Security Sector Reform, Local Ownership and Community Engagement

Security Sector Reform, Local Ownership and Community Engagement

I’ve just had an article published in Stability Journal on ‘Security Sector Reform, Local Ownership and Community Engagement’ should anyone be interested in this subject: Gordon, E 2014. Security Sector Reform, Local Ownership and Community Engagement. Stability: International Journal of Security and Development 3(1):25, DOI:


Local ownership is widely considered to be one of the core principles of successful Security Sector Reform (SSR) programmes. Nonetheless, there remains a gap between policy and practice. This article examines reasons for this gap, including concerns regarding limited capacity and lack of expertise, time and cost constraints, the allure of quantifiable results and quick wins, and the need to ensure that other principles inherent to SSR are not disregarded. In analysing what is meant by local ownership, this article will also argue that, in practice, the concept is narrowly interpreted both in terms of how SSR programmes are controlled and the extent to which those at the level of the community are actively engaged. This is despite policy guidance underscoring the importance of SSR programmes being inclusive and local ownership being meaningful. It will be argued that without ensuring meaningful and inclusive local ownership of SSR programmes, state security and justice sector institutions will not be accountable or responsive to the needs of the people and will, therefore, lack public trust and confidence. The relationship between the state and its people will be weak and people will feel divorced from the decisions that affect their security and their futures. All this will leave the state prone to further outbreaks of conflict. This article will suggest that the requisite public confidence and trust in state security and justice sector institutions, and ultimately, the state itself, could be promoted by SSR programmes incorporating community safety structures.

2 thoughts on “Security Sector Reform, Local Ownership and Community Engagement

  1. jfcurtis

    Great article! In the case of cote d’Ivoire where i come from, SSR as a prerequisite to post-crisis development is tackled but unfortunately, the local ownership and understanding is missing greatly. Moreover community engagement is weak or inexistent. SSR is understood as buying new weapons and creating elite forces. To this day only sensitization has been achieved to a certain degree but its implementation is weak and misunderstood even by the people in charge. For instance the monitoring mechanism of the SSR policy implementation is biased and ineffective. There is a lack of independence and objectivity in the assessment made by the government.



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