base for the rest by presenting the state of SSR and describing how a HRBA can be reinforced.

For further information on the Working Group's research, please refer to the Rethinking a Human Rights-based Approach (HRBA) in Security Sector Reform blog

Read the next in the series - Paper 2: Interpreting International Norms for a more Impactful Human Rights-based Approach (HRBA) in SSR

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ISSAT Gender and SSR Report (2016)

DCAF-ISSAT aims to incorporate gender sensitivity throughout its work. This report on gender and SSR in DCAF-ISSAT's work for 2016 highlights how we have incorporated gender aspects in:

  • our Member's national policy thinking
  • partner country thinking on their national security strategy 
  • programming 
  • training
  • advocacy and outreach
  • knowledge products
  • gender sensitive representation
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Police Reform in Northern Ireland

This presentation was delivered at the September 2013 Workshop on Police Reform and Development held in Tripoli by the Libyan Ministry of Interior and UNSMIL.

Briefly covers the build-up to the 'Troubles', the 1998 Belfast Agreement, application of possible lessons from Northern Ireland to the Libyan context, and a useful graphical overview of the reform process.

Also available in Arabic.

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ISSAT 2015 Interim Report

Interim Report

Read ISSAT's short interim report, to get updated on ISSAT’s activities and key highlights over the last few months.  A full Annual Report for 2015 will be sent out in early 2016.

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Common criminal-justice needs and related institutional factors

The table in this document provides an overview of frequently identified criminal justice needs, particularly in post-conflict and other fragile contexts, and typical institutional factors that account for why the actors directly cause the needs in question or why they do not meet these needs caused by others.

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Cartographie du soutien des bailleurs à la RSS au Mali (Rapport Final)

L'ISSAT, en coordination avec l'Allemagne, a développé une série de cartographies complètes relatives au soutien des bailleurs à la RSS au Mali. Celle-ci s'est penchée sur le système de justice pénale, incluant les mesures de transparence. Avec pour objectif de consolider les compétences allemandes en RSS, une équipe conjointe Allemagne-ISSAT a développé la méthodologie et réalisera les infographies.     

La méthodologie a été finalisée durant un séminaire d'un ou deux jours à Genève, et suivie par une phase de revue préparatoire et par des entretiens par téléphone, mettant à profit le réseau de l'ISSAT parmi les bailleurs bilatéraux et les acteurs multilatéraux. La réflexion se basera sur des ressources déjà existantes. Les résultats ont ensuite été consolidés au cours de deux missions terrain de dix jours dans chacun des pays qui inclura les bailleurs, les partenaires dans la mise en place de la RSS, ainsi que les institutions nationales des secteurs de la sécurité et de la justice, y compris les ministères correspondant. Les rapports ainsi produits ont été partagés par l'équipe conjointe Allemagne-ISSAT au bénéfice des acteurs de la communauté internationale présents dans ces pays à l'occasion d'un séminaire in situ qui a débouché sur des discussions sur la manière dont consolider le soutien international. 

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Research questions to develop CSO capacity in SSR

These are a set of questions which were used to help build CSO capacity to understand Timorese laws applicable to the security sector. 

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ZPSP - Narrative Report

Narrative Report doc

This narrative report explores how the ZPSP is fostering change in a context hostile to Security Sector Transformation (SST), and is part of the resources dedicated by ISSAT to the programme.

This document is part of the ISSAT Case Study on the Zimbabwe Peace and Security Programme (ZPSP)

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ISSAT 2012 Annual Report

Undoubtedly the highlight and challenge of 2012 was the organisation in Nairobi of the High Level Panel (HLP) on SSR in East Africa which brought together both policy makers and practitioners from the region and beyond. This high-visibility event gave ISSAT the opportunity to contribute to SSR in Africa, and to international SSR policy development.

