Stability: International Journal of Security & Development is a fundamentally new kind of journal. Open-access, it publishes research quickly and free of charge in order to have a maximal impact upon policy and practice communities. It fills a crucial niche. Despite the allocation of significant policy attention and financial resources to a perceived relationship between development assistance, security and stability, a solid evidence base is still lacking.
Research in this area, while growing rapidly, is scattered across journals focused upon broader topics such as international development, international relations and security studies. Accordingly, Stability's objective is to:
Foster an accessible and rigorous evidence base, clearly communicated and widely disseminated, to guide future thinking, policymaking and practice concerning communities and states experiencing widespread violence and conflict.
The journal will accept submissions from a wide variety of disciplines, including development studies, international relations, politics, economics, anthropology, sociology, psychology and history, among others. In addition to focusing upon large-scale armed conflict and insurgencies, Stability will address the challenge posed by local and regional violence within ostensibly stable settings such as Mexico, Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia and elsewhere.
Policy and Research Papers
Reviewing the Justice and Security Hub Modality as Piloted in Liberia
‘The Republic of Bangui’ or ‘the Republic of Monrovia’ are phrases we sometimes hear from practitioners to describe post conflict countries where very few services exist outside the capital city. This is especially the case for security – the critical public good in post conflict countries. In response to the need to bring security services closer to the citizens who often need them most, the Government of Liberia and the United Nations are piloting a new approach financed by the UN Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) – the so-called ‘Justice and Security Hubs’. The donor community and the United Nations are watching closely. If this works, there is indication from UN officials that the model could potentially be replicated in other settings such as the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Haiti and the northern states of South Sudan. If the hub concept is capable of being adapted and successful elsewhere, the United Nations will not only have added a new instrument to its peacekeeping toolkit but will also firmly demonstrate how the UN Peacebuilding Fund can in essence be catalytic in fostering long-term and comprehensive approaches to peacebuilding. This practice note outlines the process of developing and constructing the first hub in Liberia, which is due to be partly operational by the end of 2012, and provides a prognosis on its chances for success.
Interim Stabilisation in Fragile Security Situations
For more than two decades a conventional approach to security promotion has been widely applied by multilateral and bilateral agencies during war-to-peace transitions. Advocates of this approach typically recommend a combination of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) and security sector reform (SSR) to consolidate peace-making and peace-building processes (Colletta et al 2009, Muggah 2006). Notwithstanding the broad acceptance of such activities – and the theory that underlies them – there is little evidence that such interventions have contributed to any enduring solution to conflict and fragility (Muggah 2009). Indeed, analysts have come to recognise that the political, economic and social pre-conditions for DDR and SSR – including a relatively functional government, a reasonably stable labour market and a minimum level of social trust – are seldom in place. Even when these ambitious pre-requisites have been achieved, it is not clear that they are sufficient for DDR and SSR to take hold. Nevertheless, these orthodoxies persist in security promotion policy and practice.
Slip-Sliding on a Yellow Brick Road: Stabilization Efforts in Afghanistan
The ongoing transition process in Afghanistan will deliver three shocks in the coming few years: foreign forces will complete the handover of security responsibility to their Afghan counterparts, aid volumes and international spending in the country will decrease and, lastly, the political dispensation will be upended by presidential elections in which President Hamid Karzai is not supposed to run again. These challenges are mounting at a time when, due to inconsistent international approaches and a lack of appreciation for the Afghan context, Afghanistan is dealing with rising insecurity, dysfunctional governance, rampant corruption, and ethnic factionalization within the society and the domestic security forces. Based upon a review of the security sector, governance, social and economic conditions, regional relations and negotiation efforts with the insurgents, this article finds that fundamental questions about the efficacy of stabilization efforts in Afghanistan continue to lack clear answers. Regardless, significant room for improvement – both in policy and execution – appears to exist. It remains to be seen whether, as many Afghans fear, a civil war will engulf Afghanistan once again in the post-transition period or whether the international community will take those steps – re-energizing governance reform efforts, maintaining financial support and continuing to strengthen the Afghan army and police – which could help to bolster stability.
Sahel State Political Violence in Comparative Perspective
Policy, media and academic attention on violence in the Sahel region has been widespread since the onset of the Arab Spring, and the escalating violence in recent months in Mali. This research explores the nature, patterns and dynamics of this violence in regional and national comparative perspective, contrasting divergent dynamics of violence both within and across the region. Data is drawn from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Dataset (ACLED), which facilitates analysis of both contemporary and historical patterns. Regional characteristics of Sahelian violence are highlighted, which underscore a relatively low level of violence in the region as a whole, with increases in conflict levels largely driven by the single case of Mali in recent months. Detailed analysis of specific groups and actor types reveal important intra-regional discrepancies which have been largely obscured by characterisations of a regional, trans-national crisis. Together, these observations point to the need to interrogate narratives of regional dynamics which may conceal important national and even sub-national variations and drivers of political violence.
The Two Faces of Security in Hybrid Political Orders: A Framework for Analysis and Research
The paper examines ‘security’ and ‘development’ in a hybrid context, combining different theoretical interpretations to frame these as highly contested concepts that involve both conflict and collaboration between state and non-state actors and ideas. These are then analyzed from a bottom-up perspective, focusing on three political spaces to observe how so-called “end-users” view security in such a contested order. The paper concludes by identifying new research challenges for applying the “end-user” lens to security and development at the national, regional and international levels.
