This paper examines the value of an alternative approach to SSR policy, namely a multi-layered one in post-conflict and fragile state environments. It begins by arguing that there is a state-centric bias in current SSR policy and practice. This contradicts development principles of a ‘people-centred, locally owned’ approach in post-conflict and fragile state contexts. The SSR’s state-centric approach rests upon two fallacies: that the post-conflict and fragile state is capable of delivering justice and security; and that it is the main actor in security and justice. The paper goes on to present the outline of a multi-layered strategy. This addresses the issue of who is actually providing justice and security in post-conflict and fragile states. The paper continues by describing the accountability mechanisms that could be pursued by SSR programmes in support of this approach. The conclusion is that the advantage of the multi-layered approach is that it is based not on the state’s capacity, but on the quality and efficacy of the services received by the end user, regardless of who delivers that service.