Modern Post-Conflict Security Sector Reform in Africa: Patterns of Success and Failure

  • Citation: Detzner, Sarah. “Modern Post-Conflict Security Sector Reform in Africa: Patterns of Success and Failure.” African Security Review 26, no. 2 (2017): 116–42.
    • Topics:
    • Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding
    • Keywords:
    • SSR
    • peacebuilding
    • African Union
    • disarmament
    • demobilisation
    • and deintegration (DDR)

This piece examines recurring patterns in the ‘where’ and ‘how’ of security sector reform (SSR) implementation failures in post-conflict African SSR programmes featuring substantial external involvement that have been undertaken since the mid-1990s. It finds, briefly that in these efforts, gaps in SSR implementation have tended to occur at the same points in the SSR process repeatedly. The most common issues include failures to correctly assess the post-conflict security environment, failures to ensure local ownership of reform efforts, failures to devote sufficient resources and attention to disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR, a process with close ties to SSR and force integration), failures by donors to coordinate goals and resources, and failures to include critical parts of both the de jure and de facto security sector in reforms. Post-conflict African success stories also share common characteristics, most notably a deep and wide level of societal involvement at most stages of the SSR process. These patterns, analysed as a necessary first step to discovering the ‘why’ of implementation failures in such cases, collectively suggest a focus on the early mobilisation of domestic political demand for SSR, rather than on varying methods of applying external pressure, as a fruitful avenue for future research.

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