Security sector reform

A functioning, responsible and accountable security sector is a vital component in good governance and improving human security. The security sector is often defined as including:

- armed forces and police, intelligence, border agencies, etc

- oversight bodies (eg ministry of police, defence) and justice system (eg courts, prisons)

- private military and security companies, mercenaries, etc

UN-endorsed standards for law enforcement officials include a Code of Conduct and Basic Principles. In 2006, the UN sub-commission on human rights endorsed principles to prevent human rights abuses by state-employed officials with guns. The OECD has also developed SSR guidelines for practitioners.

Global SSR network

Latest news

A new report on the Lord’s Resistance Army, ‘Ghosts of Christmas Past’ has been launched. It lists a number of recommendations on information sharing and Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR), among other topics. More

23 November marked the first anniversary of the ‘Ampatuan Massacre’ where 57 people were killed by an armed group in Maguindanao province, the Philippines.

10 people were killed when a policeman went on a shooting spree with a G3 assault rifle in Siakango, Kenya on 6 November.

A Resolution has been passed at the UN that establishes an open-ended intergovernmental working group to focus on the regulation of private military and security companies. 

From 25-29 October in Panama City, UNDP and the Central American Integration System (SICA) are holding a ‘knowledge fair’ on security and violence prevention in Central America.

Latest resources

IANSA members in Liberia continue to monitor the election process in the country.

The latest newsletter from the Southern Africa Development Community Council of Non Governmental Organizations (SADC-CNGO) includes a statement condemning recent violence against protesters in Malawi

The use of private military companies has been a source of controversy for many years. The UN has addressed the subject through its human rights system.

The website of the Global Facilitation Network for Security Sector Reform (GFN-SSR) contains research, best practices and contacts for SSR practitioners.

Law enforcement officials (including military) are often trained in 'how' to fire a weapon. These principles provide the basis for 'when' to use a weapon, and more importantly when not to use a weapon.

These rules apply to all law enforcement officials, including police and military personnel employed in a law enforcement capacity (eg crowd control). Article 3 includes restrictions on the use of firearms.

A training video on how to police during elections according to humanitarian and legal standards has been launched by UNREC, the UN regional centre for disarmament in Africa.

These extensive guidelines are intended for practitioners of security system reform (SSR), and include many case studies.

This resolution endorses 15 principles for preventing human rights abuses with guns, including abuses committed by state actors (eg law enforcement) and private citizens.

This paper examines policy options for security system reform (SSR).