The International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT)

The International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT) provides practical support to the international community in its efforts to improve security and justice, primarily in conflict-affected and fragile states. It does this by working with a group of member states and institutions to develop and promote good security and justice reform practices and principles, and by helping its members to build their capacity to support national and regional security and justice reform processes.

Telephone: +41 (0)22 730 9400
Chemin Eugène Rigot 2E CH-1202
Case Postale 1360
CH-1202 Geneva
No programmes have been added yet.

Police Master Class 2014

Australia, Canada, Netherlands, Norway , UK mandate in Australia, Canada, Netherlands, Norway , UK 29.09.2014. - 10.10.2014.

In 2010, at the request of the Netherlands, ISSAT was asked to support a group of four police academies to develop a two week training course, targeting mainly (senior) law enforcement officials. The aim of the course is to train these officers on the issues around police reform within an SSR and post-conflict context, and to prepare them to act as police reform advisors within multilateral mission or bilateral support programmes.

The programme is a joint endeavour chaired by the Netherlands in conjunction with Norway,Canada and the UK. ISSAT was mandated to provide advisory support as well as its current SSR training materials, and to present a module on looking at police reform through an SSR lens. The first course was piloted in September 2011, and a second course took place in 2012, both at Bramshill in the UK. The Third course was hosted in 2013 by the Swiss at Stans, and this year’s Master Class will be hosted by the Norwegians in Stavern, Norway.

No vacancies have been added yet.

Operational Guidance Notes

ISSAT Assessment OGN: Processing a Security & Justice Assessment Proposal

This is the first OGN in the assessment series. It covers issues to be taken into account when first receiving a request to assist with a security and justice assessment. It provides an overview of the main steps that you should consider in order to ensure that you have as clear a picture as possible of what is required in order to start planning, as well as gathering initial information. It assumes that the request has come from a donor, but that the national partners will be brought into the process as soon as possible, in line with commitments under the Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda for Action.

Operational Guidance Note

ISSAT Assessment OGN: Planning a Security & Justice Assessment

This is the second OGN in the assessment series. It covers issues to be taken into account when planning a security and justice assessment once a decision has been made to initiate it. It provides an overview of the planning process and the main operational steps. Because you need to know how you are going to conduct your assessment in order to be able to plan for it, this OGN needs to be read in conjunction with the third OGN in this series: Conducting an Assessment.

Operational Guidance Note

ISSAT Assessment OGN: Conducting a Security and Justice Assessment

This is the third OGN in the assessment series. It covers issues to be taken into account when conducting an assessment. The approach should not be prescribed, but developed in line with the specific context and purpose of each assessment. This OGN does not set out a series of detailed steps or lists of questions to ask, but instead provides direction on good practice approaches and ideas on how to undertake different aspects of the assessment. You should use this as guidance when determining the specific methodology for your assessment.

Operational Guidance Note

ISSAT Assessment OGN: Following on from a Security and Justice Assessment

This is the fourth OGN in the assessment series. It covers the process of finalising and integrating the recommendations of the assessment and serves to a) provide the link between the assessment and subsequent justice and security donor support activities, and b) ensure that the lessons learned during the assessment process can be used constructively in the future. If the assessment is to determine a support programme, then this OGN should be read in conjunction with the ISSAT OGN series on Programme Design.

Operational Guidance Note

ISSAT OGN - Security and Justice Sector Reform Training Needs Analysis

A security and justice reform (SSR) process will at times lead to a discussion on the need to change the roles and responsibilities of different actors and institutions involved in the provision, management or oversight of security and justice services. Such changes may result in ‘training gaps’ or new training needs or demand for new training programmes. In this context, a undertaking a Training Needs Analysis (TNA) will contribute to the SSR planning process, help identify training needs and support a structured reform of the security and justice sector.

This note provides guidance on the procedure for conducting an analysis of security and justice training needs. While it does not focus on any particular security or justice actor, or oversight actors, this note highlights the political risks and technical difficulties involved in a TNA in a SSR setting.

Operational Guidance Note

ISSAT Programme Implementation OGN: The Security and Justice Sector Reform Advisor

Advisors have become an integral and important part of the diplomatic, development and security landscape that is put in place by bilateral and multilateral donors in developing and conflict-affected countries. There are many different types of advisors. These include:
political advisors; development advisors specialising in many disciplines from governance through education and health to conflict prevention; security and justice advisors, encompassing national security, defence, security sector transformation and justice sector reform. Some focus in highly technical fields such as human resources or direct budget support. Others, depending on their responsibilities and levels of advice, are designated “strategic”, “senior” or “special” advisors. Although the organisational and security-development contexts within which advisors work may vary, there are a number of common and unique qualities, attributes and characteristics that set them apart from their counterparts working in political, diplomatic, development or security staff appointments. Like any professional a good advisor also needs good advice and guidance.

Operational Guidance Note

ISSAT Programme Implementation OGN: Defence Transformation

By Defence Transformation (DT), we mean major and long lasting changes to the structure, functioning and ethos of the defence sector of a country. DT is therefore more extensive than simple incremental improvement to a country’s defence sector, such as happens all over the world. It also typically occurs after a major political conflict or crisis, usually involving violence, and often on a large scale. DT is thus more ambitious than the reorganisation of defence sectors following peaceful transitions, such as those in Eastern Europe after 1989. DT should be viewed as a component of a whole security and justice transformation process.

Operational Guidance Note


We are in the process of transitioning our guidance notes from discrete PDF documents to an integrated online methodology. This will allow us to constantly refine and improve our guidance based on practical experience, and include with the guidance a set of tools, case studies and examples that will make the guidance easier to understand and apply. You will still be able to download a PDF version of most content so you can use it as a reference when you're offline, but the online resource will be the most up to date and complete.

Evaluation is one of the first areas of guidance we have developed using this new approach. The content and interface are still very much under development, but you can have a sneak preview by following this link:


As always we are eager for your feedback. It is only with your help that we can make this a truly invaluable resource for you.

Operational Guidance Note

ISSAT Assessment OGN: Overview for Security and Justice Assessments

This note provides an overview for the series of Operational Guidance Notes (OGNs) on Security and Justice Assessments produced by the International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT). It is designed to be read as an introduction to the OGNs and includes the overarching principles that should be adhered to throughout the assessment process.

Operational Guidance Note

Case Studies

Capacity and accountability in the military: some examples from the SSD-program, Burundi


In April 2009 the Dutch and the Burundian government signed a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) concerning the professionalization of the police and army following SSR principles (later called: the Security Sector Development program: SSD). Although the situation in Burundi since 2015 has deteriorated significantly, this does not mean that all programs and projects executed in Burundi in the previous years have failed. This is certainly not the case of the SSD-program. There are good examples in the program of how the participating Dutch military tried to balance the reinforcement of capacity and the reinforcement of accountability and integrity.

Entry points

The SSD-program is divided into four phases of two years. From the beginning on it was decided that the first phase would be “SSR-light”. This phase was used to gain a certain status as partner country so that the program could introduce gradually the more sensitive issues and become more focused on strategic planning instead of solving the day to day, often post-conflict, challenges.

The program has three pillars: Governance, Police, and Army. The Army pillar consisted of Burundian military project-managers and was reinforced by a Dutch army officer, who acted as team leader during the 1st phase and became coach of the team in the 2nd phase.

Although the first phase was more train and equip oriented than the second phase, the first phase implicitly tried to combine capacity and accountability. Accountability is part of military daily life. It is so common that we do not see it. For example one of the projects was the delivery of cooking kettles for the kitchens, which had been constructed by UNDP but there was no budget for equipping them. The project delivered the necessary cooking kettles and introduced a system of maintaining them and how to control regularly the maintenance of the kettles and the presence of the linked kitchen equipment.

The SSD-program delivered also medium-sized trucks. The truck project foresaw the delivery of spare-parts. Spare-parts have a certain financial values, certainly the more exchangeable ones like tires, mirrors, batteries and filters. The program introduced a system of how to manage spare-parts and how to control the use of spare-parts. Through this project, the larger SSD program was able to propose a more profound project concerning the organization and management of the maintenance and repair unit of the Burundian army. This project was monitored and assisted by two additional Dutch military and reinforced the oversight and control of the maintenance and repair organization. Unfortunately the turn in political circumstances in Spring 2015 prevented the continuation of the project but the plan was that this project should become the pilot project of the entire logistical organization of the Burundian army.

Before the MoU was signed one of the PBF-projects was the project “Moralisation”. Despite the awkward name, its contents was extremely important: it concerned the revival of the lost norms and values of the Burundian army. The SSD-program continued this project and recalled it: “Military Ethics”. The project started by training 12 Burundian officers for two months. The training was executed by two additional Dutch army officers (one legal and one psychologist). They trained Burundian officers so that they could become the trainers of the Burundian army. There was an exam at the end, which only one officer failed and he was not to become a Military Ethics trainer.


After the training, the program facilitated Military Ethics training throughout the whole Burundian army resulting in some 2500 officers trained. In the meantime the trainers wrote the Manual on Military Ethics including some 25 cases which could be used in training. The manual was accepted and became a formal manual of the Burundian army. The program was asked to deliver a two-day training to all Burundian military going on mission to Somalia and Central African Republic. For years the Burundian army received positive remarks from the Somalian civil society on their behavior. The project continued in the 2nd phase leading to the first “Open doors of the Army” in Burundian history. For people in Europe this is something which happens on a yearly base but people who know Burundi or who are used to work in fragile states understand the value of this enormous breakthrough.  

The situation in Burundi as of Summer 2015 is very tense and there is an increasing number of casualties. In the media, the police is often blamed for using disproportional force or lethal force without sufficient reason. In the same media, the army has been mentioned as being more professional and moderate in their behavior. This illustrates a continued positive outcome of the efforts done within the “Military Ethics” project.

Lessons Identified

The progress made does not mean that every member of the Burundian army always performed well. There was a criminal case in Somalia in which Burundian military are said to be involved in Cibitoke-province in 2014. However, things would have been worse if the DSS-program had not conducted the “Military Ethics” project.

Comparisons judging the performance of an army of a post-conflict state only against internationally accepted norms and values are often made too soon. Consideration should be given to where this army comes from and what the context is. This is not the same as accepting the abuse of force. On the contrary, evidence of improvement in the functioning of command and control, including internal investigations and disciplinary action, are evidence of progress in governance and denouncing impunity.

The military can significantly contribute to the reinforcement of accountability and integrity, which will lead to more professional behavior of armed forces in other countries. Reinforcing accountability sounds more complex than it is: it starts at the operational level and is not always that difficult to introduce as it concerns the daily life of every member of the armed forces.

Selected Resources

Case Study


General Categories of Criminal Justice Actors

This tool lists a variety of actors to consider in the following areas of the criminal justice chain:

  • police and other law enforcement actors
  • Justice
  • Corrections

Prompts for non-state actors and oversight mechanisms are also included.


Top 10 Tips Series


This Top Ten Tips Series gathers ISSAT’s tips on working in Security Sector Reform (SSR) and advice for increasing efficiency. Focusing on the aspects that have worked in practice and helped advance projects and relying on first-hand experience, each piece in the series seeks to help SSR practitioners in a particular aspect of their work. 

  1. How to be a good SSR advisor when working with national actors:  Gordon Hughes gives advice on how to get started and address the challenges of planning transformation in politically and culturally sensitive contexts.
  2. Ten tips for tackling corruption:  looks at frequent issues associated with corruption.
  3. How to think about corruption when working with national and local actors:  Nicholas Seymour and Transparency International, gives further tips to tackle corruption, with an important starting point: discuss potential solutions.
  4. Ten tips for police internal oversight:  Antoine Hanin and proposes some avenues to help establish internal oversight mechanisms.
  5. Ten tips to improve international donor coordination, for SSR donor personnel in the field:  Janine Rauch gives key elements to manage coordination in SSR, from active participation in meetings to adequate use of the local media, among others.
  6. Ten tips on criminal justice system development:  Piet Biesheuvel stresses the complex nature of Criminal Justice Systems (CJS) and the importance of looking at all its components.
  7. Ten theory of change (ToC) tips for SSR:  Kai Schäfer develops the concept and explains how to adequately use it in SSR processes.
  8. Ten tips for increasing political engagement: Thammy Evans discusses how to incentivise political will in SSR.
  9. Ten tips for sustainable SSR programming:  Alwin van den Boogaard argues that some key criteria apply to achieve sustainability in SSR. 

10 Lessons learned from Ireland's support to Justice and Security Sector Reform efforts

This paper is adapted from a presentation by Donal Cronin, Ambassador of Ireland to Uganda that took place at the Conflict Resolution Unit, at Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Dublin, on 5 May 2015. It presents 10 key lessons captured from Ireland’s efforts of supporting Justice and Security Sector Reform. The paper highlights the need to undertake better political-economy analysis as part of SSR programming and to focus on the protection and participation of women and girls. The paper also recognises that fragility is not bound by national borders and therefore calls for more regional approaches to tackle security and justice challenges.


Effects Estimate

The Effects Estimate provides a framework for:

• Understanding the contemporary operating environment;
• Estimating second and third order effects;
• Managing risk;
• Warning of the need for actions-on unintended consequences;
• Implementing measures of effect;
• Improving the overall effect and ‘stickiness’ of a project.

This Estimate is especially suitable at project level, and can be carried out as a quick, or more in depth, analysis. With use of subject matter experts and regional or local area knowledge, the Effects Estimate does not need to take a lot of time. As with any analytical process, the resulting analysis is dependent on the quality of the data input to the process.

There are six basic steps:

  1. Define the project
  2. List negatives within the implementing community
  3. List positives within the implementing community
  4. Refine the project to enhance positives and diminish negatives
  5. Manage risks
  6. Build and monitor measures of effect

For a full description download the pdf.

The Effects Estimate has its origins in mainstream development work on conflict sensitivity and Do No Harm. It is adapted to apply across the security sector, including military and police reform / assistance projects, and combines important elements in risk management and evaluation / assessment of effect.


The Community-Based Approach to Criminal-Justice Assessments - the full guide in pdf

This operational guidance note (OGN) provides advice on how to conduct a community-based assessment (CBA) of the criminal justice system under real-world constraints. An assessment is a process of gathering and analysing information on needs to inform decision-making on programming. The criminal justice system refers to the practices and institutions directed at preventing crime, sanctioning those who commit crimes, making efforts to rehabilitate them, and providing reparations to the victims.

In the criminal justice field, assessments often start with the defects of criminal justice institutions such as the police, the courts or the prisons. Such an actor-focused assessment looks for the reasons why the institutions are ineffective or inefficient in what they do. But it does not ask whether these institutions actually do what they should do. Programming developed on the basis of an actor-focused assessment will address certain institutional defects but may miss out on the problems and needs of communities. Programming on this basis helps institutions to do things right but not necessarily to do the right things.

A CBA, on the other hand, starts with identifying the criminal justice needs of communities, then asks what institutions should but do not do to respond to these needs, and finally looks for the reasons that account for why these institutions do not deliver services to meet the needs. Such an approach grounds programme decisions in the needs of communities, links needs with institutions, and ensures a service orientation for criminal justice activities. Programming on this basis helps institutions to do the right things right.

Assessments are usually more complex than anticipated, especially in fragile and post-conflict contexts. Assessments are politically sensitive, time consuming and resource intensive (for general guidance on how to plan and conduct assessments see the ISSAT OGN series on security and justice assessments). Moreover, the assessment team often has to operate under serious time and resource constraints. This CBA tool aims to provide easy methods on how to conduct quality assessments under such real-world constraints. One technique used in this tool is mapping, which is a process of gathering just thebasic facts on the objects of interest, for instance on all criminal justice actors. Mapping is broad and complete but not deep and not detailed. A good mapping process produces a complete inventory and provides a bird’s-eye overview of all objects of interest.

