Author: Matt Cohen

A New Leader in International Support to Security Sector Reform: Exploring the Experience and Potential Role of Japan

Few countries have undergone security sector reform more profoundly than Japan after World War II, yet Japan has not been a leading voice in this field, despite a foreign policy centered on human security and institution building. A new international SSR assistance platform would enable Japan to support enhanced governance, oversight, and professionalism of the security sectors of fragile states while further raising its profile in UN peacekeeping and the sustaining peace agenda.

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Publication Announcement

The CSG is pleased to announce the publication of a new CSG Paper by CSG Fellow Branka Marijan. It is the second of two papers on Bosnia-Herzegovina and the product of a wider series of papers that has come out of a multi-year research project

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Crimes of the Powerful in Conflict-Affected Environments: False Positives, Transitional Justice and the Prospects for Peace in Colombia

This post examines the recent false positives scandal in Colombia, which involved the arbitrary execution of thousands of poor, marginalised civilians, by Army personnel. It is argued that peacebuilding efforts will be unsuccessful without addressing impunity, deficiencies in the security sector, and socio-economic inequalities which led to these crimes.

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Police Reform in Kosovo and Bosnia: The power of local legitimacy unpacked

The power of legitimacy is increasingly invoked by scholars, practitioners, and donors as a crucial prerequisite for any international peacebuilding project. This short article disenchants the almost magical powers accorded to legitimacy via three research findings: First, it shows the causal mechanism behind legitimacy’s impact; second, legitimacy works only in certain contexts and situations; third, it is the only direct power international peacebuilding operations wield.

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Canada, Peace Operations & SSR

A new blog series which explores the security sector reform (SSR) dimension of Canada’s planned re-engagement with peacekeeping and peace operations in Africa. This four-part series focuses on the main options being speculated upon for troop deployment: Mali, the Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

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Police Reform in Iraq: Challenges and Lessons Learned (Part 2)

CSG’s Antoine Vandemoortele continues the interview with Paul Biddle, Strategic Police Advisor to the UK Embassy in Baghdad, the Coalition Joint Task Force Operation “Inherent Resolve” and the Governor of Anbar in Iraq between February and May 2016. Part II addresses issues of lessons learned and future areas of work to create a sustainable policing model in Anbar province.

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Is a homegrown security sector reform possible?

This article seeks to examine the determinants of security sector reform outcomes in post-conflict countries and assess the potential of the ‘infrastructures for peace’ framework in restructuring the security sector. It argues that security restructuring is less viable merely with informal architectures and that creating multi-layered infrastructures is essential.

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Does SSR improve security in developing countries?

Many millions have been spent trying to reform the security sector in developing countries. But have these investments paid off? Are security actors more accountable, responsive and able to deliver for their communities? Perhaps most importantly, are people safer as a result?

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Security Sector Reform & Hybrid Security Governance In Africa

Prevailing approaches to security sector reform (SSR) have tended to stress Westphalian notions of the state characterized by legal-rational norms and institutions. Thus, SSR processes concentrated on the formal arrangements of the state and its security and justice institutions. Yet, such approaches are fundamentally at variance with the underlying realities of the African context, where many political and social transactions take place in the context of informal norms and systems.

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Measuring Security: Homicide as an Indicator of State Capacity In Oil-Producing States

How do you measure security? Measuring security is a challenging concept due to a variety of factors such as a lack of good data, difficulty in operationalizing complicated social issues, and the specific aspects to focus on are just a few examples. In an effort to unravel and test some of the available sources that may (or may not) lead to better insights into police and, more broadly, state governance performance, a colleague and I began an initial examination of the validity of homicide rates as an indicator of state security. Africa, with its range of states, allows for a deeper exploration within each national context.

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The Political Dynamics of Security in Fragile States

In many fragile societies state security organizations serve the interest of ruling elites in maintaining political power or their own institutional interests. What they often provide little of is security for ordinary people. This depressing situation is the result of a complex mix of factors including legacies of violence, underdeveloped institutions, personalized rule, profit-​making opportunities in settings of low growth, and high inequality, as well as high levels of political factionalism.

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Women’s Participation in Communal Justice in Rural Bangladesh

In many developing countries women continue to be marginalized and discriminated, which has propelled the issue of women empowerment into a key component of development policy interventions. However, there exists a lack of analysis on the issue of women’s leadership, particularly on whether women have any influence once in a position of leadership.

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Prospects for Peace & Security in Myanmar

Is DDR the appropriate tool, program, policy and/or approach for durable conflict mediation and peacebuilding in Myanmar? This article builds on a previous article by Helena Gronberg on the DDR dilemma facing Myanmar

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Is the time ripe for DDR in Myanmar?

In late 2015 a nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) was signed between the government of Myanmar and eight of the 15 rebel groups active in the country. Although seven armed groups (including the largest insurgent forces) refused to sign the NCA, the ceasefire was a welcomed step in the current peace process. The process was launched by the civilian government that came to power in 2011 following decades of military rule, and is the first, since 1963, to invite all armed groups to participate.

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Innovative Approaches to Security and Justice Programming

The Overseas Development Insitute (ODI) hosted a series of seminars to discuss key conceptual and practical issues related to security and justice programming. The series was held in 2014 and 2015 and hosted international experts on several security related issues. The events promoted debates and knowledge sharing that aim to increase the practice and the programming in the security sector.

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Law Enforcement and Perverse Effects: The Evolution of the Central American Maras

Crime and law enforcement are often entwined in a co-evolutionary process by which the actions of one prompt behavioral changes by the other that demand new strategies from the initial actor. While this dynamic is often recognized and anticipated by both law enforcement and criminal groups, it frequently yields perverse effects – unintended (and generally unforeseen) outcomes that exacerbate the very issue they were deployed to remedy (or create new problems). The evolution of the Central American youth gangs known as the maras provides a highly informative example of this phenomenon.

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Local and External Perceptions of Security Sector Reform in Guinea-Bissau

For almost ten years, the small West African country of Guinea-Bissau has been subject to security sector reform as part of international peacebuilding interventions. Since gaining independence in 1973-74, the former Portuguese colony has been characterized by political instability, coups d’état, military overthrow attempts, and the interference of military factions within politics.

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