In the context of security and justice reform, vision and policy cascade down from the national level, to the national security system level, and to the national security institution level, and also could bubble up the other way. What is essential is that security and justice vision and strategy align with those above and below it. In this way the vision and strategy for the national security system will reinforce the overall development of the country, and the national security institutions will act together as a coherent whole to ensure maximum human security for the country's residents.
The practice of formulating a national security vision, policy and strategy is still very much in its infancy, with few countries having reached this level of detail in their ability to look at state-level governance and structures. As a result, common definitions of the meaning, hierarchy and processes involved are still in flux.
National Security Strategy or National Security Reform Strategy?
A National Security Strategy or Policy (NSS or NSP) is a key framework for a country to meet the basic needs and security concerns of citizens, and to address external and internal threats to the country. In addition to focusing on the effectiveness of security providers, many of the more recent, forward-looking NSS or NSPs pay particular attention to the relevance of security services, public legitimacy, local ownership and sustainability, in addition to implementation measures and improving the efficiency of security services provision. More specifically, these issues include the below elements. To learn more about potential entry-points for including those in a National Security Strategies, visit ISSAT's Thematics in Practice page.
- Human security
- Oversight and accountability
- Human rights
- Gender Equality
On the other hand, the objective of a National Security Reform Strategy is to define how the sector or organisation under reform will operate in the future. It assesses the relevance of the current situation to the future, identifies gaps, and plans for closing them. It tends to take a systemic approach, allowing areas such as information systems, organisational design, logistics, to be included in evaluating the opportunities within the sector. The typical five key elements a reform expert should look at whilst reforming institutional architecture are:
- Core processes
- Human resources
- Equipment and facilities
- Information systems and Technology
In this guidance, the term policy is used to describe the overarching goals, purposes and values related to national security. The term strategy is used to describe a document that aims to conciliate between aspirations and means. The term vision is used as part of a policy document. The term plan is used to reflect the specific changes needed to achieve the goals set in the national policy and/or strategy.
Each country will have its own preferences while selecting and adapting terminology to its needs. In reality, when building a security and justice vision and strategy, most countries would think about a security policy document and a security and justice reform plan. What is important is that each of these key documents is the product of a truly comprehensive and inclusive dialogue process resulting in a widely and genuinely shared view.
Phases and Sub-Activities
Phase A – Assess National Strategic Context, Strategies, Policies and Priorities
Phase B - Build National Security and Justice Vision and Policy
- Launch National Dialogue Process
- Set Up Steering Committee Including Secretariat for Operational Support
- Organise National Dialogue Forum on Security, Justice Vision and Future Policy
- Formulate Preliminary Vision and Basic Elements to be Included in the Security and Justice Policy
- Draft Final National Security and Justice Policy
- Communicate Main Conclusions
Phase C - Build National Security and Justice Strategy
- Undertake Prior Assessment of Strategic Context
- Set Up Steering Committee (if different from National Security Policy Steering Committee)
- Conduct Further National Dialogue on the Means to Meet the Vision and Objectives Outlined in the NSP
- Establish a National Security Forum Composed of Representatives from Government and Academia to Exchange Ideas on Strategy Development
- Decide On Key Priorities, Lead Actors, Coordination Mechanisms, and Human and Financial Resource Needs
- Draft the National Security Strategy