The CBA consists of five stages: mapping needs, mapping actors, linking needs with actors, identifying the institutional causes that account for why the needs are not met, and analysing the CBA findings. This OGN describes step by step the five CBA stages and provides tools and templates to facilitate the CBA process.


SSR in a Nutshell: Level 1 Training Manual

SSR in a Nutshell: Manual for Introductory Training on Security Sector Reform

This manual complements ISSAT’s Introductory Level 1 Security Sector Reform Training Course. It aims to provide a basic overview of Security Sector Reform (SSR) policy and practice based on collective experience in supporting security and justice reform efforts.

The manual is built around four key pillars of SSR:

Section one: The Concept of SSR

This section discusses SSR as a concept, explains its evolution and theoretical foundations and provides definitions of key terms. It also highlights some key characteristics of SSR.

Section two: Key Security and Justice Actors

This section maps the main security and justice actors at both the national and international level and proceeds to discuss coordination among these actors when engaging in SSR.

Section three: SSR Programming

This section elaborates the various stages of the SSR programme cycle, and addresses various challenges—both political and technical—that could arise when engaging in SSR programming.

Section four: Cross-Cutting Issues

This section reviews important thematic and practical aspects of SSR that are often overlooked, including gender issues, human rights and programme management. It also discusses issues closely related to SSR, such as Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR), Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) control and Transitional Justice (TJ).

This manual provides an overview of the theoretical background and key practical insights needed to engage in SSR programming, setting out the main principles but also highlighting various challenges that could arise when engaging in SSR. For those who have completed the ISSAT Level 1 Introductory Training Course, as well as those getting involved in SSR policy and programming for the first time, this textbook will remain a useful reference.

SSR in a Nutshell in FrenchSSR in a Nutshell in Spanish and SSR in a Nutshell in Arabic are also available.


Conducting Lesson Identification for Justice and Security Reform Programmes

Collection of evidence of good practice, and presenting key lessons in a way that encourages their use, is an important process for justice and security sector reform. The first phase of learning lessons is to ensure that you collect the evidence supporting the identified good practice using a rigorous and structured process. ISSAT Knowledge Services has put together a comprehensive tool which identifies practical methodological steps to collect the relevant evidence and conduct a lesson identification exercise. 


Top 10 Programming Tools for Security and Justice Sector Reform

Screenshot 10

This collection contains 10 commonly used tools for Security and Justice Sector Reform Programming as well as additional online resources. Download the PDF document below to read more on each tool. 


  • Political, Economic, Social, Technical, Legal, Environmental and Security (PESTLES) Analysis
  • Results -Based Management (RBM)
  • Stakeholder Analysis
  • Power/Interest Matrix
  • Conflict Mapping
  • Capacity, Integrity and Sustainability Framework
  • Effects Estimate
  • Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) Analysis
  • Organisation Mapping
  • Gap Analysis

Migration and Justice & Security Reform Infographic

This ISSAT infographic visually underscores the distinction between refugees, forced displacement and migration, with an emphasis on the scale of these migratory flows. It also draws attention to the existing policy frameworks and lists a selection of good practice examples on Justice and Security responses to forced displacement and migration. 

The last decade has seen a significant rise in the global refugee flows, mainly as a result of intra-state conflicts. This increase has a global impact. Although the majority of migration flows is from South to South, the recent refugee flow into Europe received high attention in the media and the international community. The public discourse crafted by the media portrayed a false notion of "migrant invasion" that is not supported by data on migration. 

With this infographic and other associated tools, DCAF-ISSAT aims to keeps abreast with developments in the migration and forced displacement discourse. Visit our Thematics in Practice page on Migration and JSSR to access other Knowledge Products, resources, good practice examples and challenges for the international community. 


What is Governance?

Governance infographic

This infographic provides an overview of Governance, from a map of the concept in relation to Justice and Security Sector Reform to entry points and leverage for governance. The document provides a visual representation of good governance and a detailed presentation of the essential interlocking elements that provide checks and balances with their respective definitions. The infographic includes additional resources on governance in the security sector, on performance indicators and measures of effect, and on related topics.

The infographic is best printed on A3 size. You can download it, print it out and fold along the dotted lines - this will provide you with an easy to share, A5-size document.



African Union assistance in Security Sector Reform

In this short 3 minute clip, Dr Tarek Sharif, Head of the Defence and Security Division of the Peace and Security department of the African Union, talks about the role the AU plays in assisting its members to carry our reform of their security sectors.


The security sector in Southeast Asia - Dr Carolina Hernandez

Dr Carolina Hernanedez of the Institute for Security and Defence Studies in the Philippines talks about how she sees the security sector of Southeast Asia and its development.

The audio version of this video is available here


Mallika Joseph

Dr Mallika Joseph, Deputy Director, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies

Mallika shares her experience working on SSR issues in South Asia.


The Political Dynamics of SSR - Bgen (ret) Bernard Belondrade Interview

In this video interview Bgen(ret), Bernard Belondrade, talks about the political dynamics of SSR processes between decision-making and implementation bodies. Senior ISSAT SSR Advisor lays out the complexities of interactions between security forces and political authorities when it comes to Security Sector Reform.


Panel Discussion - SSR in West Africa - Brigadier General (ret) Kellie Conteh - 2010-12-01

Brigadier General (ret'd) Kellie Conteh from Sierra Leone,  Head of the Office of National Security Sierra Leone since 2002, talks about SSR in Sierra Leone, which is often seen as a success story for SSR. Specifically:

  1. Sierra Leone's historical setting - how it came to realise that it need SSR after 11 years of conflict
  2. what Sierra Leone was looking for to reform the security sector
  3. strategies developped by Sierra Leone to tackle reform.

The audio-only version of this video is available here.


SSR Politics in Training - Interview Bgen(ret) Bernard Belondrade

What are the "politics of SSR" and how could these dynamics be managed? Bgen(ret) Bernard Belondrade shares with ISSAT Community members the experience of a training workshop where this aspect was predominant in how the trainees reacted to the knowledge shared with them.


Lessons from Iraq: Building an Inclusive Armed Forces and Engaging Informal Actors

Interview with Walter Slocombe, Senior Advisor for Security and Defence to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad (2003). Mr Slocombe is also a former US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.


Case Study: Ferdinand von Habsburg-Lothringen

In this eight minute abridged video, Ferdinand von Habsburg-Lothringen, a former strategic advisor to the United Nations Development Programme in South Sudan, shares his experiences on the dilemmas encountered in assessing existing capacity and identifying gaps when implementing Security Sector Reform in South Sudan. He discusses the process and challenges of implementing SSR strategies in a newly formed state and provides advice to those going out to the demanding and delicate role of advising. The full video of this interview can be found here.


Addressing Short and Long-term Security Issues in South Sudan

In light of the internal conflict which erupted in South Sudan in December 2013, this video interview with UNMISS SRSG Hilde Johnson, which was conducted over a year earlier, still highlights some of the challenges facing stability in South Sudan. SRSG Johnson discusses some of the long and short-term challenges, and some of the mechanisms being used to carry out disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR).


Insights and lessons into long-term SSR programming - Part 1

Stephen Jackson, the Chief of Staff of the UN Office in Burundi, provides insight into following topics of interest in SSR programming:

  • perverse incentives in DDR programming
  • the principle of Do No Harm in peacedeals and ceasefires
  • bridging the capacity gap
  • the need to incentivise a national security strategy process
  • the sustainability of SSR and the need for a long-term vision

See Part 2 of this interview.

