The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: A Framework to Assess Security Sectors’ Potential Contribution to Stability

June 22nd 2020 - 13:48

State fragility presents an increasing global security threat. For years the international community has spent considerable effort to promote stability, by reforming and strengthening security sectors in fragile and conflict prone states.

These efforts have met with mixed results. Empirical evidence shows that security sector reform missions have frequently failed to bring stability. In fact, when the security sector forms part of (and sustains) dysfunctional security structures, SSR interventions risk further undermining rather than promoting stability. Evidence suggests that a security sector that is accountable and inclusive and abides by the rule of law can effectively provide stability to the state and its people.

To assess security sectors’ potential contribution to stability, our report which has been commissioned by the Team Conflict Prevention from the Dutch Ministry of Defence, offers a security sector assessment framework (SSAF). The SSAF yields a security sector typology of six security sectors based on an empirical mapping of security sectors in 82 countries: the criminal, the repressive, the oppressive, the fragmented, the transitioning and the stable.

The SSAF is intended to facilitate understanding of security sectors by providing a workable frame that helps policymakers better understand how and why security sectors contribute to or undermine stability, and tailor the design of policy accordingly.

Download the report here, or by clicking on the PDF button. 

Dorith Kool is a Strategic Analyst at HCSS, where she contributes to projects commissioned by the Dutch Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs. Her primary focus is on fragile states and the role of the security sector in stabilising conflicts. Her work also includes research on the nexus between water, peace and security in Iraq. In her previous work she looked at the politicisation of peace settlements in Syria and the political dimensions of the humanitarian sector. Her main research interests include geopolitics and the security implications of climate change, hybrid warfare, security resilience and migration. She also has experience working as an Arabic translator.
Dr. Tim Sweijs is the Director of Research at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. He is the initiator, creator and author of numerous studies, methodologies, and tools for horizon scanning, early warning, conflict analysis, national security risk assessment, and strategy and capability development. Tim has lectured at universities and military academies around the world. His main research interest concerns the changing character of contemporary conflict. Tim is a Senior Research Fellow at the Netherlands Defence Academy and an Affiliate at the Center for International Strategy, Technology and Policy in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology.