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Overview & Blog Archive – Academic Spotlight series By: Antoine Vandemoortele | Academic Spotlight | Nov 22, 2016

The new Academic Spotlight blog series features recent research findings on security sector reform and security governance published in international relations academic journals. It provides a venue to promote discussion within the academic-policy nexus and develop opportunities to share and exchange on key SSR issues and themes. The blog posts published in this series summarize new research findings and build on recent developments on 2nd generation SSR and doing security & justice differently. They help shape the debates on security sector reform in fragile and conflict-affected countries and are a great way to maximize the impact of academic research and reach a wider policy community.

The Centre for Security Governance has developed partnerships with prominent academic journals, including Conflict, Security & Development, International Peacekeeping, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding and Stability: International Journal of Security & Development. As part of these partnerships, some of these articles are available for six months free and open access exclusively through links provided directly in the blog posts. This is an innovative way to promote and disseminate research findings!

Academic Spotlight – List of contributions

#18 | Police reform in Kosovo and Bosnia: The power of local legitimacy unpacked | By Birte Julia Gippert | November 23, 2016

The power of legitimacy is increasingly invoked by scholars, practitioners, and donors as a crucial prerequisite for any international peacebuilding project. This short article disenchants the almost magical powers accorded to legitimacy via three research findings: First, it shows the causal mechanism behind legitimacy’s impact; second, legitimacy works only in certain contexts and situations; third, it is the only direct power international peacebuilding operations wield.

#17 | Poverty, Crime and Conflict: Socio-Economic Inequalities and the Prospects for Peace in Colombia | By Eleanor Gordon | October 21, 2016

Poverty and socio-economic inequalities are inextricably linked with crime and conflict in Colombia. Unless they are addressed the current peace process will be unsuccessful and crime and insecurity will continue to afflict Colombia and its people, particularly the more vulnerable and marginalized. 

#16 | Security Sector Reform and Hybrid Security Governance in Africa | By Niagalé Bagayoko, Eboe Hutchful, Robin Luckham  | June 30, 2016

Prevailing approaches to security sector reform (SSR) have tended to stress Westphalian notions of the state characterized by legal-rational norms and institutions. Thus, SSR processes have more often than not concentrated on the formal arrangements of the state and its security and justice institutions. Yet, such approaches are fundamentally at variance with the underlying realities of the African context, where many political and social transactions (not least in the security sector) take place in the context of informal norms and systems.

#15 | Local and External Perceptions of Security Sector Reform in Guinea-Bissau | By Christopher Kohl | February 5, 2016

The overall focus of this article is on the everyday, and in particular the fact that international experts and the local population live and work side by side, rather than together. The way that international practitioners live, and how interactions are transacted, are similar in various peacebuilding sites. In these everyday settings, ‘Global North’-borne norms and ideas have been discursively reproduced in Guinea-Bissau’s ‘peacebuilding economy’, encompassing spaces such as specific restaurants, hotels, bars, night-clubs, recreation sites etc. Such ‘neutral’ venues or ‘uncommitted spaces’ have facilitated informal exchanges between discordant international organizations and actors, but contributed to the exclusion of local actors and voices.

#14 | Theorizing corruption in the Afghan judicial sector | By Danny Singh | January 13, 2016

The purpose of this blog is to identify and analyze the dynamics of corruption at its systemic roots that has led to forms of state capture, low pay resulting in petty forms of corruption and issues with training within the Afghan judicial sector. The main empirical contribution of this paper is based on a total of 70 semi-structured interviews in 2010 and 2012 – predominantly in Kabul – with judicial reform and human rights organizations, rights-based and gender empowerment non-governmental organizations and civil society watchdogs. The second part of this blog post provides a theory-driven analysis of corruption in Afghanistan more broadly, using theories of functionalism, a political economy approach and legal pluralism to explain the varieties of corruption practices in the country.

#13 | Security Sector Reform and the Paradoxical Tension between Local Ownership and Gender Equality | By Eleanor Gordon, Emmicki Roos & Anthony Welch | December 10, 2015

Based on research published in Stability: International Journal of Security & Development, this blog contribution analyzes the tension that can exist between the principles of local ownership and gender equality that guide Security Sector Reform (SSR) programmes when gender discrimination and patriarchal values characterize the local environment.

#12 | Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration: Does ownership actually matter? | By Walt Kilroy | December 4, 2015

The outcomes of programs for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) are affected by the way in which they are implemented. More participatory approaches, where ex-combatants feel they have had more say and greater ownership, lead to better results. This is important for how DDR can contribute to the wider peace process and to peacebuilding itself.