Here are a few quotes from the interview

the best form of hygiene is sunlight [re budgetary transparency]

It takes a full generation to move an institution up one notch in institutional strength. It's not to take Afghanistan and turn it tomorrow into Switzerland but to take Afghanistan and maybe get it to be Nigeria - that takes a generation...

We over-estimate dependency a great deal - absence of institutional strength and financial strength are two related problems which aren't going to be addressed in the first 25 years...

Maybe the problem isn't handing [an SSR programme] over too late, it's having too short a vision.


The Economic Links Between Security Sector Reform and Development

Interview with Gabriel Negatu, Regional Director at the East Africa Resource Centre at the African Development Bank (AfDB). Mr Negatu looks at the overlap between economic development good security and the need for economic prospects for effective reintegration of former combatants or returning refugees.

"DDR is easier said than done... "The two D's are much easier than the last R."


Empowerment for Progress - civil society engagement in SSR

Edmond Yakani, coordinator of the Empowerment for Progress in South Sudan, discusses the role of civil society in security sector reform. He shares experience from interacting with members of the security sector, executive and legislature. He discusses how to effectively manage these relationships and dynamics of reform. He also provides insight into how civil society in South Sudan handles gender in the security sector by capitalizing on quality rather than quantity.  


Sustainability versus dependency

Ferdinand von Habsburg-Lothringen, a former strategic advisor to the UNDP, shares his experiences implementing security sector reform in South Sudan. He discusses the process and challenges of implementing SSR strategies in a newly formed state and provides advice to those going out to the demanding and delicate role of advising.

Questions asked during the interview: 

1. How can sustainability be ensured without creating dependency?

2. Have you ever been asked to do the work instead of providing support?

3. Have you ever come across cases of corruption and how do you deal with them?

4. What top tips would you give to a new advisor in charge of designing a capacity development plan?

Part 1 of this interview discusses identifying capacity and dealing with trauma.


Insights and lessons into long-term SSR programming - Part 2

View Part 1 of this interview.

Stephen Jackson, the Chief of Staff of the UN Office in Burundi, provides insight into following topics of interest in SSR programming:

  • maintaining enthusiasm for SSR 
  • resuscitating SSR enthusiasm 
  • coordination and the success of SSR
  • the role of gender in SSR
  • advice for SSR advisers

"Where SSR has moved forward at some kind of a pace, it's usually been in a context where a single lead partner was prepared to take on a very central role and assume the risk that goes with that." Stephen Jackson


Identifying capacity, dealing with trauma

Ferdinand von Habsburg, strategic advisor to the UNDP, shares some of his experiences as an advisor on security sector reform in South Sudan. He addresses aspects an advisor must consider when assessing existing capacity, identifying gaps, and designing a capacity development plan as well as ensuring buy-in. He touches also upon the effects that post-traumatic stress disorder can play in affecting capacity.

Questions asked during the interview:

1. What aspects would an adviser have to think about when designing a capacity development plan?

2. How can buy-in be ensured for an SSR programme?

Part 2 of the interview is looks at sustainability versus dependency.


The challenges of security sector reform in Somalia.

The former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Hussein Arab Isse, talks about the challenges of reforming the security sector in Somalia, including the need for greater inclusion of women in the process. Interview conducted 3 October 2012.


Gender in SSR

Stephen Jackson, Chief of Staff at the UN Office in Burundi, discusses the role gender plays in SSR and considers why a gender component is not a standard part of all SSR programmes.


"Gender often falls low down the list in terms of outcomes in a security sector reform process..... it's not as if that agenda is enormously well advanced in a lot of the partners countries, let's be honest." Stephen Jackson


Trends, Setbacks and Sustainability of International Community Support to SSR

This 11-minute video-interview with Wally Vrey, Regional Coordinator for DDR, Southern Sudan at the United Nations in Sudan, considers:

  • the global trends in security sector reform
  • managing situations when SSR enthusiasm dampens
  • providing long-term support without dependency

"We have to cultivate national ownership - it's not going to come and grow from itself," Wally Vrey.


Le système judiciaire en Guinée

Entretien avec maître Mamadou Laminé Fofana, conseiller spécial auprès de la présidence guinéenne pour la réforme du secteur de la justice.


" Les gens ils vont en justice, ils plaident pendant des années, parce que ça prend énormément de temps, et ils ont une décision judiciaire qui est définitive parce qu’elle revêtue la formule exécutoire. "


Interview avec Serge Rumin-Les conseillers dans des contextes de réforme

Advisers in the context of reform

Serge Rumin, Directeur du Programme DSS au Burundi, octobre 2012.

Addressing topics such as :

  • Challenges faced by advisers in complex environments
  • Role of advisers in reinforcing a state's capacity  
  • Establishing trust with external advisers
  • Advice on problems of corruption
  • Adapting to the role of adviser: credibility and legitimacy
  • Relationship with local partner/counterpart

Working with Local Counterparts

In this video, Paulo Costa, an experienced Police advisor, shares his insights on the importance of developing a good rapport with a foreign colleague.  Taking time to develop a personal relationship before getting down to business, may make your task much easier.


Inspector Pilkington on challenges and community policing

An interview with Inspector Pauline Pilkington of the UK International Police College,including an example of community policing from Namibia.


Mark Downes on Advising

Mark Downes, Assistant Director of the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) and Head of DCAF’s Operations Department, explains why the past experience of practitioners can be both their greatest asset and their biggest baggage. Adapting advice to the context is crucial. 


Policy and Research Papers

Informal Conclusions of the Chair: High Level Panel on the Challenges and Opportunities for Security Sector Reform (SSR) in East Africa

The overall purpose of the High Level Panel (October 2nd-3rd 2012) was to take stock of the challenges when implementing security and justice reforms at a national level; to identify lessons that could be applied to other SSR processes in the Eastern African region; and to look at what role regional and international actors could optimally have in SSR initiatives. The High Level Panel brought together over 200 SSR policy makers and practitioners to unpack the key issues faced by both those implementing and leading SSR. Those attending the event were experts responsible for leading and implementing processes in Burundi, Somalia and South Sudan, as well as key donors, regional and multilateral organisations and representatives from the African Security Sector Network and other civil society organisations. 

This report reflects the informal conclusions drawn from the selected country-case studies as well as thematic debates at the High-Level Panel. 


The Road Ahead: Challenges and Opportunities of SSR 2013

On 2-3 October 2012, DCAF-ISSAT organised a High Level Panel (HLP) on Challenges and Opportunities for Security Sector Reform (SSR) in East Africa , in partnership with the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON), the Governments of Burundi, Kenya, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Somalia and South Sudan, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Union (AU), East African Community (EAC), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Security Sector Network (ASSN). It was attended by over two hundred SSR policy makers and practitioners.

This report seeks to take those discussions further, including more of the points raised by participants during the HLP, and adding in lessons from experience gathered from individual missions and related trainings. Three case studies featured in the HLP (Burundi, Somalia and South Sudan) and as such provide many of the examples, although the report also draws from examples beyond East Africa. An introductory section on SSR in each of these countries is provided in section one and full case studies are included in the annex.

This report, which keeps to the same thematic areas as those covered in the HLP, offers information on contemporary thinking in security and justice reform, and provides some recommendations and examples of good practice to those interested in or engaged in SSR.

Some videos interviews of the participants at the event are listed in the Related Resources column on the right of this webpage. A full list of available videos from this event are available under the documents tab on the HLP's Events page. Podcasts of all the sessions are available there also.


Evaluation de la phase II du Programme du Développement du Secteur de la Sécurité au Burundi

Le royaume des Pays-Bas a mandaté l’ISSAT afin de conduire une évaluation de la 2ième phase du programme DSS lancé en 2009 en soutien des deux principales institutions de sécurité de la république du Burundi, la FDN et la PNB. Reposant sur un Mémorandum d’Entente (MdE) signé par les deux pays pour une durée de huit ans, le programme s’échelonne sur 4 périodes d’environ deux ans chacune ; il porte sur trois axes clairement formalisés, appelés ici « piliers », le « MSP et la PNB », le « MDNAC et la FDN » et les « questions transversales », redéfini en axe « gouvernance » dès le début de la phase II.

