Skip to main content


Back to Blog

Our research has found over 300 SSG-programmes currently active in Ukraine


By Richard Steyne.

The onset of civil unrest in Ukraine in 2013 and the Russian Federation’s subsequent annexation of Crimea have made Ukraine the subject of intense international attention for several years. Among the array of internationally and nationally-funded assistance and development programmes now in motion in Ukraine, a growing subset is focusing on governance issues, in particular related to the rule of law, security sector governance (SSG) and democratic oversight.

More than 300 such programmes today are either active or have recently closed, yet until now, no one has attempted to comprehensively map the landscape of SSG-related assistance. As a consequence, there has been project duplication, saturation, and missed opportunities for cooperation and collaboration between donors and national NGOs, all of which are barriers to the success of international engagement in Ukraine.

Thanks to financial support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, DCAF has now published the first such mapping study, called Supporting Ukraine’s Security Sector Reform: Mapping Security Sector Assistance Programmes. This Study builds upon previous DCAF/ISSAT mapping studies on Nigeria and Mali, as well as a 2015 DCAF-supported Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA) study on security sector reform in Ukraine.

This latest study spotlights the complex array of SSG-programmes that are under way in Ukraine and, by extension, facilitates planning for 2018-2020 SSR programming. This will help avoid project duplication, identify options for more strategic distribution of funds, better synthesize cross-cutting thematic issues, and provide new entry-points for donor engagement. It seeks to achieve this by: 1) identifying international projects in the field of rule of law, security sector reform (SSR) and democratic oversight of the security sector, as well as national project implemented and funded by Ukrainian institutions; and 2) providing thematic-based recommendations resulting from identified challenges and gaps in reform and governance programming in Ukraine.

The study’s key findings and recommendations demonstrate that a concerted effort is required by international and national donors and NGOs to better cooperate on existing programming, ensure local ownership and sustainability, and increase engagement in other thematic areas, such as, for example, on the UN’s Women, Peace and Security agenda. Indeed, almost two decades after the unanimous endorsement of UNSC Resolution 1325 by the UN’s Security Council – our study demonstrates that, in Ukraine, such ambitions have not stimulated more engagement in the problem. For example, only 12 internationally-funded projects identified focus on gender, or include specific gender-specific components. Of even greater concern, though, is that it could not identify any standalone gender-equality projects implemented by Ukrainian national authorities, a fact that threatens the sustainability of the limited, existing, international assistance in this area. 

Other key findings demonstrate that further efforts are needed to align the common perceptions of security threats among Ukrainians with the aims of international SSG programming. For example, while DCAF-supported public perception surveys consistently identify corruption as the main security concern of Ukrainians, we found that only 1.3 percent of current international assistance (or €26,152,370) is committed to the theme of anti-corruption and building integrity. Beyond thematic-specific recommendations, the study has the potential to empower civil society to better monitor donor activities and outcomes in Ukraine, and promote discussion on the importance of security sector reform and governance for the future stability and prosperity of the country.

Looking forwards, DCAF will continue to support security sector reform in Ukraine, maintaining that a democratically run, accountable and efficient security sector is fundamental to people’s livelihoods, to reducing poverty and the risk of conflict, and to creating an enabling environment for sustainable development.

Such efforts include a rollout of the multi-year Ukraine Phase II Project, funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which seeks to build on the current study by supporting progress on bringing draft security sector legislation and strategic security policies in Ukraine into line with international and European norms and standards on security sector governance.

Photo: OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine

Richard Steyne
Richard Steyne is a Project Assistant at DCAF supporting its role as the chair of the Security Sector Reform Working Group within the NATO Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes (PfPC), with a particular focus on Military Justice and Intelligence Oversight. He was one of two lead authors of the mapping study titled Supporting Ukraine's Security Sector Reform Mapping Security Sector Assistance Programmes.