Democratic Security Sector Governance

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A National Security Council brings together all the institutions involved in the political direction and implementation of security policy. In recent years National Security Policies have been developed on the basis of human security needs rather than purely defensive needs. National Security Councils have the duty to ensure the management of the security sector is in line with the agreed National Security Policy. In some instances, National Security Councils can act as a platform for implementing and sustaining security sector reform initiatives at policy and technical levels.

Strategic security policy should be established at the national level by those elected representatives constituting the national government. Usually, the essential document is the national security policy against which sectoral policies for law enforcement, the military and intelligence can be defined. The setting of strategic security policy will, ultimately, affect the attribution of finite human and financial resources in relation to other socio-economic, anti-poverty, and development initiatives. This strategic policy then enables relevant security institutions to develop their sectoral priorities, reform, engagement and implementation strategies.

National security policy is defined as a formal description of a country’s understanding of its national values, interests, goals, strategic environment and threats in view of protecting or promoting national security for the State and its people, which is anchored in a vision of security determined through a comprehensive process of dialogue with all national stakeholders (and regional and international ones if deemed appropriate by the State concerned). In this sense, it shall incorporate the views and perceptions of the Government and other institutions of State, as well as the needs and perceptions of the country’s people.

A National Security Strategy and a National Security Policy

A national security strategy is defined as a formal description of the methods to be used by the State and its people to realize the vision and goals outlined in a national security policy. This includes setting specific objectives, identifying priorities and considering activities and resource allocation. The document is based on the values, interests, threats to and needs of the country, as outlined in a national security policy.


UN Inter-Agency SSR Task Force, Security Sector Reform Integrated Technical Guidance Notes.

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