Back to Work with Us

Call for Papers: Civil Society Organizations’ Contributions to SSG/R and Sustainable Development Goal 16

DCAF – Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance is dedicated to improving the security of states and their people within a framework of democratic governance, the rule of law, and respect for human rights. DCAF contributes to making peace and development more sustainable by assisting partner states and international actors supporting these states, to improve the governance of their security sector through inclusive and participatory reforms. It creates innovative knowledge products, promotes norms and good practices, provides legal and policy advice and supports capacity‐building of both state and non‐state security sector stakeholders.

Active in over 70 countries, DCAF is internationally recognized as one of the world's leading centres of excellence for security sector governance (SSG) and security sector reform (SSR). DCAF is guided by the operational principles of neutrality, impartiality, local ownership, inclusive participation, and gender equality. DCAF embraces and promotes values of accountability, excellence, inclusivity, integrity and respect. For more information please visit

The Policy & Research Division (PRDiv) produces empirically-grounded and policy-oriented comparative research on global thematic topics relating to security sector governance. PRDiv is also responsible for working with multilateral organisations, such as the UN and OSCE, to improve and harmonize their security sector governance programming, particularly in the context of the UN’s Sustaining Peace Agenda and Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. Finally, PRDiv conducts research on global approaches to monitoring and evaluating projects related to security sector governance.

Background & Rationale
The UN’s 2030 Agenda is a global action plan for sustainable development and a key priority for the UN and its member states. Currently, little work has been done to link SSG/R with the 2030 Agenda despite there being considerable overlap between the two realms. In this context, DCAF’s Policy and Research Division is conducting a project, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, which focuses on linking SSG/R with the 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in particular SDG16 which relates to peace, justice and strong institutions. SDG16 is made up of 12 sub-components. These sub-components, or “targets”, clarify how one can achieve SDG16, which includes objectives to reduce violence (target 16.1), promote the rule of law (target 16.3), reduce illicit arms flows and combat organized crime (target 16.4), reduce corruption (16.5), develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions (16.6), ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making (16.7), ensure access to information and protect fundamental freedoms (16.10), strengthen institutions to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime (16.A). Many of these targets very neatly align with the objectives of security sector reform.

Against this background, this project zeroes in on how security sector oversight actors contribute to achieving SDG16 and its targets. The main objective of this publication will be to conceptually frame the role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in linking good security sector governance and SDG16. CSOs play an instrumental role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and in holding governments accountable for their commitments to sustainable development. At the same time, they are essential in creating peaceful and just societies and good SSG, through five categories of activities:
o    Awareness raising: Civil society seeks to generate mass public interest in a security issue by providing information about things people would care more about if they were aware of them. This is important because security problems sometimes stem from misunderstandings about the legal and legitimate roles and responsibilities of the security sector. Raising awareness about legal and democratic expectations, obligations and possible dilemmas improves public understanding about security and justice provision and can also generate demand for improvement.
o    Advocacy: Civil society can advocate for better security by presenting relevant decision-makers with solutions to specific security problems or the security concerns of a particular group. Advocacy may include networking, constituent action and public mobilization, agenda-setting and policy design, implementation and monitoring.
o    Monitoring and public oversight: By systematically examining specific security issues or practices in a transparent and consistent way, civil society can monitor and oversee the performance of the security sector. Monitoring and oversight seek to document and analyse the impact of government action and suggest ways to improve it. It is sometimes called the “watch-dog” function because civil society oversight and monitoring can raise the alarm where there is potential abuse or wrong-doing.
o    Fact-finding, research and analysis: Civil society relies on accurate information and coherent analysis to support its engagement on security issues. Through sustained work on security and justice topics, civil society often develops specialist skills and knowledge that can inform policymaking, provide insight into community needs and interests, monitor the security sector more effectively and augment and complement government information and policymaking.
o    Service provision: Civil society sometimes provides services that augment and support state security and justice provision, for example, community cooperation in law enforcement though neighbourhood watches, patrols or community forums, or voluntary emergency response services, such as fire brigades, search and rescue assistance or lifeguarding. Sometimes

This publication will be part of a four-paper series dedicated to linking SSG/R and SDG16, with a focus on oversight actors. The first SSR Paper of this series is available at: In addition to CSOs, this project will entail the publication of two more SSR Papers on the role of parliaments and independent oversight actors. The SSR Papers all have a global focus (and therefore are not bound to specific national contexts). As part of this project, and in addition to the SSR Papers, DCAF will also develop national and regional case studies on the role of CSOs in linking SSG/R to SDG16. DCAF’s objective as part of this project is to highlight the importance of oversight and accountability, captured in target 16.6, in efforts to achieve SDG16.

Publication type
The paper will be published as part of DCAF’s SSR Papers series. SSR Papers are a flagship DCAF publication series intended to contribute innovative thinking on important themes and approaches relating to SSR in the broader context of SSG. Papers provide original and provocative analysis on topics that are directly linked to the challenges of a governance-driven security sector reform agenda. SSR Papers are intended for researchers, policy-makers and practitioners involved in this field. SSR Papers are approximately 30,000 words in length. They are published independently by Ubiquity Press, and are subjected to a double-blind peer review process.

Submission procedure
PRDiv invites you to submit your application to by 27 September 2021 with the subject heading “SSR Paper on CSOs – SDG16”, enclosing:
o    A 500-word abstract
o    An annotated table of contents 
o    A copy of your CV, including a list of publications and indicating your research expertise

We welcome submissions from established but also younger promising researchers.    
Starting date: Upon mutual agreement
Duration: Upon mutual agreement (Expected date of publication is in mid-2022)

The SSR Paper will be compensated with a 5,600 CHF honorarium.

Only candidates whose submission has been short-listed will be contacted.

DCAF is committed to equality of opportunity and encourages submissions from all qualified individuals regardless of sex, age, disability, gender identity, religion, or ethnicity.