SCID Panel of Experts – Online Guest Lecture – Jean-François Curtis: Building a National Security Sector Reform Strategy: A Case Study of Côte d’Ivoire

This is the 8th Online Guest Lecture by members of the SCID Panel of Experts. Jean-François Curtis presents a lecture entitled ‘Building a National Security Sector Reform Strategy: A Case Study of Côte d’Ivoire’.

Jean-Francois Curtis Advert - imageThe lecture engages with the issue of building a national SSR strategy based on the Ivorian example, specifically addressing the major definitions of SSR, the historical background of the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, the description of the SSR strategy that was carried out and finally the lessons learned from that SSR process.

The idea is to share the weaknesses and strengths of the Ivorian ongoing experience with SSR and provide lessons that could be useful for SSR programmes being implemented in other post-conflict environments. There are multiple examples of SSR strategies in many contexts and this lecture does not aim to fulfil the impossible task of covering all the issues and problems related to SSR. Instead the lecture gives an insight of what implementing an SSR strategy in an African French-speaking country is like.

Click on the link below to access Jean-François’ Lecture (it is large so it will take a while to download). Please submit any questions or comments within the next two weeks for Jean-François’ attention and/or discussion by other SCID Panel members, students and staff.


4 thoughts on “SCID Panel of Experts – Online Guest Lecture – Jean-François Curtis: Building a National Security Sector Reform Strategy: A Case Study of Côte d’Ivoire

  1. olivierdubs

    Dear jean-françois,

    Your presentation reconfirms the necessity of a tightly controlled change management process for a successful SSR program. I guess this is not unique to Côte D’Ivoire or to SSR, This exactly what is being taught in business school and project management training. I wish I could have been present to ask you the following questions:

    1) Why was the overall plan too ambitious? What were the expectations of the actors ? As you implied it, had the security or police forces considered SSR as a golden opportunity to get more funds or men? Was is a case for President Tuatara to show is good will towards the West ? How influential were the international actors in the design of the project? Have themselves seized the opportunity to make a show-case of good practices incorporating everything possible irrespective of the will and capacity to reform locally?

    2) You insist a lot on external monitoring. Was in not contemplated ab initio in the national strategy? What should be the proper mechanism in Abidjan? Would you derive it from another country?

    Best regards

    Olivier Dubois


    1. jfcurtis

      Dear Olivier, thank you for considering my online guest lecture. Sorry for the late answer. Regarding your questions please find below the answers to each of them:
      – The overall SSR plan is too ambitious because it focused on too many reforms to be achieved in a very short time. It was not realistic to achieve those reforms in that lap of time.
      – The SSR actors had specific expectations but misunderstood what SSR was. Most of their expectations concerned equipment and numbers. In fact the training part of SSR was undermined.
      – Indeed the military forces and the police thought and still think that SSR is a golden opportunity for funds and men! When you take a look at most of the investments made for SSR purpose they concern men (increase in numbers) and equipment (weapons, boats, trucks, etc.).
      – Implementing a SSR policy is a prerequisite for any post-crisis context. In fact President Ouattara launched the SSR because he noticed that it was a major condition for a successful post-crisis initiative. Pleasing the west was not the official reason anyway.
      – The international actors such as ONUCI, helped the government in the SSR policy formulation. Their expertise was appreciated but national actors came with a draft which was presented and amended.
      – International actors insisted in the national ownership of the SSR policy and they encouraged the national actors in formulating the SSR strategy on the basis of their advice.
      – Regarding the external monitoring, it would be more efficient than the one in place because like I said you cannot implement and evaluate yourself with enough balance and unbiased judgement. The idealistic opportunity would be to outsource this activity to a private audit firm for instance. Then you would have a serious and fair monitoring mechanism.


  2. Ishaq Ibrahim

    Hi Jean-François,

    Thank you very much for your excellent and insightful presentation, as well as your other posts that have so much enriched the blog. I take particular interest in your works because they concern a region I am especially interested in. I have a question or two on your current OGL (Online Guest Lecture). First, you mentioned ‘108 planned reforms’ of which only 15% were achieved at the close of 2014. Can you please give a gist of those 108 units, or (if they are too numerous to list) a broader categorization of those, so as to enable me have a view of how the Ivorian reforms are approached in smaller such sub-divisions or tasks. My second question is for you to comment whether the Ivorian SSR strategy has a broader West-African perspective, given that the reforms are taking place at a time when the entire sub-region is confronted with numerous common security challenges, including piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, the Boko Haram menace, the fallout of the Libyan uprising, the Tuareg and sister rebellions in northern Mali, and similar upheavals in the Sahel. I am aware there was a seminar in Abidjan somewhere in 2012 on the topic ‘Towards a Regional Approach in Security Sector Reform’. But I was neither a participant nor did I get possession of any detailed information about the event and its ramifications. Finally, I would very much appreciate if you could give me directions about how to meet you, as I plan to be in Côte d’Ivoire shortly to conduct surveys towards my dissertation.

    Kind regards,
    Ishaq Ibrahim (


    1. jfcurtis

      Hi Ishaq, thank you for your positive comments to my online guest lecture. Please find below the answers to your questions:
      – indeed there were 108 reforms in the following categories: National Security reforms, International Relations and Rule of Law reforms, Democratic Control reforms, Economic Governance reforms, Human and Social reforms and Post-Crisis Reconstruction reforms.
      – Indeed the Ivorian SSR strategy has a broader perspective because it can definitely apply to any post-crisis environments with their specificities to consider.
      – Finally, you can call me when you are in Abidjan. My phone number is 07010978 or you can email me:
      Thank you again for your encouragements!



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