Violence in Yemen: Thinking About Violence in Fragile States Beyond the Confines of Conflict and Terrorism
This article examines the different forms of criminal violence that affect fragile states, with special reference to Yemen. The article is particularly interested in analysing the relationship between violent offending with no clear political motive, underdevelopment and conflict. It does so by conducting an in-depth evaluation of conflict and crime in Yemen, using publicly accessible data to suggest new ways of understanding violent criminal behaviour in Yemen and elsewhere. This article is written in response to a prioritisation of political violence, insurgency and terrorism in international development and stabilisation strategies, which has emerged alongside the broad securitisation of international aid. Common forms of criminal violence have been overlooked in a number of fragile contexts, as they have been in Yemen. In light of rising levels of insecurity, resulting from poor relationships between the state and its citizens, there is a need to re-evaluate this unstated omission if the new Yemeni Government is to gain increased legitimacy by being seen to prioritise the protection of its citizens.
Violent Conflicts and Civil Strife in West Africa: Causes, Challenges and Prospects
The advent of intra-state conflicts or ‘new wars’ in West Africa has brought many of its economies to the brink of collapse, creating humanitarian casualties and concerns. For decades, countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea- Bissau were crippled by conflicts and civil strife in which violence and incessant killings were prevalent. While violent conflicts are declining in the sub-region, recent insurgencies in the Sahel region affecting the West African countries of Mali, Niger and Mauritania and low intensity conflicts surging within notably stable countries such as Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal sends alarming signals of the possible re-surfacing of internal and regional violent conflicts. These conflicts are often hinged on several factors including poverty, human rights violations, bad governance and corruption, ethnic marginalization and small arms proliferation. Although many actors including the ECOWAS, civil society and international community have been making efforts, conflicts continue to persist in the sub-region and their resolution is often protracted. This paper posits that the poor understanding of the fundamental causes of West Africa’s violent conflicts and civil strife would likely cause the sub-region to continue experiencing and suffering the brunt of these violent wars.
Security Sector Reform, Local Ownership and Community Engagement
Local ownership is widely considered to be one of the core principles of successful Security Sector Reform (SSR) programmes. Nonetheless, there remains a gap between policy and practice. This article examines reasons for this gap, including concerns regarding limited capacity and lack of expertise, time and cost constraints, the allure of quantifiable results and quick wins, and the need to ensure that other principles inherent to SSR are not disregarded. In analysing what is meant by local ownership, this article will also argue that, in practice, the concept is narrowly interpreted both in terms of how SSR programmes are controlled and the extent to which those at the level of the community are actively engaged. This is despite policy guidance underscoring the importance of SSR programmes being inclusive and local ownership being meaningful. It will be argued that without ensuring meaningful and inclusive local ownership of SSR programmes, state security and justice sector institutions will not be accountable or responsive to the needs of the people and will, therefore, lack public trust and confidence. The relationship between the state and its people will be weak and people will feel divorced from the decisions that affect their security and their futures. All this will leave the state prone to further outbreaks of conflict. This article will suggest that the requisite public confidence and trust in state security and justice sector institutions, and ultimately, the state itself, could be promoted by SSR programmes incorporating community safety structures.
A Case Study of Counter Violent Extremism (CVE) Programming: Lessons from OTI’s Kenya Transition Initiative
Between 2011 and 2014 the USAID Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI)’s Kenya Transition Initiative implemented what was essentially a pilot program of the new Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) concept. Aiming to counter the drivers of ‘violent extremism’ (VE), this operated through a system of small grants funding activities such as livelihood training, cultural events, community debates on sensitive topics, counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder, and so on. This paper delivers lessons from the program, generated via an independent evaluation, offering insights of relevance to the broader CVE community of practitioners. A first overarching conclusion is that programming decisions would have benefitted from a more comprehensive understanding of VE in the local context. For instance, subsets of the population more narrowly ‘at-risk’ of being attracted to VE should have been identified and targeted (e.g. potentially teenagers, ex-convicts, members of specific clans, and so on), and a greater focus should have been placed upon comprehending the relevance of material incentives, fear, status-seeking, adventure-seeking, and other such individual-level drivers. A second conclusion is that the KTI team would have profited from additional top-level guidance from their donors, for instance, providing direction on the extent to which efforts should have been targeted at those supportive of violence versus those directly involved in its creation, the risks associated with donor branding, and contexts in which the pejorative term ‘extremism’ should have been pragmatically replaced by neutral terminology. As a priority donors and the wider community should also provide suitable definitions of the CVE concept, rather than leaving practitioners to construe (undoubtedly inconsistently) it’s meaning from the available definitions of VE.
The Implementation of Police Reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Analysing UN and EU Efforts
This document analyses the role of the main international actors involved in the implementation of police reform in post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina, notably that of the UN and the EU. Despite considerable efforts and resources deployed over 17 years, the implementation of police reform remains an ‘unfinished business’ that demonstrates the slow pace of implementing rule of law reforms in Bosnia’s post-conflict setting, yet, in the long-term, remains vital for Bosnia’s stability and post-conflict reconstruction process. Starting with a presentation of the status of the police before and after the conflict, UN reforms (1995–2002) are first discussed in order to set the stage for an analysis of the role of the EU in the implementation of police reform. Here, particular emphasis is placed on the institution-building actions of the EU police mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina deployed on the ground for almost a decade (2003-June 2012). The article concludes with an overall assessment of UN and EU efforts in post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the remaining challenges encountered by the EU on the ground, as the current leader to police reform implementation efforts. More generally, the article highlights that for police reform to succeed in the long-term, from 2012-onwards, the EU should pay particular attention to the political level, where most of the stumbling blocks for the implementation of police reform lie.