Case Studies

Case studies provide excellent insight into the practical challenges of SSR initiatives and provide an opportunity to learn from those that have been successful, and not so successful.  They help us to see the patterns of good practice, when to apply different approaches and what pitfalls to avoid.  Please add your own case studies to help us build a rich repository of examples from real experience.

Developing an inception phase for an SSR programme in Yemen

Developing an inception phase for an SSR programme in Yemen


In 1994, Yemen finally achieved unification and began the process of modernising its government structures and activities. Although results are being achieved, the process is slow, the justice and security system in Yemen is weak, and linkages within the sector are in need of further development. Violence and disorder remain problematic in various regions throughout the country, as large areas do not have either a police or a judicial presence. It is estimated that over 80% of all judicial and security services are provided by non-state actors. Access to justice and safety for marginalised and excluded social groups is also poor in many areas.

Entry point

The government of Yemen requested international donor support for their ongoing justice and security development activities. Over the course of 12 months, an international and national multidisciplinary team — including security, judicial, prison, governance, and public administration practitioners, along with an anthropologist and legal sociologist — went on a series of missions to Yemen to develop a one-year inception phase assistance programme. As a result of this assessment, the inception phase activities will focus on a police management support programme to assist government planning, performance evaluation, and local police station problem-solving initiatives, while judicial support is to concentrate on providing concrete assistance with information management, particularly with regard to enhancing judicial inspections and court administration. The third element of the support programme is attempting to establish a social fund for justice, whose activities would seek to improve access to justice for all, particularly marginalised and vulnerable groups.

Lessons learned

Be aware of the sensitivity of conducting needs assessments — It may sometimes be politically impossible to conduct extensive performance, management and needs assessments of security and justice institutions. One strategy may be to incorporate multiple, narrowly defined evaluations as outputs of a “quick win” initiative designed to achieve an immediate improvement of service delivery

Carefully design pilot projects — Pragmatism and political realism are vital in the formulation and delivery of pilot projects. If such projects are to build the trust and confidence of the partner government they must meet its needs while seeking to verify their commitment to sustainable justice and security development.

Management arrangements are important — An inception phase may be well designed, but it will be ineffective if equal consideration is not given to managing its implementation. It may be beneficial to ensure that people involved in designing the inception phase and planning long-term assistance remain closely involved in the management of the inception activities to ensure continuity, institutional memory and the confidence of local stakeholders.

*From the OECD DAC Handbook on Security System Reform: Supporting Security and Justice 

Case Study

National Security Policy and the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper in Sierra Leone

In Sierra Leone, a decision was made to link efforts to develop national security policy to the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). The national security sector review, which was designed to serve as the basis for national security policy, was therefore merged with a central strategic pillar of the PRSP on “promotion of good governance, security and peacebuilding”. The rationale for formally linking the two processes was based on national recognition that security is essential for economic development, and on the need to support connections between broader social and economic policies. It was also intended to align government priorities in a way that would streamline resources. This innovative approach faced several challenges; for example, concerns were voiced by some members of government about a “securitization” of the development agenda, particularly with regard to the high costs envisioned for the security package within the PRSP. Despite the challenges, Sierra Leone’s PRSP became the first national document to explicitly acknowledge linkages between security and economic development. In practice, it is also said to
have enhanced the coherence and coordination of SSR support on the part of international donors, by providing a clear framework with which they were able to align themselves.

Source: (Garrasi, Kuttner and Wam, 2009).

Case Study

The Challenges of Sequencing National Security Policy and National Security Legislation in Timor-Leste

In Timor-Leste, the government’s intention was first to develop a national security policy, which would subsequently guide the development of national security legislation. However, following the 2006 security crisis, swift development of the legislation became a priority, so that the roles and responsibilities of the police and defence forces could be more clearly delineated. Legislation and policy thus advanced in parallel: the national security law would be led by the Office of the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Defence, while national security policy would continue to be developed under the auspices of the Office
of the President and the Secretary of State for Security. In order to ensure links between the two processes, each of the institutions would comment in parallel on the draft law and draft policy. In practice this approach proved challenging; there were limited national resources to lead both processes, and equally limited international resources to support the national effort.  Finally, further delays in the policy-making process resulted in the national security law being adopted prior to the national security policy. As a result there was difficulty aligning policy with law, despite the fact that the law did not undergo the same broad consultative process as national security policy. After considerable national effort, law and policy were finally aligned, with a focus on supporting an integrated security sector.

Source found in: Security Sector Reform: Integrated Technical Guidance Notes , United Nations SSR Task Force, 2012. p. 125.

Case Study

Facilitating National Consultations in Liberia

In Liberia, it was decided that the Governance Commission (GC) would lead in the development of national security strategy. The GC, which had been created by the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement to promote good governance in the Liberian public sector, resolved to ensure a consultative approach to the development of the strategy. However, this approach was resisted by numerous representatives of government ministries, who feared that including civilians in discussions on national security would
amount to compromising that security.

The leadership provided by the GC was vital in overcoming this challenge. In particular, an effective approach was the South-South dialogue the GC supported, which brought together experts from other countries in the region to share their experiences with similar processes.

This approach proved extremely useful in alleviating fears of undertaking broad national public consultations. The consultation
process then took place across the country and involved traditional chiefs, women, civil society, local authorities, youth and local officials from the United Nations Mission in Liberia. The consultation identified local perceptions of national security threats, which included poverty, unemployment, crime, ethnic tensions and regional insecurity. These concerns were in turn reflected in the national security strategy and resulted in recognition of the need for a wider range of government ministries to support national security provision.

Source found in: Security Sector Reform: Integrated Technical Guidance Notes , United Nations SSR Task Force, 2012. p 133.

Case Study

Provision of Technical advice: Establishing a Steering Committee in the Central African Republic

In the Central African Republic, the committee in charge of organizing the “National SSR Seminar” – the Comité Préparatoire – was supported by UNDP. The Comité was in charge of research and document preparation, including gathering lessons from the threat assessment and supporting the information and awareness-raising campaign via consultation meetings in Bangui and five provinces. The Comité was also responsible for practical and logistical arrangements for the seminar. As the Comité undertook this intensive work, two main challenges emerged. First, staff members were only partially detached from their ministries or civil society organizations. This resulted in a prioritization of their other duties rather than the short-term mission they had been asked to complete within the Comité .
Second, a number of the members were very senior – often former ministers – and were therefore reluctant to undertake the large number of (even basic) tasks required by the Comité ’s mandate. UNDP and other international experts assisted the Government in overcoming these challenges: in highlighting the importance of the work of the Comité to high-level political actors, they garnered support for secondments of staff to the Comité .

UNDP also provided training and seconded secretarial staff to the Comité to increase the body’s administrative capacity. The provision of advice and sensitization on the need to carefully consider the membership of such committees paid off when the Secrétariat Technique Permanent (that replaced the Comité Préparatoire following the National SSR Seminar) was assigned full-time staff for its mandate, thus enabling it to fully support implementation of the security sector reform activities agreed at the Seminar.

Case Study