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.

 © Icon Credit: Designed by Freepik from

Understanding Policing: A Resource for Human Rights Activists

This Resource Book builds on the assumption that an approach by human rights organizations that acknowledges the concerns and realities of the police and understands police language, will be more effective than an approach that sets itself apart and cr … read more

Compendium of International Legal Instruments on Corruption

The Compendium of International Legal Instruments on Corruption compiles for reference all the major relevant global and regional international treaties, agreements, resolutions and other instruments. These include legally binding obligations, as well … read more

The United Nations Anti-Corruption Toolkit

The United Nations Anti-Corruption Toolkit contains a detailed set of specific Tools intended for use by officials called upon to elaborate elements of a national anti-corruption strategy and to assemble these into an overall strategic framework, as we … read more

United Nations Guide on Anti-Corruption Policies

The United Nations Guide on Anti-Corruption Policies, which contains a general outline of the nature and scope of the problem of corruption and a description of the major elements of anti-corruption policies, is suitable for use by political officials … read more

International Human Rights Standards for Law Enforcement: A Pocket Book on Human Rights for the Police

This “pocket book” is designed to provide a readily accessible and portable reference for police committed to the lawful and humane performance of their vital functions in a democratic society. The pocket book contains hundreds of relevant standards, r … read more

Human Rights and Law Enforcement: A Manual on Human Rights Training for the Police

This Trainer’s Guide is one component of a three-part package of materials for human rights training for police. The police-training package also includes a training manual and a pocketbook of human rights standards for police personnel. The three comp … read more

Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security

The ‘OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security’ was adopted in 1994. It is a politically binding instrument. It calls for the democratic control not only of the military but also other security forces including paramilitary, police … read more

Photo credit: Ivan Bandura (Flickr)

© Copyright 2022, All Rights Reserved

Web Development by Activate Media