Ideally, the goal of any SSR programme should be to satisfy the justice and security needs of the population, by delivering services which comply with international justice and security sector standards. In practice, however, two other critical sets of interests often have to be considered when designing and implementing SSR programmes: those of the senior leadership in the domestic justice and security institutions, and those of the donor that will fund the programme. All four of these sources of influence can play a critical role in the success of an SSR programme:
- The population’s needs: This should be the main focus of the assessment and design teams - What are the main justice and security needs of the population? What are the causes of the needs? Which actors are responsible for these needs? What could be done to respond to these needs?
- International standards: The international standards defined by treaties, customary law, or considered as best practices by the international community. These may even impose limits to the demands of the population (e.g.: there may be a demand for the death penalty for certain crimes)
- Domestic Institutions: The demands of the senior leadership of the domestic justice and security institutions, which may differ from the needs of the population, at least in terms of prioritisation. There will often be a direct relation between the level of democratic legitimacy of the government and the convergence between the ‘population’s needs’ and the ‘official interests of the leadership’ (the more legitimacy, the more convergence)
- Donors: The interests of the donor that will fund the programme (which may be influenced by a national political agenda)
- The need expressed by the people : ‘stop crimes and human rights abuses’
- The related international standards : an effective criminal chain respecting human rights standards (principle of innocence, respect for psychological and physical integrity, fair trial, prohibition of death penalty …)
- The demands of the domestic senior leadership of the police, justice and correction institutions: ‘there is no problem of integrity to tackle crime, we need more material resources (infrastructures, equipment, vehicles)’
- The demand of the donor: ‘address the fight against impunity, focus on certain crimes (SGBV), avoid working on prisons, avoid paying for vehicles and infrastructures’
From my experience, the programme to be designed should find the area of convergence between these four sources of influence, and consider it as a starting point.
The convergence between the demands of the three main stakeholders (people, leadership, and donor) and the international standards should offer a solid basis to consider a more ambitious programme; the final aim being to expand the area of convergence by bringing two components (donors and leadership demands) closer to the population needs and the international standards.
The international standards sphere can be far from the reality of the country, mainly in post conflict or fragile states, making it difficult to find a point of convergence with the three other spheres. Programmes should recognize that the bar is sometimes too high to be reached in the first jump, and that progress towards these standards can take time. However, these standards should remain an ideal end state. The path leading to that ideal should include concrete milestones, defined through a joined process involving the three main stakeholders (national authorities, people, and donors).