Category: Academic Spotlight

About the Series
The Academic Spotlight blog series features recent research findings on security sector reform and security governance published in international relations academic journals. It provides a venue to promote discussion within the academic-policy nexus and develop opportunities to share and exchange on key SSR issues and themes. The blog posts published in this series summarize new research findings and build on recent developments on 2nd generation SSR and doing security & justice differently. They help shape the debates on security sector reform in fragile and conflict-affected countries and are a great way to maximize the impact of academic research and reach a wider policy community.

The Centre for Security Governance has developed partnerships with prominent academic journals, including Conflict, Security & Development, International Peacekeeping, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding and Stability: International Journal of Security & Development. As part of these partnerships, some of these articles are available for six months free and open access exclusively through links provided directly in the blog posts. This is an innovative way to promote and disseminate research findings!

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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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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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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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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Theorizing corruption in the Afghan judicial sector

The purpose of this blog is to identify and analyze the dynamics of corruption at its systemic roots that has led to forms of state capture, low pay resulting in petty forms of corruption and issues with training within the Afghan judicial sector. The paper relies on 70 semi-structured interviews conducted predominantly in Kabul with judicial reform and human rights organizations, rights-based and gender empowerment non-governmental organizations and civil society watchdogs.

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Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration: Does ownership actually matter?

The outcomes of programs for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) are affected by the way in which they are implemented. More participatory approaches, where ex-combatants feel they have had more say and greater ownership, lead to better results. This is important for how DDR can contribute to the wider peace process and to peacebuilding itself. Establishing trust during DDR is significant for political reconstruction.

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The Afghan National Police: A study on corruption and clientelism

This blog identifies the underlying conditions of the Afghan state from the outset of the late 2001 Bonn political arrangement that has resulted in deep-rooted corrupt clientelistic networks within the Afghan government. This has trickled to the majority of the ministries including the Interior Ministry. Corruption is systemic and hard to combat despite police reform. This is due to the nature of four interrelated explanations of corruption that are subsequently covered.

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The domestic consequences of SSR: Real-world effects beyond external perspectives

Local ownership has always been central to the theory of security sector reform (SSR) in post-conflict contexts – practically every policy concept in circulation among bilateral donors or multilateral institutions makes local ownership of the reform agenda a sine qua non for external support to SSR. But these calls for local ownership echo hollow against the underwhelming results and unintended consequences of external support to SSR across a growing universe of cases.

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A sub-national approach to statebuilding and security: the role of municipal institutions in Colombia’s DDR process

The Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration (DDR) process in Colombia was built nationally, but it was consolidated at the sub-national level. The Mayoral Offices of Bogota and Medellin developed programmes for the reintegration of ex-combatants that played a crucial role in both sustaining and contesting the national policy of reintegration. Analyzing these policies contributes to the understanding of the role that municipal authorities play in underpinning and redefining the DDR national policies.

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Urban Gangs Make Comeback as Political Goons in Haiti

It is commonly perceived that the motivation of Haiti’s urban gangs has changed from political to criminal – falsely so as my research has found. Rather, the function gangs fulfill for their sponsors is constantly shifting between political and criminal, as evidenced by the current re-emergence of political violence ahead of elections later this year.

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With Elections Looming, will Haiti’s Urban Gangs Re-emerge as Political Actors?

As Haiti enters a turbulent period of electoral politics, the country’s long-standing drivers of conflict take on a particular significance. Gangs have figured prominently in Haiti’s recent political transitions, as national-level political actors have deployed urban gangs to generate violence and unrest as a strategic instrument of political influence. In return, politicians have offered gangs funding and impunity from arrest. The nexus of politics and organized crime is explored in this article.

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Violent Non-State Actors and Complementary Governance: What ISIS, Hizballah and FARC Have in Common

In the absence of a strong state, insurgents, traffickers or tribal warlords may provide political and socioeconomic goods through arrangements we characterize as ‘complementary governance.’ When formulating an effective response to this security challenge, policymakers and researchers must account for the complex connections and interactions between multiple non-state governing entities.

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Did PRTs in Afghanistan Decrease Security for Aid Workers?

In an effort to curtail the insurgency in Afghanistan, the US military and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) blended military and humanitarian operations, much to the dismay of many within the nongovernmental organization (NGO) community. One of the major debates surrounding this effort concerns the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) initiative, which several NGOs have faulted for causing “blurred lines” between military and aid activity.

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Security and insecurity in a police state: Security Sector Reform in the occupied Palestinian territories and the law of unintended consequences

As a wave of protests swept through the Arab world in 2010–11, the relative stability of the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) largely escaped international attention. In a marked break with the unrest and massive sustained popular mobilizations of the past, no significant opposition emerged to challenge the status quo in the oPt, even though dissatisfaction with the status quo runs high in the territories.

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DDR in Darfur: Progress, Challenges and Outlook

After a long delay, the DDR process in Darfur has seen some progress over the past several months with disarmament and demobilization of ex-combatants from former rebel movements who decided to join the peace process, surrender their weapons and return to civilian life

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