Case Studies

Sierra Leone: Local Policing Partnership Boards


Local Policing Partnership Boards (LPPBs) were established in each police division by the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) in 2002-2003 and were subsequently rolled out across the country. However, over recent years many of the LPPBs failed to thrive and in some cases their legitimacy was questioned due to poor representation of the communities they served. The SLP describe the LPPBs as “… part of the community policing strategy aimed at involving non-police stakeholders in security and crime prevention.”

To support and assist the police, the LPPBs draw on the participation of a range of locally based community service organisations, representatives of local business associations and, in some areas, representatives of traditional authorities.

Entry Point

The DFID funded Access to Security & Justice Programme (ASJP), works in support of a wide-ranging number of Government of Sierra Leone institutions, non-governmental organisations and community groups. Since its inception in 2011, ASJP acknowledged the importance of the LPPBs and has supported their further development. It’s first task was to more closely connect the LPPBs to other community groups involved with local security and justice provision, and to ensure better representivity, particularly of women, on the boards. Closer linkages were also developed with District Community Networks, many of whose activities were explicitly focused on juvenile justice, women’s rights, gender-based violence and child protection.

Lessons Identified

The LPPBs play an important role in a number of complimentary activities. They work closely with the SLP and local communities, whom they represent, to ensure more effective, appropriate and accountable delivery of policing services. They are also able to articulate local demand for specific security and justice services, whilst acting as a legitimate sounding board of local SLP performance. They also link into the national framework of discussions and consultation surrounding future legislation or guidance for the security and justice sector. Most importantly, their activities directly lead to improved relationships, understanding and trust between communities and local police.


ASJP support to the revival of the Local Police Partnership Boards and the work in publishing the LPPB guidelines booklet is acknowledged to have made a positive contribution to improved levels of community safety and security. Selected LPPBs are now able to develop preventive strategies and victim support initiatives in which the SLP and the various locally involved NGOs work together.  This has both improved individual levels of safety and security and perhaps as importantly, improved community safety and security perceptions. The local ownership, direction and empowerment of the LPPBs structures has been a vital ingredient of their success to date.

Selected Resources

Case Study

Liberia: Qualified successes in recruitment eroded by lack of sustainability


Following Charles Taylor’s exile in 2003, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) at Accra put an end to the large-scale, bloody 14-year civil conflict. The UN launched its largest peacekeeping operation at the time—UNMIL—responsible for providing general security as well as restructuring the civilian elements of the security sector as part of the SSR process mandated in the Accra Accords.

Given its historic ties to the Liberian state, the US took the lead in reforming the defence sector, thus sharing responsibilities with the UN for the SSR process. Given the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan at the time, along with USAID’s particular restrictions (it is prohibited from defence development), the Department of Defence and the Department of State were reluctant to intervene directly and decided to outsource its part of SSR to private military companies. The resulting Defence Sector Reform (DSR) is seen as a qualified success of SSR.

Entry points

The mission encompassed two aspects: a logistical, infrastructure-related objective, along with a more substantial project related to operational (rebuild the Armed Forces of Liberia, AFL) and institutional (create a new Ministry of Defence) levels of SSR, which formed the bulk of the DSR. [1] Its relatively limited goals of transforming the military sub-sector were in complement with UNMIL and other actors for the overarching reform of the Liberian security sector as a whole. The different phases of the mission involved the demobilisation of the old AFL, communicating and sensitizing on the new AFL, managing the recruitment and vetting processes and finally developing the Ministry of Defence.

The whole approach was based on a particular understanding of Liberia’s security, which located the main threats in internal dangers arising from failures of development, such as crime, insurrection, or poverty, rather than in interstate conventional military threats. Adopting the human security paradigm led to envisioning the creation of a limited army of around 2,000 soldiers as the core objective of the project. The character of this envisioned army, notably the integration of civic and literacy classes, its ethnic balance, and the inclusion of women also reflected this human security understanding.


The DSR resulted in the complete demobilisation of the old AFL, consisting of 13,500 members, at a cost of USD 15 Million. Part of the success of the demobilisation lied in treating the members of the army as soldiers rather than criminals, and in “retiring” them with some state recognition. This diminished grounds for grievance, while asserting the state’s presence and prerogatives.

The subsequent creation of the new AFL began with a country-wide communication campaign. The combination of sensitisation on the non-threatening and inclusive nature of the new army, aimed at the general population, and necessary given the recent history of abuse and terror in the country, with a message for recruitment purposes posed some problems and diminished the efficacy of both. The following step of recruitment involved considerable preparation to be able to reach beyond Monrovia itself. The final result was a minimally literate army which, although skewed towards the capital, still included members from all regional and ethnic backgrounds in considerable proportions.

