Monday, February 16, 2015

Understanding Security Sector Governance

Security sector refers to the cluster of state or non-state institutions that are responsible to protect citizens, maintain peace and implement rule of law. Dupont et al. (2003: 332) state that such institutions can be formal or informal, or even commercial or voluntary. Examples include the military, police, paramilitary forces, line ministries and private security companies. In the same vein, security sector governance (SSG) can be understood as the manner, process and power of governing these institutions.

Though sounding similar, 'security governance' (SG) and 'security sector governance' (SSG) offer conceptually different meanings. Security governance incorporates the governance of all security-related issues (i.e. economic security, political security, human security, food security, international security, nuclear security etc.). But security sector governance specifically includes the governance of actors involved in direct security provisions. Hänggi (2003) distinguishes that security sector governance combines the concepts of 'security' and 'governance' at the state level (p. 8) whereas security governance may include trans-boundary 'security architectures' (p. 9). Thus, the issues in security sector governance remain national (even though international actors may be involved in it) whereas those in security governance may also be transnational.

The notion of ‘governance’, rather than ‘government’ has been important now as modern states share their authorities largely with non-state actors (Bryden et al., 2005: 3). Thus, analysing security from merely state actors’ lens will be scientifically insufficient to respond to the complexity of issues as long as security sector governance encompasses not only local, but also global actors. To date, both ‘security’ and ‘governance’ have been researched widely in social science. Yet, the concept of ‘security sector governance’ is just in its ‘formative stage’ (Hänggi, 2003: 4).
Concepts on security discourse in the late twentieth century were insufficient to include multifaceted dynamics of security. Civil-military relations (CMR) focused on armed forces’ relations with people whereas security sector reform (SSR) focused on institutional arrangements and purely technical reforms. They both assume security to be an internal matter and are silent on external influence.  But in the wake of global security discourse, SSG has triggered all territorial levels of interactions, from local to national and global (Bagayoko, 2012; Bryden et al., 2005: 3). This necessitated understanding of the relationships between various actors and beneficiaries in security sector. Analysing such actors' involvement in a sensitive period such as post-war has also been indispensable in security research.
The vitality of SSG has been increasingly realised after failures of many peace processes across the globe. The UN Secretary General's report had once mentioned that "roughly half of all countries that emerge from war lapse back into violence within five years".[1] One of its reasons is the poor management of security apparatus and politico-economic impunity which weaken actors to assure adequate security. Ball (2004: 510) adds that politicisation of security and justice in post-war period undermines democratic consolidation of security actors. Therefore, it is essential to assure that security actors are guided by democratic principles to ensure not only post-war security, but also social cohesion and economic prosperity. This is why some of the authors (Ball, 2004; Bryden & Caparini, 2006; Cole, Eppert, & Kinzelbach, 2008; Rokvić & Ivaniš, 2013) associate ideal security sector governance with the components of 'Good Governance Principles'[2].
Achieving ideal security sector governance encompasses policy to practical reforms. Civilian control and public oversight on armed forces, strong intelligence agencies, predictive defence bodies (ministry and the military), analytical and proactive agencies on home affairs (ministry, police and other constitutionally recognised armed forces) and right-sized security budget are some of the characteristics of ideal security sector governance. Such a governance system clearly answers who controls security agencies and how the responsibility and accountability of the armed forces towards people are ensured? But war undermines such characteristics in weak countries. It necessitates reforms in security sector, reframing the people–armed forces relations and redefining national security policies. As a result, security sector governance becomes part and parcel of post-war recovery.
Bagayoko, N. (2012). Introduction: Hybrid Security Governance in Africa. IDS Bulletin, 43(4), 1–13. doi:10.1111/j.1759-5436.2012.00330.x
Ball, N. (2004). Reforming security sector governance. Conflict, Security & Development, 4(3), 509–527. doi:10.1080/1467880042000320041
Bryden, A., & Caparini, M. (2006). Private Actors and Security Governance. Geneva: LIT and DCAF.
Bryden, A., Donais, T., & Hänggi, H. (2005). Shaping a Security Governance Agenda in Post-conflict Peacebuilding (No. 11) (p. 25). Geneva: Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, DCAF.
Cole, E., Eppert, K., & Kinzelbach, K. (2008). Public Oversight of the Security Sector: A Handbook for Civil Society Organization. Valeur, Slovak Republic: UNDP and DCAF.
Dupont, B., Grabosky, P., & Shearing, C. (2003). The Governance of Security in Weak and Failing States. Criminal Justice, 3(4), 331–349. doi:10.1177/146680250334001
Hänggi, H. (2003). Making Sense of Security Sector Governance. In H. Hänggi & T. H. Winkler (Eds.), Challenges of Security Sector Governance (pp. 1–24). Geneva: DCAF & LIT Verlag.
Rokvić, V., & Ivaniš, Ž. (2013). Parliamentary Oversight of the Security Sector in Serbia. Problems of Post-Communism, 60(1), 55–61. doi:10.2753/PPC1075-8216600105

[1] 'Larger freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all', Report of the Secretary General, United Nations General Assembly, UN Doc. A/59/2005/Add.2 (23 May 2005), p. 31.
[2] Visit to know more about this principle.

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