Research on security sector reform (SSR) has rapidly grown over the last years, and numerous academic books and articles, case studies, ‘lessons learned’, and recommendations now enrich this burgeoning literature. Nevertheless, very few studies have investigated whether and how policy practitioners have used such research to develop and implement SSR policies in fragile, conflict-affected countries.
Drawing from interviews conducted with policy advisers and researchers who worked on SSR in Sierra Leone from 1998 to 2013, the article “The influence of research and local knowledge on British-led security sector reform policy in Sierra Leone”, recently published in Conflict, Security & Development, focuses on the ways in which research has influenced and interacted with British-led SSR policy in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone has often been considered as one of the first and successful examples of externally-led SSR. While most of the conditions that contributed to this success are unique and hardly replicable in other fragile, conflict-affected countries or in current, multilateral post-war recovery efforts, findings from the article highlight nonetheless several issues and themes pertaining to the use of research in SSR policy.