Thematics in Practice
ISSAT keeps abreast of developments in related fields in order to continuously improve the SSR knowledge base from different angles. Delve into what we identify as the most relevant cross-cutting themes in the field, view compilations of resources that feed into current discussions and find out about our related advisory engagements and knowledge products. Share your insights and suggestions on cross-cutting themes with us via email
National Security Strategies or Policies (NSS/NSP) outline the national security concerns of a country, as well as the security needs of the population in order to create a framework in which these matters can be addressed by security providers in the most effective manner. Increasingly nowadays, these structures have begun to expand and include other key aspects that enhance the country’s ability to implement its security strategies, while strengthening its ownership. Delve into the eight areas identified by ISSAT as resurfacing in recent NSS/NSPs, and the entry points through which these can be incorporated into NSS/NSPs. This principle in practice page also gives various examples showcasing each of these characteristics.
Justice Reform is a necessary pillar of rule of law in a given political entity and in most cases it is a precondition for sustainable SSR. Discover the knowledge products exploring a variety of issues, from criminal justice system development, to customary justice and legal instruments for border cooperation. View a list of methodological tools, such as case studies and example lessons, as well as a selection of relevant ISSAT mandates in the field.
Defence reform is a challenge in any country. Four key objectives underlie defence reform: maintain appropriate, adequate, accountable and affordable defence forces. Making the defence sector a more inclusive and more representative sector is an additional objective of the defence reform.
The role of any police institution is law enforcement and protection of the community. In many contexts, particularly after conflict, police officers tend to be removed from the population, perceived to be perpetrators rather than service providers and assume a quasi-military role rather than a protection role. Most of the internationally supported police reform processes take place in post-conflict contexts and the challenge is almost always how to bridge the gap between the police and the community and how to bring back the police from a unique law-enforcement role, towards a more balanced community protection role.
Customary justice is a set of norms, laws and processes that have found legitimacy in a local culture which may not be ratified by formal statutory order. In the developing world, non-state entities are the main providers of justice, a fact supported by large scale studies by OECD and UNDP. Given their significance, customary justice practices cannot be ignored by practitioners in the design and implementation phases of any security sector reform initiative.
The media landscape has changed dramatically over the last two decades. There has been an unprecedented expansion of access to information. The modern news cycle allows for instant visibility of local events to a global audience and increased possibilities for citizen and civil society participation in the generation of news.
A Human Rights-based approach to SSR involves the application of Human Rights frameworks to the fundamental principles of security sector reform. Such an approach requires that local empowerment, national ownership, meaningful inclusion and accountability are central elements in programme implementation.
A fragile state is characterised by one or several of the following factors: a loss of physical control of the state in its territory, a weakened monopoly over the legitimate use of force, the inability to make collective decisions and provide basic public services, including mainly security and justice services. Security Sector Reform is a necessary transformative process that tackles shortcomings in the access to relevant and accountable security and justice services.
The prevention of violent conflict has traditionally been one of the core aims of SSR. SSR is seen as a means of progressively building resilient security and justice systems while addressing many of the root causes and drivers of conflict that stem from ineffective, poorly managed or unaccountable security and justice institutions.
Reintegration is the process through which former combatants become established in their communities and gain sustainable employment and income. It is a social and economic process with an open timeframe, primarily taking place at the community level. It is part of the general development of a country and a national responsibility that often requires long-term external assistance.
‘Cattle rustling’ has developed from a cultural or survival practice to a, now often, widespread and criminal activity. In some instances, there can be up-to a hundred raiders involved. Direct physical violence often accompanies the raids which is makes it an even bigger security problem. This has often been because of the spread of small arms and light weapons (SALW).
Causes and responses to Migration are deeply anchored in SSR. However, migration is recently being confused with forced displacement. This web page focuses on the distinction between these terms which are closely related. View the international norms and policy framework on migrants and refugees, knowledge products, recent resources and challenges for the international community.
Ongoing armed conflicts and armed violence cause worldwide displacement of people, leading many to seek protection in neighbouring countries as well as further away. As the recent refugee crises demonstrate, the effects of forced displacement on the security and justice responses of host countries is tremendous and provide many entry points for Security Sector Reform to improve the situation of the forcibly displaced.
The physical and mental health of individuals fall within the scope of SSR in post conflict environments as they are linked to societal processes of transitional justice, dealing with the past and memory. View or page with resources, knowledge products and tools which address these concepts and offer practical advice.
Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) has evolved as a major area among the international community to prevent, mitigate and prepare for risks such as natural hazards or pandemics. Risk factors are often linked to weak governance and lack of the security sector to manage a crisis. It is therefore fundamental to address security and justice sector reform and governance to increase prevention, mitigation strategies and preparedness.
The Covid-19 pandemic is a public health crisis which is changing the world as we know it today. Public health practitioners are at the forefront of response measures, but security and justice actors are in the middle of managing a crisis that has the potential to challenge socio-cultural dynamics, slow down the economy, reassess international relations and redefine political values and the role of the State and civil society.
States of Emergencies (SoEs) are constitutional (or equivalent) mechanisms invoked by governments during large scale crises that undermine social and political order. SoEs give governments extraordinary powers to address existential threats to public order, including war, political or civil unrest, criminal or terrorist violence, economic emergencies, diseases and natural disasters. SoE measures have been a critical part of the global response to COVID-19, allowing for the suspension of normal constitutional procedures for the government to regain control over the emergency.
The spread of the Covid-19 disease has forced many countries to adopt extraordinary legal measures aimed at addressing the pandemic and preventing its further spread. These measures vary from country to country but almost all of them have introduced strict limitations on the exercise of fundamental rights and sometimes have granted exceptional powers to security forces. Overall, most of the measures have been largely supported by populations around the world but there is rising concern around their scope, legality, necessity and proportionality, as well as their impact on human rights and livelihoods.
Livelihood is the basis of a sustainable society and for human security. Access to food, water, shelter and employment are all part of a sustainable livelihood, while food insecurity, conflicts, droughts and climate change are all factors that risks instability. The security sector, in most contexts has a clear mandate to safeguard people’s safety and security, including acting as a deterrent agent when it comes to security threats. Development and humanitarian-focussed programming typically tends to overlook the security sector, due to multiple factors related to each context.
We have produced two Thematic in Practice Pages on the subject: