pdf Security and Justice Sector Reform Programming in Africa

Author: Nicole Ball, Piet Biesheuvel, Tom Hamilton-Baillie and ‘Funmi Olonisakin
Institution: Department for International Development (DFID)
Publication Date: April 2007
Related Categories:  Security and Justice 


Security and Justice Sector Reform (SJSR) has assumed an increasingly prominent role on the international policy agenda over the last decade.  This review, commissioned by the Africa Conflict Prevention Pool (ACPP) partners, identifies lessons from SJSR programmes between 2001 and 2005 in three areas: 1) coherence 2) effectiveness and 3) impact.  The study was written in 2007 to address the need for high quality interdepartmental monitoring and evaluation of the work of ACPP, however its lessons remain relevant for UK SJSR programme managers and practitioners.

Key Issues:

Reviewing the UK experience of SJSR, the study argues coherence, effectiveness and impact of SJSR interventions will benefit from a strategic approach to the security and justice sector.  Furthermore, national ownership of SJSR reform should be encouraged to increase effectiveness and impact.  The study shows external interventions need to be better harmonised.  It also suggests strengthening ACPP management procedures will give greater coherence and an improved capacity to assess effectiveness and impact.  It will also increase the capacity to deliver effective programmes and maximise their longer-term positive impact.

It is impossible for any government to reform the entire sector simultaneously and it is impossible for any single external actor to support the full range of activities that form part of an SJSR agenda. However, the ability to develop a strategy encompassing the entire sector is essential.  This is because of the complexity of the sector.  It is also because, to be both effective and have a positive longer-term impact, a reform process will need to identify the main security and justice needs and to sequence a series of intervention aimed at addressing those needs.

In order to facilitate the development of a strategic framework, it is essential that the key actors operate on the basis of the same knowledge.  Broader exposure to the SJSR process fosters the habit of interdepartmental cooperation and helps to overcome the difficulty of maintaining a cross-departmental team in the face of rapid staff turnover.

National ownership should be encouraged by promoting host government support for reform, helping national actors clarify their security and justice goals and establishing a process that enables non-governmental actors to participate in SJSR.

Engaging civil society at an early stage in the SJSR process allows them to make valuable contributions to oversight and policy development.  They can also act as a bridge between the host government and external actors, who are more affected by shifts of personnel and inadequate record keeping. 

Reaching agreement among external actors is particularly complex given the political nature of security issues and the sensitivity surrounding individual interventions.  Some donor countries are still cautious about revealing their support to certain sections of the security sector.

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