Security sector reform (SSR) has been a topic of debates since the 1990s, notably because of the lack of local ownership and other challenges related to the implementation of SSR policies on the ground. In this context, this article succinctly discusses what determined SSR outcomes and whether the ‘infrastructures for peace’ framework can complement the orthodox SSR model. It first frames SSR debates, revisiting the experiences of post-conflict countries before introducing the idea of ‘infrastructures for peace’ and discussing its potential to contribute to SSR efforts. Finally, it reflects on the possibilities of bridging orthodox SSR and ‘infrastructures for peace’ approaches.
Experiences of post-conflict countries reflect negotiations between internal realities and external intervention models. SSR policies are expected to contribute to state building and peace building processes. At a policy level, they are expected to lead recovery processes towards democratisation and participatory state institutions. At an institutional level, they are designed to create new bodies and restructure existing ones with mandates based on public participation and meritocracy. However, the effective and successful implementation of SSR policies has remained a daunting task in several countries.
For example, SSR policies in Afghanistan emphasized training and security assistance over governance and accountability. The ‘imperatives of winning the war’ and counterterrorism efforts were prioritized over SSR and peace building principles.  SSR in Bosnia and Herzegovina was imbalanced because defence restructuring was substantial while police reform had limited impact. Nepal and Kosovo showed just the opposite result. Internal political horse-trading shaped the depth and breadth of police and army restructuring in both places, as did fragmented donor interests in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The sustainability of SSR policies in Georgia and Liberia remains doubtful because of the replication of international standards. Indifference towards public participation was observable in Liberia, where international authorities performed technical jobs and blamed local political actors for unresolved political issues.