Context matters: interim stabilisation and second generation approaches to security promotion

The scale and ferocity of post-war violence regularly confounds the expectations of security and development specialists. When left unchecked, mutating violence can tip ‘fragile’ societies back into all out warfare. In the context of formal peace support operations, conventional security promotion efforts are routinely advanced to prevent this from happening. These include disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) and wider security system/sector reform (SSR). There are also lesser known but no less important interventions to promote security that deviate from-but also potentially reinforce and enhance-DDR and SSR. Faced with dynamic post-war contexts, erstwhile warring parties, peace mediators and practitioners have crafted a host of innovative and experimental security promotion initiatives designed to mitigate risks and symptoms of post-war violence including interim stabilisation measures and second generation DDR. Drawing on a growing evidence base, the article sets out a host of contextual determinants that shape the character and effectiveness of security promotion on the ground. It then issues a typology of emergent practices-some that occur before, during and after DDR and SSR interventions. Taken together, they offer a fascinating new research agenda for those preoccupied with post-war security promotion.

Rethinking Post-war Security Promotion

The intensity and complexity of post-war violence routinely exceeds expectations. Many development and security specialists fear that, if left unchecked, mutating violence can potentially tip ‘fragile’ societies back into war. An array of ‘conventional’ security promotion activities are regularly advanced to prevent this from happening, including disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) and other forms of security sector reform (SSR). Meanwhile, a host of less widely recognised examples of security promotion activities are emerging that deviate from – and also potentially reinforce – DDR and SSR. Innovation and experimentation by mediators and practitioners has yielded a range of promising activities designed to mitigate the risks and symptoms of post-war violence including interim stabilisation measures and second generation security promotion interventions. Drawing on original evidence, this article considers a number of critical determinants of post-war violence that potentially shape the character and effectiveness of security promotion on the ground. It then issues a typology of security promotion practices occurring before, during and after more conventional interventions such as DDR and SSR. Taken together, the identification of alternative approaches to security promotion implies a challenging new research agenda for the growing field of security and development.