With a slight increase in joint mandates and continuous support to long-term projects over the years, the pace of support to advisory services follows the trends noted throughout 2011. With changing political environments in North Africa, requests from Members have entailed mandates in new contexts and regions, as illustrated by the series of missions recently conducted to reinforce UNSMIL's SSR support in Libya. 2012 also saw two requests for advisory support in Somalia, showing the necessity of SSR processes in post-transitional stabilisation environments. Mandates have also led ISSAT to work in new environments, with current and upcoming missions taking place in Latin America. Having received 23 mandates and conducted 23 missions, it has once again been an extremely demanding and challenging year for ISSAT in the field of advisory support. The complexity of missions has grown significantly over the past 12 months, and the depth and variety of expertise required to support these effectively has considerably increased. To complement the capacity of core staff, the contribution of roster personnel has proven more essential than ever before.

Trends in the field of training have also evolved significantly in 2012...

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ZPSP - Lessons Identified

Lessons Identified doc

This document contains some twenty lessons identified by the ISSAT mission with the ZPSP, as part of the webpage dedicated to the programme. The lessons are organised broadly on process and on programme management.

This document is part of the ISSAT Case Study on the Zimbabwe Peace and Security Programme (ZPSP)

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ISSAT 2014 Annual Report

From the introduction:

Undoubtedly one of the highlights of 2014 was the Africa Forum on Security Sector Reform (SSR), entitled ‘SSR as a Key Component of Stabilisation and Peace-building Processes in Africa’, held in Addis Ababa, 24-26 November 2014.

With 63 mandates and activities undertaken in 2014, the demand for ISSAT services has remained constant. Of particular note is the strong focus on police and justice-related issues. Ten Advisory Support mandates and four Training mandates have focused on police and justice, in addition to the forthcoming ‘Policing and Police Reform’ e-learning course to be launched in 2015. ISSAT has also expanded its geographical reach, working for the first time in Gabon, Moldova, Pakistan and Sierra Leone.

Furthermore, more rigorous internal and financial procedures have been consolidated throughout the year, bringing even greater transparency and more effective project management and operational efficiency to ISSAT’s work.

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Combating Conflict-Related Sexual Violence

Following their presentations at the UN peacekeepers training in New Dehli in February 2018, ISSAT produced an A3 print-out aide memoire to help with remembering the key UN approach, background mandate, and measures to take to combat conflict-related sexual violence. 

You can access and download the infographic, Combating Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, by clicking on the link below. 

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UNMIL Timeline of Key Events 2003-2018


This infographic illustrates the timeline of events for UNMIL between 2003 and 2018. It was created to feature in ISSAT's report Lessons Identified From United Nations Mission in Liberia Support to Rule of Law which was produced as part our mandate Lessons Identification on the Work of UNMIL's Rule of Law Pillar

To view a larger version of the infographic, please click on the file below. 

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Developing a Theory of Change for Justice and Security Sector Reform in Honduras

ISSAT and Swedepeace had a standing engagement in Honduras since 2013 providing technical assistance to the Swiss Agency for Development and Corporation (SDC) and their partners in civil society Alliance for Peace and Justice (APJ), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Secretary of Security of Honduras (SEDS). The Swiss JSSR Team supported the SEDS in their strategic planning by training on and applying a theory of change (ToC). The ToC process was a timely tool for this exercise, as it provided an opportunity to internally reflect on their current planning process and how it will impact externally. The process also allowed for a common understanding for base line to be developed as well as the definition of a desired end-state.

Kindly find the mandate report attached. 

For more information on the mandate Backstopping Support to SDC Honduras (2016-18), kindly follow the link. 

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Monitoring ISSAT’s Commitment to Gender Equality - Pilot Report 2017

In 2018, ISSAT initiated a pilot case-study to demonstrate its commitment to gender equality during the 2017 reporting cycle. The purpose of the pilot report and the case study is to develop a model for internal monitoring of ISSAT’s gender-sensitive approach that would enable senior management to quality control our commitment to gender equality as well as select the most emblematic case studies for internal learning, public dissemination and reporting.

For ISSAT's report on Gender and SSR 2016, kindly follow the link. 

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Media & SSR – A Practical Note for Enhancing Reforms

This ISSAT note describes how media actors engaged in security issues must review their strategies and move beyond crisis messaging towards enhancing media capacity. Media actors should be perceived as Security Sector Reform partners and therefore participate in building a deep and objective understanding of security contexts and trends. It further suggests key entry-points for both media and security actors to address this challenge. 

For full access to Media & SSR – A Practical Note for Enhancing Reforms, please follow the link. 

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