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    • BCSP Director trained EU SSR practitioners for assistance in post-conflict context

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    • Date: 25 January 2019

      BCSP Director Sonja Stojanovic Gajic co-delivered specialist course on Security Sector Reform (SSR) as a part of European New Training Initiative for Civilian Crisis Management (ENTRi) from 22-25 January 2019 in Brussels. The training was organised by the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution (ASPR).

      This course focused on introducing participants to the long-term aspects of SSR processes which are linked to the overall recovery effort in a post-conflict context and which play a crucial part in achieving sustainable development and good governance. The participants of ENTRi course on SSR were  civilian advisors and programme managers of SSR processes from the EU bodies  (EEAS, European Council, European Parliament), as well as from the EU and non-EU states that have been or are currently engaged in multilateral or national development organisations and structures, crisis management missions and peace operations managed by the EU, UN and the OSCE, as well as humanitarian workers in the crises areas. Moreover, among the participants there were mid-level, civilian SSR programme staff and advisors to SSR processes from the host countries of SSR efforts, such as Ukraine, Macedonia and Thailand .

      During the course, Stojanovic Gajic shared many of lessons learned by the BCSP work in the area of SSR, including the lessons on civil society involvement in SSR, the coordination among intergovernmental organisations in SSR and civilian capacity in EU crisis management.  The interactive course design enabled both trainers’ and participants’ experience to be valued and practical solutions to be exchanged among participants.

      Following issues were identified and discussed as some of the most pressing challenges in translating long-term approach to SSR into practice:

      • Conceptual assumption of SSR is that the stateis the best model for implementation of security governance, better than non-state providers. The normative concept of security sector reform is based on the assumption that societies are better off with a security sector that is an asset, not an obstacle, to peace, security, development and stability.
      • Donors’limited knowledge of local historical, political and social dynamics can also get in the way of making a positive contribution. This is frequently enhanced with the limited access to relevant local and national information or potentially relevant information gathered but not shared by other international actors.
      • Not matching aspirations (mandates) with reality (conditions in the ground).
      • Lack of a safe environment for both host nation actors in SSR and external interveners e.g. ongoing military conflict and/or structural violence, prevalence of small arms and light weapons, organized crime, activities of armed non-state actors. Challenges such as difficult personal security and working conditions (in terms of weather, equipment or health risks) can hamper performance, especially of external advisers.
      • Narrowly focused assistance on specific components of the security sector (e.g. defence or police) and neglecting other aspects.
      • SSR is reduced to functional capacity-building-‘train and equip’ approach.
      • Neglecting democratic governance and accountability aspect of SSR, working only with security providers.  Failure to prioritise and strengthen democratic institutions and legal frameworks for providing accountability and oversight of the security sector.
      • Failures to ensure local ownership of reform efforts.
      • Neglecting political aspects of Security Sector Reform such asthe power relations in the local security sector and political weight behind their interests.
      • There is a lack of political will. The relevant stakeholders are rhetorically committed to SSR, but in reality they oppose the pursuit of serious SSR efforts. Attempts by local elites in political and security institutions to manipulate the SSR process.
      • There is no common reform visions by all actors involved; local, national and international capacities to sustain reforms once initiated; the assurance of all actors’ sustainable commitment to lengthy and at times struggling reform processes; and strong political leadership and support.
      • The teams’ reputation with local and national counterparts can be damaged by international actors’ preference for cooperating with individuals who are known or later turn out to be corrupt or perpetrators of human rights violations, neglect to lobby political elites and SSR stakeholders in light of fierce and often underestimated political opposition to SSR plans, and - sometimes for well‐ intended practical reasons - resistance to bottom‐up peacebuilding and local ownership despite much rhetorical commitment to the contrary.
      • Engaging only with government institutions, forgetting the non-state actors.
      • External financial, technical and political commitments are not assured and adequate in volume and duration to allow the national and local owners of the SSR process to carry out lengthy yet efficient and sufficient reforms.
      • Working only with the ‘usual suspects’ that deliver, which are trusted and reliable partner organisations and individuals who have successfully been engaged in previous collaborative efforts.

      The special attention during the course was paid to nurturing understanding of different perspectives of civilian and security professionalsengaged in SSR assistance, as well as between local and international actors. The Security Sector Reform course provided participants with the knowledge and skills to carry out a review of the post-conflict context and surrounding, as well as associated reform processes to SSR programmes, such as transitional justice reforms.

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