#11 | The Afghan National Police: A study on corruption and clientelism | By Danny Singh | November 3, 2015

This blog identifies the underlying conditions of the Afghan state from the outset of the late 2001 Bonn political arrangement that has resulted in deep-rooted corrupt clientelistic networks within the Afghan government. This has trickled to the majority of the ministries including the Interior Ministry. Corruption is systemic and hard to combat despite police reform

#10 | The domestic consequences of SSR: Real-world effects beyond external perspectives | By Ursula C. Schroeder & Fairlie Chappuis | September 15th, 2015

Local ownership has always been central to the theory of security sector reform (SSR) in post-conflict contexts – practically every policy concept in circulation among bilateral donors or multilateral institutions makes local ownership of the reform agenda a sine qua non for external support to SSR. But these calls for local ownership echo hollow against the underwhelming results and unintended consequences of external support to SSR across a growing universe of cases.

#9 | A sub-national approach to statebuilding and security: the role of municipal institutions in Colombia’s DDR process | By  Francy Carranca Franco | September 7th, 2015

The Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration (DDR) process in Colombia was built nationally, but it was consolidated at the sub-national level: the Mayoral Offices of Bogota and Medellin developed programmes for the reintegration of ex-combatants that played a crucial role in both sustaining and contesting the national policy of reintegration  The analysis of these policies contributes to the understanding of the role that municipal authorities play in underpinning and redefining the DDR national policies.

#8 | Does research influence security sector reform policy? Evidence from a Sierra Leone case study | By Andrea Edoardo Varisco | August 21st, 2015

A recent article from Conflict, Security & Development focuses on the influence of research on British-led security sector reform (SSR) in Sierra Leone, examining some general issues and themes that characterize the use of research in SSR policy in fragile, conflict-affected environments.

#7 | Urban Gangs Make Comeback as Political Goons in Haiti | By Moritz Schuberth | August 3rd, 2015

It is commonly perceived that the motivation of Haiti’s urban gangs has changed from political to criminal – falsely so as my research has found. Rather, the function gangs fulfill for their sponsors is constantly shifting between political and criminal, as evidenced by the current re-emergence of political violence ahead of elections later this year.

#6 | Wartime experiences making gender security policy: A feminist perspective on hybridity | By Laura McLeod | July 21st, 2015

Power relations between the local and the international lie at the very core of gendered analyses about hybrid peace processes. We need to recognize the power of both the local and international, and to reflect upon the complexity of experience. Who experiences war? And what are the effects of these experiences?

#5 | With Elections Looming, will Haiti’s Urban Gangs Re-emerge as Political Actors? | By Geoff Burt | June 26th, 2015

As Haiti enters a lengthy and no doubt turbulent period of electoral politics, the country’s long-standing drivers of conflict take on a particular significance. It has been over three years since Haiti last held elections, but by the end of this year more than 6,000 posts will have been contested in presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections. Gangs have figured prominently in Haiti’s recent political transitions, as national-level political actors have deployed urban gangs to generate violence and unrest as a strategic instrument of political influence. In return for their allegiance, politicians have offered gangs funding and impunity from arrest. The nexus of politics and organized crime made waves in Haitian news after a controversial court ruling led to the release of a high profile criminal with close ties to the Presidential family.

#4 | Violent Non-State Actors and Complementary Governance: What ISIS, Hizballah, FARC Have in Common | By Annette Idler & James Forest | June 24th, 2015

In the absence of a strong state, insurgents, traffickers or tribal warlords may provide political and socioeconomic goods through arrangements we characterize as ‘complementary governance.’ When formulating an effective response to this security challenge, policymakers and researchers must account for the complex connections and interactions between multiple non-state governing entities.

#3 | Did PRTs in Afghanistan Decrease Security for Aid Workers? | By David Mitchell | June 18th, 2015

In an effort to curtail the insurgency in Afghanistan, the US military and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) blended military and humanitarian operations, much to the dismay of many within the nongovernmental organization (NGO) community. One of the major debates surrounding this effort concerns the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) initiative, which several NGOs have faulted for causing “blurred lines” between military and aid activity. PRTs were small units that combined diplomatic, military, and development components in an effort to improve stability in Afghanistan through the enhancement of economic viability, rule of law, and public services. Because of this mixed approach, NGOs such as CARE International, MSF, Save the Children, Oxfam, and others accused the US military and ISAF of increasing risks to aid workers in the field.

#2 | Security and insecurity in a police state: SSR in the occupied Palestinian territories  | By Tahani Mustafa | June 17th, 2015

As a wave of protests swept through the Arab world in 2010–11, toppling regimes that had long seemed invulnerable to such popular mobilization, the relative stability of the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) largely escaped international attention. In a marked break with the unrest and massive sustained popular mobilizations of the past, no significant opposition emerged to challenge the status quo in the oPt, even though dissatisfaction with the status quo runs high in the territories.

#1 | DDR in Darfur: Progress, Challenges and Outlook | By Zurab Elzarov | May 7th, 2015

After a long delay, the DDR process in Darfur has seen some progress over the past several months with disarmament and demobilization of ex-combatants from former rebel movements who decided to join the peace process, surrender their weapons and return to civilian life.

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