Eleanor Gordon

Policy and Research Papers

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.


Poverty, Crime and Conflict: Socio-Economic Inequalities and the Prospects for Peace in Colombia


This blog article from Centre for Security Governance  features forthcoming research to be published in the journal State Crime and its forthcoming special edition which will address the theme “Post-Conflict Reconstruction, the Crimes of the Powerful and Transitional Justice” (to be published in April 2017).  

Poverty and socio-economic inequalities are inextricably linked with crime and conflict in Colombia. Unless they are addressed the current peace process will be unsuccessful and crime and insecurity will continue to afflict Colombia and its people, particularly the more vulnerable and marginalized. 

Read the full article on Poverty, Crime and Conflict: Socio-Economic Inequalities and the Prospects for Peace in Colombia


Marginalising Female Combatants after Conflict

Rarely in the scope of SSR do we address the shortcomings that prevail in westernised countries: This article by Australia's Lowy institute shows that prevailing attitudes around women's roles in the defence sector (internally and in wider society), continue to block translation of policy into practice when it comes to gender aspects of reform, both in Australia and further afield.

Research findings showed that arguments about a woman’s place and her skill-set, aptitude and interests are frequently used to justify women’s marginalisation in defence reform and post-reform defence structures. This is even though these arguments often lack substantive evidence or are challenged by reasoned debate.

To read the full Marginalising Female Combatants after Conflict  article, please follow the link.