Voir le mandat Burundi ici.

View the Burundi Mandate here.


Audit de l'inspection générale de la sécurité publique du Burundi - Rapport Final

Cette mission d’audit a été demandée par l’inspection générale de la sécurité publique (IGSP) du ministère de la Sécurité publique (MSP) du Burundi en liaison avec le programme de Développement du Secteur de la Sécurité (DSS) des Pays-Bas. Elle s’inscrit dans le contexte du nouveau plan stratégique du MSP 2013-2016, du plan d’action 2014 de l’IGSP et la préparation de la phase III du DSS.

L’objectif principal de cette mission était d’analyser l’organisation, la structure et le fonctionnement de l’IGSP afin de définir des recommandations pour l’amélioration de son service et du contrôle interne de la police en tenant compte du contexte politique, économique et social actuel du Burundi et des principes fondamentaux de démocratie, d’intégrité et de contrôle interne de la Police du Burundi.

En savoir plus.

To find out more.


What Works in International Security and Justice Programming?



This preliminary scoping study was commissioned by the Department for International Development (DFID), with the aim of considering the security and justice sector reform efforts of 19 of the main Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – Development Assistance Council (OECD-DAC) donors. It focuses on the efforts of each nation’s foreign affairs, development, defence, and justice agencies, and provides an initial assessment of how policy and programming are linked, what evidence of good practice has been collected, and what knowledge and programming gaps exist currently.


Processing a Security and Justice Reform Assessment Request

This is the first OGN in the assessment process series. It covers issues to be taken into account when first receiving a request to assist with a security and justice assessment. It provides an overview of the main steps that you should consider in order to ensure that you have as clear a picture as possible of what is required in order to start planning, as well as gathering initial information. It assumes that the request has come from a donor, but that the national partners will be brought into the process as soon as possible, in line with commitments under the Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda for Action.


Roundtable on Security Sector Expenditure Reviews; Nairobi, Kenya 1 October 2012

On 1 October 2012 the roundtable on Security Sector Expenditure Reviews, hosted by the World Bank Global Centre on Conflict, Security and Development in Nairobi, Kenya and organised in partnership with DCAF’s International Security Sector Advisory Team, brought together economists and Security Sector Reform (SSR) practitioners and experts to discuss the challenges and opportunities for supporting the conduct of expenditure reviews and enhancing financial management in the security sector. 

The roundtable considered past and ongoing security sector expenditure reviews, in particular in Afghanistan and Liberia.  It sought to examine the challenges, trends and prospects of including similar reviews in other post-conflict countries.  It also provided a platform for economists and SSR practitioners to discuss how they can better collaborate to promote and enhance security sector expenditure review processes.  In addition, the roundtable included discussions on how such expenditure reviews can enhance ongoing SSR efforts and how to ensure that financial management becomes more integrated in SSR processes.


Overview of SSR policies of multilateral organisations

The International Security Sector Advisory Team provides an overview of policies in the UN, AU, ECOWAS, EU, OSCE, and NATO. 


Evaluation de la réforme de la sécurité et de la justice au Burundi

Rapport final


Ce rapport d'évaluation, commandité conjointement par le gouvernement du Burundi, le gouvernement du Royaume des Pays-Bas et le Bureau des Nations Unies au Burundi, porte sur les efforts concertés des burundais et de tous leurs partenaires internationaux pour réformer les secteurs de la sécurité et de la justice (principalement la chaine pénale) depuis la signature de l’Accord d’Arusha en 2000. Les objectifs principaux de cette évaluation étaient :

  • de fournir un aperçu de l'évolution du processus de réforme de 2000 à 2013 ; 
  • d'identifier les résultats obtenus, les lacunes, les défis et les déficits ; et 
  • de formuler des recommandations aux autorités burundaises et à ses partenaires nationaux et internationaux visant à améliorer les activités actuelles et futures du processus de réforme. 

Pour réaliser cette évaluation, le gouvernement des Pays-Bas a sollicité l’appui d’une équipe d’ISSAT (International Security Sector Advisory Team) qui a débuté ses travaux en mai 2013. Un Comité Directeur chargé d'accompagner les étapes de l’évaluation, d'en analyser les rapports intermédiaires, provisoires et finaux, et de les approuver fut établi. Ce comité était composé de représentants du gouvernement du Burundi (exécutif, législatif et judicaire), des partenaires techniques et financiers (PTF) et de la société civile.


Human Rights Based Approach to SSR

The UN characterises a HRBA as a “conceptual framework that is normatively based on international human rights standards and operationally directed to promoting and protecting human rights”. Similar to the UN’s HRBA Common Understanding, the European Commission’s rights-based approach (RBA) integrates human rights principles and standards into all aspects of the programme design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. In these rights-based conceptual frameworks, participation, local empowerment, national ownership meaningful inclusion and accountability are central elements to their implementation.

This ISSAT Research Paper explores how a HRBA helps us to get started on the right path to doing things right in SSR. 


Examination of Legal Aid in Haiti - Lessons Learned

Between 2 and 18 February 2017 a joint team from the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (MINUSTAH and the Justice and Corrections Service) and the USAID Justice Sector Strengthening Program (JSSP), supported by DCAF’s International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT) and the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) undertook a mission to Haiti that examined the MINUSTAH-supported Legal Aid Office (Bureau d’Assistance Légale - BAL) of Port-au-Prince (2012-2017), Cap-Haïtien and Les Cayes (2015-2016), legal aid projects implemented by PROJUSTICE/USAID, and Government-supported BAL established between 2015 and 2017.

The mission report is available in English and French. 


Cattle Rustling and Insecurity in Africa: A Comparative Perspective

Cattle rustling is on the rise in various African countries, with the associated number of deaths, both amongst cattle rustlers, security forces and affected populations reaching problematic proportions. Yet, there is limited policy-oriented research on this matter ranging the security-development continuum. This ISSAT brief, developed as part of the mandate Reinforcing African Union SSR Unit support to national SSR processes draws on existing literature, and provides an overview of cattle rustling in Madagascar, Lesotho, South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya. A brief contextualisation is provided for each country, before outlining the security measures implemented to tackle the challenge, and deriving recommendations.

For full access to the paper, Cattle Rustling and Insecurity in Africa: A Comparative Perspective, kindly follow the link. 


Other Documents

ISSAT Service Line Flyers - ALL

A print-out version of what is available on our Service Lines webpage.

Other Document

ISSAT 16th Governing Board meeting - overview of 2016

Overview of the year 2016 so far, given by Mark Downes, Head of ISSAT, at the occasion of the 16th Governing Board meeting in Geneva.

Other Document

Benefits of ISSAT Membership

Provides a brief overview of our services and explains mechanisms for funding ISSAT.

Other Document

Africa Forum on SSR - Concept Note

This concept note describes the background to the 2014 Africa Forum on Security Sector Reform.

Other Document

ISSAT, July 2016: highlights of the year so far

mid year inforgraphics screenshot

ISSAT's mid-year infographic showcases the year so far, including new areas ISSAT has supported, upcoming mandates and a financial overview.

Other Document

Coordination and Security Sector Reform - An Overview of Policy Documents on Donor Coordination

Coordination has been widely recognized in both the SSR and international community as a crucial element to reform and development processes. Within the SSR context, coordination can improve effectiveness, credibility, management and sustainability of projects and programmes as well as minimize duplication efforts and unnecessary spending.

To further support coordination mechanisms, the international community conducted and produced a variety of high levels fora, conferences and policy documents. These include:

• The Rome Declaration for Harmonisation (2002)
• The Paris Declaration (2005)
• The Accra Agenda (2008)
• The Intergovernmental 3C Conference (2009)
• The Busan Agreement (2011)

This executive summary prepared by ISSAT will provide a brief overview of these policy documents.

