La réforme du secteur de sécurité, entre bureaucraties et stratégie Focus stratégique, No. 51, April 2014
The concept of Security Sector Reform (SSR) was developed during the 1990s as a response to several problems chiefly faced by countries in post-conflict transitions: weak new governments; conflicting civil-military relations; ill-defined division of tasks between the armed forces, the police, and the judiciary system; and tension between the requirements to stabilize the country and to establish the rule of law.
SSR is the product of three distinct institutional traditions (development aid, military cooperation, and democracy promotion). Bureaucratic dynamics have changed the concept and influenced its implementation, leading to a discrepancy between the stated comprehensive ambitions and the more elusive, piecemeal results. The implementation of SSR projects in several post-conflict settings (Sierra Leone, DRC, Afghanistan) has often resulted in either partial success or utter failure. The author presents her vision of a successful SSR: it must stem from a strategic vision that can be readily embraced by the host state and that takes into account local circumstances. It must then be translated into credible policies tailored to practical and operational realities of institutions’ work and to power balances between local forces in play. While implementation requires flexibility (particularly regarding the pace of reforms), the author stresses the importance of mechanisms conducive to a legitimate and credible security sector, such as norm enforcement and incentives for effectiveness.
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