Democratic Security Sector Governance


International Organisations play a major role in the Security Sector Governance (SSG) and Reform (SSR). They provide expertise and advice; raise awareness on security topics; finance capacity development trainings, programmes and projects on a multitude of vital issues such as technical skills, security sector governance, oversight, building integrity. IOs also play a central role in the process of norm and standard–setting, as well as for ensuring accountability and promoting the rule of law. Moreover, they establish a communication channel between governments and societies, as well as between different nations, and other international entities and actors involved in the field of SSG and SSR.

There is no unique definition of an international organisation. A broader meaning usually includes international governmental organisations (IGOs) and international nongovernmental organisations (NGOs). The OECD Glossary of Statistical Terms defines International Organisations as “entities established by formal political agreements between their members that have the status of international treaties; their existence is recognised by law in their member countries; they are not treated as resident institutional units of the countries in which they are located”.

International organisations’ involvement in the security sector reform field started to grow in the 1990s when they realised that development efforts, especially in conflict and post-conflict scenarios, could not be successful in insecure environments. Security governance came to be seen as a vital component of institution building, governance development and reconstruction projects. Additionally, democratic oversight of the security sector assumed a central role in the conditionality for partnership and membership for institutions, such as EU, NATO, and the Council of Europe.

Since then, the involvement of international organisations in the SSR processes has grown into a flurry of overlapping activities and projects. This is especially true in conflict and post-conflict counties where different organisations compete for donors and space. A recent mapping study conducted by Folke Bernadotte Academy illustrates this dilemma in Ukraine. Ukraine’s example leads us to an important conclusion that cooperation and coordination between international organisations and other actors working in the field of the security sector reform is absolutely vital for the success of democratic governance programming and, ultimately, establishing effective democratic governance of the security sector.

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