Preventing the enlistment of individuals involved in war crimes and grave abuses of human rights in the new army was ensured via a careful vetting process. To be able to confront the lack of reliable information on individuals, typical in a post-conflict country, the process combined three complementary methods (background checks, records checks, and public vetting). It was conducted by a panel independent of the implementing partner, composed of two Liberians as well as a US Embassy official. All in all, the AFL went from being a security consumer and one of the causes of the civil war to being a security provider. It is now seen as a representative small army that accommodates women, and is capable of successfully integrating in peacekeeping missions (Mali 2013).

Lessons Identified

1. SSR should take into account the conditions that each country faces. Importing ready-made models is not an adequate approach; rather, the security sector should reflect the needs of the country. In Liberia, much was to be rebuilt “from scratch” following the 14-year civil war, and the greater freedom in devising and implementing DSR was appropriately used. Consideration of the specific threats facing the country and of its capacity to pay salaries – an essential planning constraint given the danger posed by unpaid, disgruntled soldiers - thus led to the development of a limited national army. 

2. A crucial aspect in building security forces lies in an adequate admissions process. Appropriately vetting the candidates to the AFL was essential to manage spoilers and check backgrounds thoroughly. Given the sensitivities involved in rebuilding an armed force in a post-conflict country, communication towards the population on the processes in place and inclusiveness in planning and engaging are important and need to be backed by great care on the selection process. Successfully vetting the applicants is essential, lest the entire DSR or SSR program is undermined. More generally, “training and equipping”, relatively straightforward provided the financing follows, is alone not sufficient for successful SSR, and other aspects such as local inclusion are essential.

3. The different objectives pursued in SSR at times contradict each other, and prioritising and sequencing among the different objectives are in such cases essential. For example, turning over the vetting records, valuable information on individuals in a country characterised by a lack of reliable archives or documents, can advance transitional justice. Yet it can also entail reprisal against witnesses, and hinder the completion of the new AFL. In the case of Liberia, security was prioritised as a precondition to development, and only later were the records handed over to the government for justice purposes and to highlight that the new AFL was untainted. Similarly, rates of literacy diverged across ethnic groups. The requirement of literacy was thus lowered for some of them in order to favour ethnic inclusiveness, while a literacy program was included into the training in order to mitigate the challenge.

4. The original successes of training and recruitment were not sustainable over the long-term, especially with the departure of the outsourced privates military company. See Steffen, and Welken, for further insight.

Selected Resources

[1] Pacific Architects & Engineers (PA&E) was the private military company responsible for former objective, and DynCorp for the latter.

Case Study


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.


SSR in a Nutshell: Level 1 Training Manual

SSR in a Nutshell: Manual for Introductory Training on Security Sector Reform

This manual complements ISSAT’s Introductory Level 1 Security Sector Reform Training Course. It aims to provide a basic overview of Security Sector Reform (SSR) policy and practice based on collective experience in supporting security and justice reform efforts.

The manual is built around four key pillars of SSR:

Section one: The Concept of SSR

This section discusses SSR as a concept, explains its evolution and theoretical foundations and provides definitions of key terms. It also highlights some key characteristics of SSR.

Section two: Key Security and Justice Actors

This section maps the main security and justice actors at both the national and international level and proceeds to discuss coordination among these actors when engaging in SSR.

Section three: SSR Programming

This section elaborates the various stages of the SSR programme cycle, and addresses various challenges—both political and technical—that could arise when engaging in SSR programming.

Section four: Cross-Cutting Issues

This section reviews important thematic and practical aspects of SSR that are often overlooked, including gender issues, human rights and programme management. It also discusses issues closely related to SSR, such as Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR), Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) control and Transitional Justice (TJ).

This manual provides an overview of the theoretical background and key practical insights needed to engage in SSR programming, setting out the main principles but also highlighting various challenges that could arise when engaging in SSR. For those who have completed the ISSAT Level 1 Introductory Training Course, as well as those getting involved in SSR policy and programming for the first time, this textbook will remain a useful reference.

SSR in a Nutshell in FrenchSSR in a Nutshell in Spanish and SSR in a Nutshell in Arabic are also available.


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.


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.


Policy and Research Papers

A Common Approach for Building International Capacity to Support SJSR

"A Common Approach for Building International Capacity to Support SJSR" is the title of ISSAT's second High Level Panel (HLP), organised on May 19th, 2011. ISSAT hosted its HLP discussion in Brussels, Belgium with the focus on the increasing need for establishing the right balance of technical, methodological and contextual expertise within SSR interventions.

