Security sector reform

A functioning, responsible and accountable security sector is a vital component in good governance and improving human security. The security sector is often defined as including:

- armed forces and police, intelligence, border agencies, etc

- oversight bodies (eg ministry of police, defence) and justice system (eg courts, prisons)

- private military and security companies, mercenaries, etc

UN-endorsed standards for law enforcement officials include a Code of Conduct and Basic Principles. In 2006, the UN sub-commission on human rights endorsed principles to prevent human rights abuses by state-employed officials with guns. The OECD has also developed SSR guidelines for practitioners.

Global SSR network

Latest news

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS), South Africa, has published a Monograph exploring the role of armed private military and security companies in peacekeeping operations in Africa.

A new report on community security and disarmament in South Sudan is now available. It is based on research conducted in Jonglei, Eastern Equatoria and Western Equatoria

Amnesty International has condemned the use of firearms and live ammunition by police against protesters in Malawi. At least 18 people were killed and 44 injured by gunshots during anti-government demonstrations on 20-21 July.

The private security industry employs twice as many security personnel as governments have police officers, according to the new Small Arms Survey. 

In Pakistan, the Society for The Empowerment of People (STEP) organised a meeting for 30 Police officials from different police stations in Khushab, Pakistan.

Latest resources

IANSA members in Liberia continue to monitor the election process in the country.

The latest newsletter from the Southern Africa Development Community Council of Non Governmental Organizations (SADC-CNGO) includes a statement condemning recent violence against protesters in Malawi

The use of private military companies has been a source of controversy for many years. The UN has addressed the subject through its human rights system.

The website of the Global Facilitation Network for Security Sector Reform (GFN-SSR) contains research, best practices and contacts for SSR practitioners.

Law enforcement officials (including military) are often trained in 'how' to fire a weapon. These principles provide the basis for 'when' to use a weapon, and more importantly when not to use a weapon.

These rules apply to all law enforcement officials, including police and military personnel employed in a law enforcement capacity (eg crowd control). Article 3 includes restrictions on the use of firearms.

A training video on how to police during elections according to humanitarian and legal standards has been launched by UNREC, the UN regional centre for disarmament in Africa.

These extensive guidelines are intended for practitioners of security system reform (SSR), and include many case studies.

This resolution endorses 15 principles for preventing human rights abuses with guns, including abuses committed by state actors (eg law enforcement) and private citizens.

This paper examines policy options for security system reform (SSR).