TRAINING SPOTLIGHT: Security Sector Reform


The concept of ‘security’ has been traditionally viewed in state-centric terms, focusing on the protection of states from conventional military threats. Following the end of the Cold War, however, attention gradually shifted towards the people and their well-being. This had a profound impact on the conceptualization of security and threats to security. As a result, the notion of security came to encompass not only classic military threats but also the need for states to promote and safeguard the livelihoods of their people – what is widely referred to today as human security. The concept of Security Sector Reform (SSR) developed along with this shift towards human security. It explicitly emphasized the linkages between security and development, prompting the development community to redefine its role in the field of security, while also emphasizing the importance of security in the establishment of sustainable peace and development.

International, regional organisations and bilateral actors work towards and together in undertaking SSR projects. In order to underscore the importance of SSR in development and peace, these actors have placed SSR on their agenda through the development of various SSR policies and guidelines. EU missions supporting SSR implement their programmes by following five key principles. 1) Effective democratic control and oversight ensure that security actors operate within a clear legal framework, including effective civilian control. 2) Transparency and openness to apply legal guarantees, which prevent arbitrary decision-making and public access to security sector documentation. 3) Participation of all stakeholders in the reform process, which implies that national security strategies and policies are developed in consultation with all relevant stakeholders. In particular, women’s participation should be ensured. 4) Inclusivity is an important value as the security sector should not discriminate against the inclusion of any particular social group. Finally, 5) effective internal and external accountability systems, which aid in avoiding impunity and the equality of the security sector before the law.

Local ownership is the fundamental approach in implementing SSR and implies that SSR activities must be designed, managed and implemented by local actors instead of external actors. However, in the context of SSR local ownership is not synonymous with government ownership. In this context, it implies that the implementation of SSR involves all relevant stakeholders, including the beneficiaries of security and justice services through a people-centred approach. Thus, SSR should aim at empowering the civic society through participatory and problem-solving approaches that are gender-sensitive and respect human rights standards.

For these reasons, it is highly important to gain an understanding of this concept and to be familiarized with all its different aspects. Our course provides participants with knowledge about concepts and themes of SSR as well as hands-on practical skills to apply in Security Sector Reform programmes for civilian crisis management.