Center for Strategic and International Studies

For 50 years, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has developed practical solutions to the world’s greatest challenges. Today’s global landscape presents strategic opportunities that will define our future. As we celebrate this milestone, CSIS scholars are developing strategic insights and bipartisan policy solutions to help decision makers chart a course toward a better world.

CSIS is a bipartisan, nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Center’s 220 full-time staff and large network of affiliated scholars conduct research and analysis and develop policy initiatives that look into the future and anticipate change.

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Revisiting Security Sector Reform in Liberia

As Liberians prepare for the October 2011 elections, the implications of lingering insecurity and mixed results from security sector reform initiatives weigh heavily on their minds. Have former combatants (particularly rebel groups and militias) been effectively demobilized and rehabilitated? Are Liberia?s new security forces (military and police) adequately prepared to address current and emerging threats?


Formulating National Security Strategy

A panel of experts discusses and makes recommendations for the strategy forming process overall. The formulation process is notably important since it determines which issues will be raised and how they are elevated, who participates in the decision making, and how results will be communicated.

Strategies are shaped by the processes that produce them. If designed well, a strategy formulation process enables decision makers to evaluate the political, security, and budgetary environments, identify choices for an organisation, weigh risks, opportunities, and trade-offs, and determine the best way forward. A strategy formulation process determines which issues will be raised for decision, how issues are elevated to senior levels, what options are presented, who participates in the decision making, and how the results are communicated both internally and externally.


National Security Strategy Lessons for Africa

Larry Gbevlo-Lartey, Director of the Special Representative for Counter-Terrorism Cooperation, presents a series of National Security Strategy lessons for Africa, in particular that a NSS should always consist of a whole of society approach.


Policy and Research Papers

Building Police Institutions in Fragile States - Case Studies from Africa

The police are one of the most critical institutions of the state. This is particularly true in nations emerging from conflict, which are characterized by insecurity and high levels of crime. Without security, governments cannot begin rebuilding their economies and improving the lives of their citizens. As a result, they will continue to struggle for legitimacy, and a return to conflict will remain an ever-present risk. For citizens, a police officer is the symbolic representation of state authority. Their view of the state and their acceptance of its authority are partially shaped by their interactions with the police.

Unfortunately, many Africans have entirely negative perceptions of the police. In many countries, the police are ineffective, unprofessional, corrupt, even predatory. Their primary interest is in protecting the government in power rather than serving the public. They are often sources of insecurity rather than providers of security—people to avoid, not to seek out, in the event of trouble. For other African citizens, particularly those living outside urban areas, the police are conspicuous by their absence. Many, perhaps the majority, of Africans rely on non-state security providers such as neighborhood watch groups and chiefdom police to keep them safe.

The aim of this report is to look at what the United States has been doing to help reform or transform the police in three African states: Liberia, Sierra Leone, and South Sudan. It provides recommendations of what could be done better, or differently, based on an assumption that the federal budget for overseas policing will remain small. The findings are based on meetings with policymakers and other experts in Washington, D.C., as well as interviews with program implementers, government officials, police, and civil society representatives in all three countries.

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Fixing Iraq's Internal Security Forces: Why is reform of the Ministry of Interior so hard?

This paper examines the charge laid out in the US Marine Corps General Jim Jones report, explains why institution building and reform at the MOI have proved so difficult, and notes flaws in the international capacity building effort that need to be addressed. The central argument is that Iraq’s political dynamics, combined with the unprecedented burdens being placed upon the MOI, will continue to make institutional development and reform terribly difficult. However, assessments such as the Jones report ignore the fact that the ministry is more functional than it may at first appear. Furthermore, there are signs of incipient, MOI-led reforms; these provide hopeful pointers. In order to take advantage of these incipient reforms, the international assistance effort needs to significantly raise its game. If this can be achieved, then, gradually and painfully, the ministry could become a more positive force in Iraqi society. However, even if technical institutional reforms are successful, it will be important to understand that the ministry will reflect Iraq’s political make-up; it cannot stand above national politics.


The Civil Challenges to Peace in Afghanistan

This report addresses the apparent failure of the peace process to focus on creating a stable post conflict state. It states that the afghan government faces a set of civil challenges which are as serious as the challenges of creating a functioning peace with the Taliban.

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Politics at the Heart of the Crisis in the Sahel

The governments of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger are ill-equipped to confront the worsening security crisis in the region. Their approach to these challenges has been insufficient at best and counterproductive at worst.   In contrast to its counterparts in Burkina Faso and Niger, Mali’s political class is doing the bare minimum to respond to the conflict. Though the government faces some domestic pressure to address insecurity, it may believe there is an unacceptable political cost to doing more.  The international community should work to reshape Mali’s domestic political calculus to promote a more robust response. It should continue its security partnerships, especially with Burkina Faso and Niger, to address capacity shortfalls and reduce incidents of human rights violations.

For full access to the paper Politics at the Heart  of the Crisis in the Sahel, kindly follow the link. 


Other Documents

Innovative Approaches to Security and Justice Programming

The Overseas Development Insitute (ODI) hosted a series of seminars to discuss key conceptual and practical issues related to security and justice programming. The series was held in 2014 and 2015 and hosted international experts on several security related issues. The events promoted debates and knowledge sharing that aim to increase the practice and the programming in the security sector.

The Security and Justice seminar series provided the opportunity for regular meetings among the security and justice community of practice, helping to build stronger connections, relationships and shared knowledge, in turn supporting better programming. The seminars served to promote knowledge and information sharing relevant to security and justice policy, programming and research.

The initiative brought together practitioners, policy makers and researchers involved in the fields of security, policing, justice, rule of law and military security. Attendees included representatives from government agencies, implementing partners, individual consultants, NGOs, research institutes and universities.

This article on Innovative Approaches to Security and Justice Programming by Isabella Flisi provides a short summary of two out of the six conferences.

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Broadening Constituencies for Transitional Justice and Elevating the Focus on Historical Grievance

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) hosted a meeting entitled “Broadening Constituencies for Transitional Justice + Elevating the Focus on Historical Grievance: Step One” in Mexico City, Mexico, in December 2015. Supported by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Oak Foundation, the meeting brought together 30 leading experts on transitional justice (TJ), as well as representatives from development agencies and foreign ministries, to discuss strategies for addressing shortfalls in the international community’s approach to TJ. The meeting was grounded in the recognition that the way in which countries deal with violent episodes from their past can emerge as a driver of future conflict and undermine development and democratization.

This report on transitional justice and the focus on historical grievance by Shannon N. Green from the CSIS highlights the main findings and recommendations from the meeting for elevating TJ and broadening constituencies for justice.

For full access to the report on Broadening Constituencies for Transitional Justice and Elevating the Focus on Historical Grievance, kindly follow the link.

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