Local Ownership

View this 8 minute video with Eric Van der Veen, former Policy Analyst with OECD-INCAF, discussing Local Ownership in Security Sector Reform

Local ownership is one of the cornerstones of security and justice reform programmes. It is a well-established fact that regular political level discussions and engagement lead to greater ownership of the reform process. At the same time, ensuring the much needed local ownership can be a daunting task and a challenge for donor countries and institutions. Even if there is interest, it is often not easy to maximise local ownership when there is little or no organisational capacity to execute and bring the necessary players to the table.

UN Security Council Resolution 2151 (2014) is a milestone in establishing the importance of national ownership in security and justice reform processes. It builds upon the headway already made in the New Deal calling for donor states to use in-country mechanisms as the main vehicle for establishing participatory assessments, programmes and reviews.

Lesson 1 - Maximise use of participatory approaches

Lesson 2 - Invest in local and regional networks

Erwin Van Veen on Local Ownership

As former Policy Analyst on Peace and Security at OECD-INCAF, Erwin Van Veen discusses approaches to Local Ownership in this 8 minute long video interview. 

Selected resources

Lesson 1 - Maximise use of participatory approaches

Use of participatory approaches encourages engagement across a broad range of local stakeholders. Adopting inclusive approaches is important not just to develop strong locally owned programmes, but also make way for greater participation from national partners.


The small grants scheme in Albania is part of the “Swedish support to the Ministry of Interior (MoI)/Albanian State Police (ASP) on Community Policing (SACP)” programme. Committees have been set up in five locations in Albania, comprising representatives from local government, regional education directorates, the police, parents’ boards, minority community representatives, Youth Councils etc. These committees can award small grants (up to the value of 5,000 Euro) to individuals, NGOs or consortiums to implement grassroots projects that improve the relationship and cooperation between young people, minority communities and the police. More information available in Victoria Walker’s blog here.

A Internal Security Sector Review (ISSR) was undertaken in Kosovo in 2005-6 to help define security needs and analyse the institutional capacity required to address threats via a consultative process involving local experts and citizens. The ISSR has been one of the most ambitious and holistic efforts at SSR undertaken in recent years, in both scope and methodology

The programme focuses on the development of community policing and informal policing systems, resulting in 6,440 officers, working in 129 divisions, being trained in community policing roles and community safety partnerships being formed in pilot divisions. 

Voz di Paz is the local partner of Interpeace in Guinea-Bissau. The programme aims to make a tangible contribution to the consolidation of peace and stability in Guinea-Bissau, as key pre-requisites for sustainable post-conflict development. Given the difficult background the area suffered from, Interpeace and Voz di Paz build activities around addressing the root causes through strategies that engage a range of actors from ordinary citizens to influential actors throughout the country. 

The Netherlands pioneered a triangulation rapport between civil society (including academics), donor and state institutions of reform interventions in the Technical Assistance Program in Indonesia (2000-2005) with the IMF. This method has helped in formulating well articulated and sustainable programmes that have strong ownership.

The "Swedish support to the Ministry of Interior (MOI)/Albanian State Police (ASP) on Community policing (SACP)" programme adopted an inclusive approach to encourage Albanian ownership and engagement during its design and implementation. That the composition of the project implementation team is largely Albanian, including the manager, further helps stakeholders view the programme as largely being a locally owned process. Debriefing sessions where findings of reports are presented also serve as entry points to ownership, participation among relevant stakeholders. In addition, working with local interlocutors during the draft process of reports can allow for greater involvement and participation in reform programmes.

Lesson 2 - Invest in local and regional networks

Several lessons-identified reports emphasised the importance of tapping into the resources of existing local and regional networks to promote security and justice priorities, and encouraging networks to develop where there are common interests. Existing networks could be called upon, not just for a better understanding of the context and share expertise, but also to help in the implementation of reform programmes. In addition, using locally appropriate terminology can be useful to re-frame JSSR programmes and eschews suggestions of foreign interference allowing local stakeholders to take the lead.


Established by the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) following the collapse of the country in the 1990s, LPPBs have proven themselves a transformative instrument in increasing trust, participation, and successful policing under the banner of “local needs’ policing.” This January 2015 brief by the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) summarizes lessons learned from the experience of LPPBs in the country. 

For information on a related issue, see also Policing Nigeria: A case for partnership between formal and informal police institutions.

Community Safety Partnerships have been a measure of preventing, reducing and containing the social and environmental intimidation. Threats of a social and environmental nature impacts the quality of people's lives, damages the social fabric and trust within a community, and put a burden on policing services. Community Safety Partnerships have delivered local solutions to local problems by working with local people to establish institutional and organisational coordination and implementing mechanisms.

Building on a decade of capacity building training programmes and joint programming for the military and civil society in the Philippines, a new initiative creates a permanent forum for civil society-military-police coordination and civil society oversight of the security sector. Launched in 2011, the Bantay Bayanihan forum institutionalized the goodwill that began with the 2010 formulation of the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) that included strong participation from civil society groups.