Rose Partners

What is Security Sector Reform?

Security sector reform is an integral part of what Rose Partners do but we’re often queried on the exact purpose of our work. With that in mind, what follows is a clear and concise definition of security sector reform [SSR].

There are several definitions of SSR that vary in their wording but the essence of which are the same. In summary, SSR should be a process of strategically and systematically reforming the wider security sector of a country and developing a holistic response to the security needs of all men, women and children.

When we reference the security sector, we mean all relevant security actors which include the police, military, judiciary, customs, ministries, parliament and non-state actors. Each of these security actors should be guided by people’s security needs in the wider concept of human security and will include national security, such as defence and border controls, with the objective of increasing people’s safety.

In short, SSR should provide a more effective and affordable security sector with increased accountability and transparency.

Where is SSR required?

SSR is an ongoing process to increase people’s safety across both developed and undeveloped countries, although there are many regions that require immediate and robust reform. These regions are normally fragile or post-conflict environments whose people have felt the impact from and suffered the consequences of armed conflict.

Most people will associate SSR as being undertaken during a period of political transition from authoritarian regimes or during the independence, or unification, of states. This is why SSR’s role is integral in peacebuilding and avoiding further conflict. In these scenarios, SSR is often part of, or influenced by, rebuilding social contracts between people and their government.

However, as already mentioned, SSR is also a consistent process across the globe as part of the continuous modernisation and development of the security sector in stable, peaceful countries. This reform is often in response to new political decisions or evolving security threats and challenges.

SSR belongs to the people

National ownership is a key principle to SSR. This doesn’t mean it is state-owned, it means it is an all-inclusive national process to ensure the safety of a populace. SSR requires consistent consultation and engagement with civil society and representatives of every segment of the population.

This all-inclusive, national ownership is essential in enabling any SSR programme’s sustainability and long-term success. This ownership is often the most challenging part of any reform, as those funding or promoting the work may different priorities or expect results in short timeframes.

Rose Partners’ work in SSR

Taking this all into account is why SSR cannot be achieved in a short turnaround and as a result often requires a long-term strategy, which itself needs consistent review and assessment. A dynamic approach is necessary in order to adapt and overcome any challenges that will arise as SSR is implemented.

Rose Partners prides itself on the approaches we take to SSR and the results we see in the immediate adoption of our policies and procedures to the long-term impact of those processes. If you would like to understand more about our SSR work, contact a member of the Rose Partners team today. 

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