Other Document

Interpreting International Norms for a More Impactful Human Rights-based Approach (HRBA) in SSR


How can a system-wide guidance tool grounded in international human rights norms and standards strengthen the holistic approach inherent to SSR? This second paper from the HRBA Working Group from ISSAT’s Methodology Cell explores international human rights norms and standards with jurisprudence set by the ECHR, IACHR and UN international instruments.

Read Paper 1: Rethinking a Human Rights-based Approach to SSR

For further information on the Working Group's research, please refer to the Rethinking a Human Rights-based Approach (HRBA) in Security Sector Reform blog

Other Document

Forced Displacement and SSR - Briefing Note

The rise in the number of armed conflict in recent years aggravated by other factors have led to an increase in the global flows of migration and forced displacement resulting in the worst humanitarian crises in decades. The issue of forced displacement has become a direct concern for the Security and Justice Sector Reform Community. In this briefing note, ISSAT outlines the push factors for forced displacement and provides some recommendations to address them. 

Other Document

Security Sector Reform, an integrating function or a separate discipline?

Security Sector Reform is increasingly perceived as the answer to the vast array of security challenges that beset post-conflict and fragile communities. It is hyped as the answer to the exit strategy dilemma faced by the international community. It is not the concept of SSR that matters, but the integrated approach it brings to police reform, defense reform, justice reform, governance reform and national security planning. It can also be the bridge that conceptually links the security-development nexus.

Input by: DCAF’s International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT)

Other Document

Using the Capacity Integrity Framework (CIF)

This document explains how to apply the Capacity Integrity Framework to assess the capacity and integrity of a security institution. It lists the general question areas to be explored in each of the four areas of the matrix. 

Other Document

ISSAT Mid-year Report 2015

See how we've progressed to 31 May 2015. 

Other Document

Identification of service delivery gaps and overlaps

Various tools including maps, tables and charts are contained in this document to establish service delivery gaps and overlaps between actors:

  1. Geographical gaps and overlaps
  2. Functional overlaps and gaps
  3. Size of actors
  4. Composition of senior personnel
Other Document

ISSAT, July 2017: highlights of the year so far


DCAF-ISSAT's mid-year infographic showcases the year so far, including new areas we supported, increase in our justice mandates, our recent focus on certain themes and countries and a brief financial overview.

Other Document

Comparative Resources for Parliamentary Committees of Defence, Interior and Security

This document outlines comparative resource material on security, defense and interior parliamentary committees. The material is divided according to: established democracies, near and middle-eastern democracies, and post-conflict democracies. The "established democracies" category has quite a few committee Terms of Reference, including from the US, the UK, Switzerland, Australia and France; Also included are some rules of procedure, some of which outline more generally what committees do and how they function. Providing the broader context is generally very useful for an establishing parliament. The near and middle-eastern section sought to draw on Arab parliaments. Many of these countries do not have security-related committees, because oversight, particularly of the security sector, is not always sanctioned; some parliaments simply don't have websites; and a number are only in Arabic. Nevertheless, there are a few that are available, including from Turkey and Iraq.

There are also a few examples from post-conflict countries, given the sensitivities to security in such transitions. Here there is quite a bit, particularly from the Balkans. Also included are some secondary sources and case studies. A section on the "Role of Parliaments in Overseeing the Security Sector," is a collection of secondary sources that are very relevant to security-related committees. These include materials from DCAF, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), UNDP and a couple of others. There are some good case studies from Palestine and Iraq, among others. There is a book chapter about parliamentary oversight of the security sector in Afghanistan (DCAF publication), which has a focus on committees as well as a more general description of how parliaments can exercise oversight of the security sector.

The IPU is a particularly useful website with a comparative database of parliaments around the world and a webpage where parliamentary websites from around the world are made easily accessible on one page. IPU'  PARLINE database contains information on the structure and working methods of 266 parliamentary chambers in all of the 189 countries that have a parliament.

Other Document

ISSAT Mid-year Report 2013

In February 2013, ISSAT celebrated five years of its establishment as a standing capacity in support of its Members’ security and justice reform programmes. Since its inception in 2008, ISSAT has completed 224 mandates as well as a growing number of advocacy and outreach activities. This has allowed ISSAT to refine its knowledge in terms of thematic areas, processes and contexts. In addition, ISSAT has developed firm partnerships, notably with the Africa Security Sector Network (ASSN), the Association for Security Sector Reform Education and Training (ASSET), Governance and Social Development Research Centre (GSDRC), le Groupe de Recherche et d’Information sur la Paix and la Sécurité (GRIP), and now has a fully established roster of additional experts, all of which extend the capacity of ISSAT to provide added value to its Members...

Other Document

ISSAT Interim Annual Report 2013

With the celebration of its fifth anniversary, as a standing capacity to support its Members’ security and justice reform programmes around the globe, ISSAT has established itself as a major contributor to international cooperation in the fields of security and justice reform. Having supported almost 300 activities and mandates throughout the years, ISSAT has developed and refined its knowledge and capacity across a variety of thematic and geographical areas, processes, and contexts. ISSAT has continuously developed and adapted its service lines to better suit the needs and requests of

Following on from the trend identified at the end of 2012 in the area of Advisory Field Support, ISSAT has seen an increase in its activities in regions in which it was previously not engaged. This has been the case in North Africa, with two missions in Libya to support the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), and in Latin America and the Caribbean, with multiple missions to support the European Union, the OECD and Switzerland. Another noticeable trend is the large number of mandates which have rolled over from one year to the next, for example support to the United Kingdom’s annual evaluation of its Security Sector Accountability and Police Reform (SSAPR) Programme in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, UNSMIL’s support in the Libyan Defence White Paper Process, and UNDP Somalia’s Police Programme and support for the Somaliland Observatory of Conflict and Violence Prevention. Similarly, Members have kept their tendency to use ISSAT support for multiple missions as part of a single mandate. This has, for example, been the case of the European Union (EU), which requested ISSAT to undertake field missions in eleven Latin American and Caribbean countries over a period of four months.

For the third year running ISSAT supported Canada, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom to run their annual Senior Strategic Advisers’ Master Class on Police Reform (PMC) in an International and SSR Context, which was hosted by Switzerland. This recurring event is an example of a successful joint endeavour between five Members of ISSAT’s Governing Board.

The PMC is also an example of the increasing diversity of requests for ISSAT’s support in training and capacity building. The classic Level 1 SSR Course is now complemented with various other requests such as: the integration of SSR modules into other related trainings (for example peace-support operations, civil-military relations), new and different audiences (UN Standing Police Capacity, African Development Bank), e-learning modules available in several languages, and several Advanced Level 2 SSR Courses.

In the field of Knowledge Services, ISSAT has continued to build its global community of security and justice practitioners with an emphasis on exchange of information, knowledge and experiences. The Community of Practice (CoP) now has almost 1000 Members who can access a vast repository of policy and guidance documents, e-learning courses, cases studies, videos and other resources. Advocacy and Outreach activities have steadily increased and serve to support the work of the other three service lines. These activities tie together ISSAT’s efforts to ensure that Members and the wider SSR Community are aware of, buy into, and take ownership for application of international good practice in SSR support. To build upon the success of the 2012 Nairobi High Level Panel on SSR in East Africa, ISSAT is in the early stages of planning another high level discussion event for 2014.

With cost-sharing now firmly established for UN and EU requests, ISSAT has received 13 mandates from multilateral Members, which have entailed 25 missions in 21 countries. The multilateral Members which have requested ISSAT’s support include: EU, OECD, UNDP, the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), UNSMIL, UN Standing Police Capacity (UN SPC), UNDP Somalia and the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (ONUCI).

