Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Is a home-grown security sector reform possible?

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.

SSR in practice
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. [1] 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. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Security Sector Reform in Afghanistan

"Security mechanisms in Afghanistan have been technically re-engineered,
but their sustainability looks arguable."

The thorny Afghan security sector reform (SSR) programme has been a high-profile failure when resources and results are compared (see studies such as Barakat & Zyck, 2009; Murray, 2011 and Sedra, 2006, 2013). Conflicting internal power groups and competing external roles was further aggravated by fragmented and incomprehensive approach in SSR in Afghanistan. Donors divided their responsibilities (the US for the military, Germany for the police, Italy for justice, the UK for illegal narcotics, and Japan for DDR) but their jobs overlapped at times. Germany trained ‘professional’ police, later the US involved in creating patrolling police. Police reform programmes streamlined only after the European Union Police (EUPOL) mission arrived in 2007 which worked with the US military’s Combined Security Transition Command–Afghanistan (CSTC-A) (Murray, 2011). After 2008, the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) took charge of all military and police training and the EUPOL looked after civilian police training. Leadership and ministerial capacities received attention only after this period (Sedra, 2013).

The US government tried to boost parliamentary oversight capacity since 2008 through Afghanistan Parliamentary Assistance Program. But it decanted huge money into the military and police than in the development (US security assistance in 2011 was 20 times higher than its development assistance) (Murray, 2011). Military model was applied to police reform and recruitment measures; training and deployment were emphasised over penal and legal reform. It capitalised effectiveness of agencies over their democratic governance and accountability (Murray, 2011; Sedra, 2006). National security overrode human security where pouring in of large chunk of resource into counter-insurgency ventures were mistaken for SSR. Besides, the ‘pressure for withdrawal in donor countries’ and ‘imperatives of winning the war’ (Sedra, 2013) eclipsed the gamut of SSR principles and efforts were unilaterally guided by anti-terrorism not peacebuilding principles.

Murray (2011) and Sedra (2006, 2013) are critical of the strategic planning formulated in NATO and EU headquarters with less input from host government and public dialogues. Local adaptation of SSR was not possible without understanding primordial orientation, political history and cultural inheritance. Informal legal practices and cultural orientation were at odds with the ‘liberal’ mindsets of the donors. Consequently, constitutionally enshrined civilian control remained ineffective in everyday decisions.

Conventional ‘train-and-equip’ (Sedra, 2013) form of security restructuring obscured democratic governance, human rights, parliamentary oversight and sustainability. DDR programme demobilised 61,000 soldiers till 2005 and collected 36,000 SALWs with inclusion of large number of deserting rebels into the police (Sedra, 2006). But compared to police and penal bodies, Afghan National Army fared well in terms of organisational skills and morale. Exception is a perception which believes that the SSR failed to depoliticise and de-ethnicise the security sector (ibid). In nut-shell, existing security structure was technically re-engineered but its sustainability looks costly for the Afghan economy because a serious resource crunch is imminent.
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For a comparative analytical perspective, see: DoI: 10.1080/21647259.2016.1156813

Recommended citation: Ghimire, S. (2016). Making Security Sector Reform Organic: Infrastructure for Peace as an Entry Point? Peacebuilding. http://doi.org/10.1080/21647259.2016.1156813

References
Barakat, S., & Zyck, S. A. (2009). The Evolution of Post-conflict Recovery. Third World Quarterly, 30(6), 1069–1086. http://doi.org/10.1080/01436590903037333
Murray, T. (2011). Security Sector Reform in Afghanistan, 2002-2011: An Overview of a Flawed Process. International Studies, 48(1), 43–63. http://doi.org/10.1177/002088171204800103
Sedra, M. (2006). Security sector reform in Afghanistan: The slide towards expediency. International Peacekeeping, 13(1), 94–110. http://doi.org/10.1080/13533310500424868
Sedra, M. (2013). The hollowing-out of the liberal peace project in Afghanistan: the case of security sector reform. Central Asian Survey, 32(3), 371–387. http://doi.org/10.1080/02634937.2013.843387