Security Sector Reform (SSR) is the political and technical process of improving state and human security by making security provision, management and oversight more effective and more accountable, within a framework of democratic civilian control, rule of law and respect for human rights. The goal of SSR is to apply the principles of good governance to the security sector.
SSR concerns all state and non-state actors involved in security provision, management and oversight, and emphasizes the links between their roles, responsibilities and actions. SSR also involves aspects of justice provision, management and oversight, because security and justice are closely related.
SSR can include a wide range of different reform activities covering all political and technical aspects of security, including, among others, legislative initiatives; policy making; awareness-raising and public information campaigns; management and administrative capacity building; infrastructure development; and improved training and equipment.
Security Sector Governance (SSG) refers to the process by which accountable security institutions supply security as a public good via established transparent policies and practices.
Accountability of security institutions is affected by democratic oversight performed by a range of stakeholders including democratic institutions, government, civil society and the media.
Security sector reform is the process by which security institutions are subordinated to oversight mechanisms, vetting and lustration in order to deliver transparent and accountable public services as a public good. Security sector governance reinforces the rule of law.
The ‘OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security’ was adopted in 1994. It is a politically binding instrument that calls for the democratic control not only of the military, but also other security forces including paramilitary, police and intelligence services. The Code considers democratic control of the security sector to be an essential element for stability and security.
The concepts of good governance and human rights are mutually reinforcing. Human rights principles not only provide a set of values to guide the work of governments and other political and social actors, but also a set of performance standards against which these actors can be held accountable. Moreover, human rights principles inform the content of good governance efforts in the development of legislative frameworks, policies, programmes, budgetary allocations and other measures.
The blueprint for gender and peacekeeping work for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) is rooted in Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000), the first Resolution to address the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women. The resolution stresses the importance of women’s equal and full participation as active agents in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peacebuilding and peacekeeping.
Democratic governance of the security sector and human development are crucial to securing peace and public accountability: human development will be held back in any country where the military, police and other security-related institutions hold sway over democratic institutions, are not democratically accountable for much of their power, or are fragmented and anarchic.
2005 Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1713 ‘Recommendation on Democratic Oversight of the Security Sector in Member States’
The Assembly, conscious of the fact that the proper functioning of democracy and respect for human rights are the Council of Europe’s main concern, recommends that the Committee of Ministers prepare and adopt guidelines for governments setting out the political rules, standards and practical approaches required to apply the principle of democratic supervision of the entire security sector in member states.
The OECD reference papers outline that a democratic and accountable security system helps prevent the outbreak and recurrence of violent conflict and provide the basis of stability for economic and social development. This marks a major shift in donor attention as donors acknowledge the importance of these issues for governance and hence for creating the right conditions for poverty reduction.