This edited volume accumulates more than a decade’s worth of lessons learned and best practices on SSR. The book is divided into three parts: The first part on the ‘origins and evolution of the SSR concept’ charts the development of SSR over the past decade and details the variety of approaches to it that have emerged in that period. The second part, “from concept to context: the implementation of SSR’ shifts from analyzing wider trends in the concept’s development to the practical challenges surrounding its application in the field. The third part of the book identifies and breaks down the myriad challenges that confront SSR program, with the issues of local ownership and civil society engagement chief among them. Chapters on gender, human rights, financing, the private sector, coordination and sequencing are also included.
Security sector reform has come to be viewed as the foundation for the state-building project in Afghanistan. Although the process has made important strides since its launch in the spring of 2002, the prevailing conditions in the country, notably high levels of insecurity and limited institutional and human capacity, have not been conducive to reform. Attempts to adjust the SSR agenda to reflect these conditions and meet immediate security challenges have deprived the process of its holistic vision. Its onus has shifted from ensuring democratic governance and accountability of the sector to maximizing security force effectiveness, a slide towards expediency that has threatened the underlying goals of the process.
This article focuses on the role of international aid donors in Afghanistan since the signing of the Bonn Agreement in 2001. Specifically, it explores the scope and utility of peace conditionalities as an instrument for peace consolidation in the context of a fragile war-to-peace transition. Geo-strategic and institutional concerns have generally led to an unconditional approach to assistance by international actors. It is argued that large inflows of unconditional aid risk re-creating the structural conditions that led to the outbreak of conflict. Aid conditionalities need to be re-conceptualized as aid-for-peace bargains rather than as bribes for security. Some forms of conditionality are necessary in order to rebuild the social contract in Afghanistan. This finding has wider relevance for aid donors and they should reconsider orthodox development models in â€˜fragile stateâ€™ settings. Rather than seeing conditionalities and ownership as two ends of a policy spectrum, the former may be a necessary instrument for achieving the latter.