InCompass International 
Consultancy Services Ltd.
specialists in delivering justice & home affairs policy, 
strategy & technical assistance to governments, EU & UN agencies

Role of the Private Sector in Security Sector Reform

It has become widely accepted in theory if not yet in practice, that security sector reform (SSR) should be a locally owned, political process that cannot simply be reduced to a set of technical assistance measures (Nathan, 2007; Donais, 2008).  Increasingly, SSR is treated as a sub-set of a wider state-building process(Egnell and Haldén, 2009), which emphasizes the need to understand and build on existing political, state and social structures.

Such a widespread acceptance of the political nature of SSR is welcome. It should not be forgotten, however, that SSR must still contain a wide range of technical capacity-building elements if the democratic ambitions of reform are to mean anything in practice. For example, if democratic control over security agencies is to be effective, ministers must have competent, functioning ministries to oversee the agencies and translate ministerial policies into actions. This requires a host of technical capabilities within the ministry, including strategic planning, resource allocation, procurement, human resource management, accounting and all the other basic skills that any large institution requires to function properly.

Typically, governmental and multinational donors do not have a “standing army” of serving civil servants and military and security officers who are equipped with both technical and consulting skills and are willing to deploy (often at short notice) to support capacity building in host countries. It is precisely this gap that the private sector can fill, but this does not mean that donors can simply outsource all reform activity to the private sector. It is essential that they contribute political analysis and support to ensure that capacity-building activities are realistic, relevant to local context and designed to improve accountability as well as effectiveness; in addition, the political ramifications of capacity-building programs must be understood and incorporated into program risk management.

This chapter examines the division of labour between donors and the private sector in supporting a locally owned, political process of reform that builds both accountability and effectiveness.  It argues that SSR should still involve capacity building and technical assistance, even as political change is handled in a more sophisticated way, and that it is precisely the capacity-building element that creates a demand for the private sector to be involved in SSR.

This chapter defines the private sector to include specialist SSR consultancies development and management consultancies academia and singleton consultants, plus private security companies. Clearly, these all differ in important ways, and to discuss this would require a separate chapter.  The important commonality for the purposes of this chapter is that they all contribute additional skills and can draw on a wider range of expertise than the permanent staff of donor governments alone. (text by Alex Martin and Peter Wilson)

What is Security Sector Reform (SSR)?

Security sector reform (SSR) aims to enhance effective and accountable security for the State and its peoples. SSR transforms institutions to make them more professional and more accountable. It is a process led by national authorities and the reform should be undertaken without discrimination and with full respect for human rights and the rule of law (see OECD handbook).

Law-enforcement Co-operation

InCompass International has extensive experience in establishing formal mechanisms through technical assistance, at both national and regional levels, for establishing improved operational co-operation between law-enforcement Agencies and prosecution services.

InCompass maintains high-level contacts with the relevant Ministries, Law-enforcement Agencies, EU Member State Agencies, US Departments of State and Justice, Interpol, Europol, Eurojust, CEPOL, SECI Centre Bucharest and FRONTEX, among others.

InCompass works with law-enforcement co-operation and technical assistance programmes at the following levels:

Securtiy & Investigations

Parliamentary & civilian oversight mechanisms

‘Without the presence of effective civilian and democratic oversight of the political process, of politicians, of Cabinet ministers and of political/private-sector relations, a valid democracy does not exist. Where the political will to adopt these measures is not apparent, all sectors are affected and individual rights and livelihoods are damaged. The international donors therefore need to add this conditionality to their development assistance policy and eventually to their contracts, regardless of the sectors they choose to support.’ (InCompass International)

InCompass provides the folowing tailored technical assistance services and projects, led by our Senior Associates in UK, Canada and Greece:
  • Establishment of Parliamentary Oversight Committees ‘withteeth’
  • Judicial system oversight
  • Full security sector oversight
  • Intelligence sector oversight
  • Election system oversight
  • Financial services/banking oversight
  • Media oversight
  • Energy sector oversight
What are security sectors?

No single model of a security sector exists. However, the UN considers that security sectors usually include structures, institutions and personnel responsible for the management, provision and oversight of security.

These could include defen
ce, law enforcement, corrections, intelligence services and institutions responsible for border management, customs and civil emergencies. In some cases, elements of the judicial sector responsible
for cases of alleged criminal conduct and misuse of force are included. The security sector should also include management and oversight bodies and, in some instances, may involve informal or traditional security providers.
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