The basis for the HLP topic was the recognition that the number of SSR mandates within Peace Support Operations (PSO) and crisis management operations has increased over the past years. In parallel, the demand for SSR and rule of law advisors who combine specialist knowledge with a solid understanding of the politics involved in reform processes has increased.

At present, many bilateral and multilateral donors face serious capacity gaps when it comes to having readily-available and deployable personnel with SSR experience and expertise. Security and justice reform requires a multi-disciplinary response: it requires personnel with an understanding of the political nature of SSR and the importance of accountability to a legitimate authority, coupled with those who have a technical understanding of how, for example, a police service, the military, the courts system and the various ministries function.

The panel who addressed these issues were:

  • Mr. Richard Wright, Director Conflict Prevention & Security Policy, European External Action Service (EEAS)
  • Mr. Cedric de Coning, Advisor to ACCORD and NUPI and Author of the Study on Civilian Capacities within the Non-governmental Civilian Roster Community
  • Mr Mika-Markus Leinonen, Director, Civcom Chair, European External Action Service (EEAS) 
  • General Juan Estaban (by video), Former Head of the EU SSR Mission in Guinea Bissau

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.


Other Documents

Final report of the European Association of Peace Operations Training Centres (EAPTC) annual meeting 2014

The annual meeting of the European Association of Peace Operations Training Centres (EAPTC) was organised by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the International Security Sector Advisory Team of the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF/ISSAT) from 12-13 March 2014, in Stans, Switzerland. The meeting brought together over 40 participants from various European training institutions.

The meeting provided members the opportunity to share information on their ongoing and planned activities. The main focus of the meeting was to discuss lessons learned and challenges in the design and delivery of Peace Support Operations (PSO) trainings.

Other Document

German SSR support in practice in Nigeria

This paper documents good practice evidence from German SSR activities in Nigeria. Major German involvement in support to SSR is relatively new, and has tended to focus on train and equip approaches. The examples of German support to SSR included here may not involve full-fledged reform processes, they may, however, provide an insight into some good practices from the ground that could be used as entry points for wider SSR engagement and strategic Security Sector Governance reform.

Other Document

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
Other Document

Soutien RSS allemand en pratique au Mali

L’engagement de l’Allemagne en soutien aux processus de la RSS dans des pays tiers est relativement nouveau et se base principalement sur des approches de formation et équipement. Les exemples ci-dessous du soutien de l’Allemagne à la RSS au Mali ne constituent pas tout à fait des programmes RSS tel qu’entendu par l’OCDE CAD. Toutefois, les activités ci-dessous représentent des exemples intéressants de bonne pratique à partager au sein de la communauté RSS. Ce papier traite des aspects de confiance, d’approche inclusive, et de coordination. 

Other Document

Training course on "Security Sector Governance and Reform (SSG/R) contribution to Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE)"

Course Description
This course provides participants with knowledge and practical tools to better understand the drivers (root causes and triggers) of violent extremism in contexts of fragility. It includes a strong component on the security and development nexus and covers dimensions related to human security, access to justice and community violence reduction (CVR). It also touches upon the holistic nature of SSG/R, including sessions on policing, national security strategy, relations with the media and strategic communication in contexts of VE.
The course was developed acknowledging that significant improvements must be made in prioritising interventions that address the structural causes and aggravating factors that create insecurity, marginalisation, and grievances. It is in this context that the crucial role of SSG/R becomes most apparent.

Learning methodology
The course will use interactive and peer-learning activities while adopting a problem-solving approach through a series of case studies, hands-on practical exercises, simulations and group activities to help participants understand the challenges related to SSG/R in practice. An inductive approach is used in every session of the course in order to place participants at the centre of the training.

Benefits of attending
The course will enable you to:

  • Understand the drivers (root causes and triggers) of violent extremism within the context of conflict and fragility.
  • Identify and prioritise the drivers which can be managed and mitigated through SSG in the short and long term.
  • Explore and apply options for change in improving security and justice service delivery.
  • Enhance individual and collective competence in applying integrated thinking on SSG/R contribution to address violent extremism.

Who should attend
The course will target senior practitioners and professionals – including civilian, military and police personnel, as well as civil society representatives and professionals from the private sector – who are working closely on issues related to SSG/R and violent extremism such as governance, rule of law, police reform, defence reform, justice reform, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration. The course also targets those involved in programme design, management and implementation, mission planning and delivery and/or in political/policy dialogues.
DCAF-ISSAT is commited to selecting diverse participants in terms of professional and organisational background, age and nationality, as well as gender balance.

Other Document