In sum, another very productive year for ISSAT, with a total of 70 activities for 13 Members in the following 40 countries: Albania, Armenia, Austria, EU Headquarters in Brussels, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burundi, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Finland, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Honduras, the UN in Italy, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Libya, Liberia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Peru, Senegal, Serbia, Somalia, South Sudan, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay*, and the UN’s Headquarters in New York. A full overview of ISSAT’s activities can be found at Annex A.

Other Document

ISSAT Leaflet 2016

The ISSAT leaflet provides a short overview of the International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT). It briefly describes ISSAT's mission, membership and the key service lines (Advisory Field support, Training and Capacity Development, Advocacy and Outreach, Knowledge Services). It also provides a brief description the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), as well as details of how to contact ISSAT and request support/become a Member.

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SSR Trends and Challenges in Africa: A Partners' Summary of the first Africa Forum on SSR

Available in العربية and Français 

The Africa Forum on SSR, 24th – 26th November 2014, reflects the importance and depth of critical understanding of the topic of Security Sector Reform. The Forum brought together over 250 policy makers, analysts and practitioners to exchange experiences and lessons, and explore practical ways to further successful SSR against the myriad of challenges faced by countries and regions in Africa. This partner summary compiles notes on the relevance of SSR and the recognition of SSR as a political process, the importance of monitoring and evaluation, the need for a holistic approach, and the role of the AU and sub-regional institutions in supporting justice and SSR.

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ISSAT Interim Annual Report 2014

Over the past year, we have witnessed the first unanimous UN Security Council Resolution (2151) on SSR,  the tremendous interest and high level participation in the 2014 Africa Forum on SSR in Addis Ababa. There were also numerous high level debates on SSR throughout the year—such as at the GLOBSEC conference in Slovakia, the Alpbach Forum in Austria, and at the first GAAMAC meeting held in Costa Rica—showing that we are seeing a growing, if not reinvigorated, interest and commitment to SSR in the global policy discourse and development agendas. 

With 59 mandates and activities undertaken in 2014, the demand for ISSAT services has remained constant. 

Other Document

UN Peace Operations: What Needs to Change?

International police assistance mandates have changed over the past two decades. Activities have become increasingly wide-ranging and complex, moving from monitoring host State police officers to supporting the reform and restructuring of police organisations. In a few exceptional cases, (most recently Kosovo and Timor-Leste) ‘executive’ police mandates involve substituting for inadequate or absent policing and law enforcement capacity. Both executive and non-executive missions have focused on building capacity of the host State police, a task complicated by weak governance, fragile institutions, community dislocation, rapid urbanisation and transnational criminal groups.

Input by: Tor Tanke Holm, Deputy Director of the Norwegian Police University College, and Mark Downes, Assistant Director DCAF and Head of the International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT)

Other Document

Decentralisation of Security Governance: Facilitator of a Human Rights-based Approach (HRBA) to SSR?

The UN Common Understanding of a HRBA among UN Agencies (2003) was designed to provide guidance to UN mandates on incorporating human rights standards, norms and principles into all programming support components. The third paper from the HRBA Working Group from ISSAT’s Methodology Cell highlights the need for further study on Decentralisation of Security Governance (DSG) by providing brief examples of how Local Security Councils (LSCs), mechanisms of DSG, can help turn the principles of inclusivity, local ownership, accountability and participation into actionable outcomes in line with a HRBA.

Read Paper 1: Rethinking a Human Rights-based Approach to SSR

 & Paper 2: Interpreting International Norms for a More Impactful Human Rights-based Approach (HRBA) in SSR

For further information on the Working Group's research, please refer to the Rethinking a Human Rights-based Approach (HRBA) in Security Sector Reform blog

Other Document

ZPSP - Good Practice

Good Practice doc

This document sums-up good practice identified by the ISSAT mission with the ZPSP, as part of the webpage dedicated to the programme, where you can also access fourteen videos illustrating each of the elements described.

This document is part of the ISSAT Case Study on the Zimbabwe Peace and Security Programme (ZPSP)

Other Document

Mapping of Development Partner Support to Justice and Security Sector Reform in Nigeria (Final Report)

This mapping study provides an overview of the various ongoing or planned development partner efforts to support security sector reform in Nigeria since 2014. The mapping was jointly undertaken by the German Federal Foreign Office and ISSAT. The report tracks development partner support to all justice and security sector institutions in Nigeria. The elements of support were organized according to four categories: management reform, accountability reforms, capacity building/training and equipment/infrastructure support. Given the resource and time constraints facing the mapping team, the mapping only covered activities and programme interventions for the period of 2014 to 2016. All future programme activities that were identified were detailed under future support.

Other Document

Baseline Assessment on Strategic Management Capacity in the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Moldova

This report provides an overview of the strategic planning and management capacity in the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Moldova (MIA) in order to inform the design of a potential Swedish-funded programme to support development in this area. The information on which the analysis is based was gathered over the period May-June 2014. 

Other Document

ISSAT 2013 Annual Report

From the Introduction

With the celebration of its fifth anniversary, as a standing capacity to support its Members’ security and justice reform programmes around the globe, ISSAT has established itself as a major contributor to international cooperation in the fields of security and justice reform. ISSAT has continuously developed and adapted its service lines to better suit the needs and requests of Members.

Following on from the trend identified at the end of 2012 in the area of Advisory Field Support, ISSAT has seen an increase in its activities in regions in which it was previously not engaged. This has been the case in North Africa, with two missions in Libya to support the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), and in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), with multiple missions to support the EU, the OECD and Switzerland. Another noticeable trend is the large number of mandates which have rolled over from one year to the next, for example support to the United Kingdom’s annual evaluation of its Security Sector Accountability and Police Reform (SSAPR) Programme in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), UNSMIL’s support in the Libyan Defence White Paper Process, and UNDP Somalia’s Police Programme and support for the Somaliland Observatory of Conflict and Violence Prevention. Similarly, Members have kept their tendency to use ISSAT support for multiple missions as part of a single mandate. This has, for example, been the case of the EU, which requested ISSAT to undertake field missions in eleven Latin American and Caribbean countries over a period of four months.


Other Document

ISSAT 2015 Annual Report

ISSAT Annual Report Screenshot

From the introduction:

The unprecedented number of high profile mandates, activities, and events that ISSAT has been asked to support in 2015 reaffirms that ISSAT is a well-established and an important contributor to SSR policy discourse, supporting bilateral and multilateral SSR programmes, and collating emerging good practice. Equally, the escalating global security and humanitarian crises, which impacted virtually every region and country and have been at the forefront of the international development and security agendas, further reaffirms that the work of ISSAT is well aligned to the contemporary priority needs of the wider international community.


  • Introduction by the Governing Board Chair
  • Supporting Policy Dialogue
  • Supporting Coordination: Forging Partnerships
  • Filling a Growing Demand for Capacity Building
  • Backstopping and Advisory Support
  • Consolidating Knowledge: Refocusing on What Works
  • Top 10 Lessons Identified from ISSAT Mandates
  • Trends and Challenges
  • Capacity and Human Resources
  • Performance
  • Financial Report
  • Overview of Mandates
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Rethinking a Human Rights-based Approach to SSR


This is the first of the three Working Papers by ISSAT's Human Rights-based Approach (HRBA) Working Group that examine the common linkages between the impact and sustainability of SSR projects and the application of a HRBA as defined by the EU and UN. Working Paper 1 sets the base for the rest by presenting the state of SSR and describing how a HRBA can be reinforced.

