The security sector governance and reform (SSG/R) agenda has been influenced by the concept of human security since it was conceived in the 1990s. Putting people’s needs at the heart of reform processes has been the underlying premise of international assistance programming. However, over two decades since its conceptual conception, SSG/R programming has shown a disconnect between the ‘statebuilding’ approach and grassroots-focused peacebuilding efforts. Both types of approach aimed to tackle the underlying causes of violence, harm, crime, and conflict and build more efficient, effective, legitimate, transparent and accountable mechanisms for providing security and justice services.
Today, donor-assisted statebuilding efforts are flailing in many contexts: populism and criticism of the state and its role is rising globally. An honest examination of donors’ engagement in and legacy of assisting SSG/R is clearly needed. Dwindling financial resources for SSG/R, the global COVID-19 pandemic, and the considerable threats of political unrest and increasing fragility should give the international community the opportunity to strengthen coherence in assisting SSG/R processes. The members of the Governing Board of DCAF's International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT) face a shared challenge in ensuring that its international funding does not lead to a plethora of programming with uncoordinated initiatives and results.
This mandate allows the Knowledge and Outreach Team within DCAF's ISSAT to analyse its governing board members’ policies and programming to give an accurate reflection of what has been done in this area. ISSAT’s role is then to tap into donors’ collective learning on SSG/R and to generate guidance and evidence for reconstructing the model of SSG/R to ensure that donor programming stems from communities’ concerns but includes the political, governance and institutional aspects necessary for any reform process. This report is the final product of a stocktaking mandate taking place November 2021 - April 2022.