For further information on the Working Group's research, please refer to the Rethinking a Human Rights-based Approach (HRBA) in Security Sector Reform blog

Read the next in the series - Paper 2: Interpreting International Norms for a more Impactful Human Rights-based Approach (HRBA) in SSR

Other Document

ISSAT Gender and SSR Report (2016)

DCAF-ISSAT aims to incorporate gender sensitivity throughout its work. This report on gender and SSR in DCAF-ISSAT's work for 2016 highlights how we have incorporated gender aspects in:

  • our Member's national policy thinking
  • partner country thinking on their national security strategy 
  • programming 
  • training
  • advocacy and outreach
  • knowledge products
  • gender sensitive representation
Other Document

Police Reform in Northern Ireland

This presentation was delivered at the September 2013 Workshop on Police Reform and Development held in Tripoli by the Libyan Ministry of Interior and UNSMIL.

Briefly covers the build-up to the 'Troubles', the 1998 Belfast Agreement, application of possible lessons from Northern Ireland to the Libyan context, and a useful graphical overview of the reform process.

Also available in Arabic.

Other Document

ISSAT 2015 Interim Report

Interim Report

Read ISSAT's short interim report, to get updated on ISSAT’s activities and key highlights over the last few months.  A full Annual Report for 2015 will be sent out in early 2016.

Other Document

Common criminal-justice needs and related institutional factors

The table in this document provides an overview of frequently identified criminal justice needs, particularly in post-conflict and other fragile contexts, and typical institutional factors that account for why the actors directly cause the needs in question or why they do not meet these needs caused by others.

Other Document

Cartographie du soutien des bailleurs à la RSS au Mali (Rapport Final)

L'ISSAT, en coordination avec l'Allemagne, a développé une série de cartographies complètes relatives au soutien des bailleurs à la RSS au Mali. Celle-ci s'est penchée sur le système de justice pénale, incluant les mesures de transparence. Avec pour objectif de consolider les compétences allemandes en RSS, une équipe conjointe Allemagne-ISSAT a développé la méthodologie et réalisera les infographies.     

La méthodologie a été finalisée durant un séminaire d'un ou deux jours à Genève, et suivie par une phase de revue préparatoire et par des entretiens par téléphone, mettant à profit le réseau de l'ISSAT parmi les bailleurs bilatéraux et les acteurs multilatéraux. La réflexion se basera sur des ressources déjà existantes. Les résultats ont ensuite été consolidés au cours de deux missions terrain de dix jours dans chacun des pays qui inclura les bailleurs, les partenaires dans la mise en place de la RSS, ainsi que les institutions nationales des secteurs de la sécurité et de la justice, y compris les ministères correspondant. Les rapports ainsi produits ont été partagés par l'équipe conjointe Allemagne-ISSAT au bénéfice des acteurs de la communauté internationale présents dans ces pays à l'occasion d'un séminaire in situ qui a débouché sur des discussions sur la manière dont consolider le soutien international. 

Other Document

Research questions to develop CSO capacity in SSR

These are a set of questions which were used to help build CSO capacity to understand Timorese laws applicable to the security sector. 

Other Document

ZPSP - Narrative Report

Narrative Report doc

This narrative report explores how the ZPSP is fostering change in a context hostile to Security Sector Transformation (SST), and is part of the resources dedicated by ISSAT to the programme.

This document is part of the ISSAT Case Study on the Zimbabwe Peace and Security Programme (ZPSP)

Other Document

ISSAT 2012 Annual Report

Undoubtedly the highlight and challenge of 2012 was the organisation in Nairobi of the High Level Panel (HLP) on SSR in East Africa which brought together both policy makers and practitioners from the region and beyond. This high-visibility event gave ISSAT the opportunity to contribute to SSR in Africa, and to international SSR policy development.

With a slight increase in joint mandates and continuous support to long-term projects over the years, the pace of support to advisory services follows the trends noted throughout 2011. With changing political environments in North Africa, requests from Members have entailed mandates in new contexts and regions, as illustrated by the series of missions recently conducted to reinforce UNSMIL's SSR support in Libya. 2012 also saw two requests for advisory support in Somalia, showing the necessity of SSR processes in post-transitional stabilisation environments. Mandates have also led ISSAT to work in new environments, with current and upcoming missions taking place in Latin America. Having received 23 mandates and conducted 23 missions, it has once again been an extremely demanding and challenging year for ISSAT in the field of advisory support. The complexity of missions has grown significantly over the past 12 months, and the depth and variety of expertise required to support these effectively has considerably increased. To complement the capacity of core staff, the contribution of roster personnel has proven more essential than ever before.

Trends in the field of training have also evolved significantly in 2012...

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ZPSP - Lessons Identified

Lessons Identified doc

This document contains some twenty lessons identified by the ISSAT mission with the ZPSP, as part of the webpage dedicated to the programme. The lessons are organised broadly on process and on programme management.

This document is part of the ISSAT Case Study on the Zimbabwe Peace and Security Programme (ZPSP)

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ISSAT 2014 Annual Report

From the introduction:

Undoubtedly one of the highlights of 2014 was the Africa Forum on Security Sector Reform (SSR), entitled ‘SSR as a Key Component of Stabilisation and Peace-building Processes in Africa’, held in Addis Ababa, 24-26 November 2014.

With 63 mandates and activities undertaken in 2014, the demand for ISSAT services has remained constant. Of particular note is the strong focus on police and justice-related issues. Ten Advisory Support mandates and four Training mandates have focused on police and justice, in addition to the forthcoming ‘Policing and Police Reform’ e-learning course to be launched in 2015. ISSAT has also expanded its geographical reach, working for the first time in Gabon, Moldova, Pakistan and Sierra Leone.

Furthermore, more rigorous internal and financial procedures have been consolidated throughout the year, bringing even greater transparency and more effective project management and operational efficiency to ISSAT’s work.

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Combating Conflict-Related Sexual Violence

Following their presentations at the UN peacekeepers training in New Dehli in February 2018, ISSAT produced an A3 print-out aide memoire to help with remembering the key UN approach, background mandate, and measures to take to combat conflict-related sexual violence. 

You can access and download the infographic, Combating Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, by clicking on the link below. 

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UNMIL Timeline of Key Events 2003-2018


This infographic illustrates the timeline of events for UNMIL between 2003 and 2018. It was created to feature in ISSAT's report Lessons Identified From United Nations Mission in Liberia Support to Rule of Law which was produced as part our mandate Lessons Identification on the Work of UNMIL's Rule of Law Pillar

To view a larger version of the infographic, please click on the file below. 

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Developing a Theory of Change for Justice and Security Sector Reform in Honduras

ISSAT and Swedepeace had a standing engagement in Honduras since 2013 providing technical assistance to the Swiss Agency for Development and Corporation (SDC) and their partners in civil society Alliance for Peace and Justice (APJ), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Secretary of Security of Honduras (SEDS). The Swiss JSSR Team supported the SEDS in their strategic planning by training on and applying a theory of change (ToC). The ToC process was a timely tool for this exercise, as it provided an opportunity to internally reflect on their current planning process and how it will impact externally. The process also allowed for a common understanding for base line to be developed as well as the definition of a desired end-state.

Kindly find the mandate report attached. 

For more information on the mandate Backstopping Support to SDC Honduras (2016-18), kindly follow the link. 

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Monitoring ISSAT’s Commitment to Gender Equality - Pilot Report 2017

In 2018, ISSAT initiated a pilot case-study to demonstrate its commitment to gender equality during the 2017 reporting cycle. The purpose of the pilot report and the case study is to develop a model for internal monitoring of ISSAT’s gender-sensitive approach that would enable senior management to quality control our commitment to gender equality as well as select the most emblematic case studies for internal learning, public dissemination and reporting.

For ISSAT's report on Gender and SSR 2016, kindly follow the link. 

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Media & SSR – A Practical Note for Enhancing Reforms

This ISSAT note describes how media actors engaged in security issues must review their strategies and move beyond crisis messaging towards enhancing media capacity. Media actors should be perceived as Security Sector Reform partners and therefore participate in building a deep and objective understanding of security contexts and trends. It further suggests key entry-points for both media and security actors to address this challenge. 

For full access to Media & SSR – A Practical Note for Enhancing Reforms, please follow the link. 

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