Post-conflict governments and donors prioritize rebuilding the justice sector through state delivered rule of law and access to justice programmes. Misunderstanding the nature of the post-colonial state, such programmes make questionable assumptions. First, that a lack of access to state justice is the same as an overall absence of justice. Second, that the state system that is being built is what people want. Third, that the state system of justice that is being built could provide a sustainable nationwide network in the foreseeable future. Based on interviews conducted with policy designers, practitioners, local people and chiefs at three sites in southern Sudan 2007, this article calls for a rethinking of donor-supported justice and police development and advocates an approach that recognizes the importance of local justice.
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.
This article examines policing in Sierra Leone four years after the civil war. It evaluates the achievements in the area of policing against the major policing challenges in African post-conflict societies. These are recruitment and (re)training of a civilian force; establishing an organizational culture that is accountable and responsive to citizen concerns; organizational rebuilding and re-equipment; utilizing the resources of commercial and community organized policing; and establishing a sustainable basis. The research finds that for all the positive achievements, the fact remains that the government of Sierra Leone still does not exert effective control over, nor is it able to deliver state policing services to, significant parts of its own territory. The 7,000 active police officers are too small in number and too limited in resources to provide all Sierra Leone’s citizens with a service that protects them from crime and investigates crime. Its fundamental weaknesses mean that post-conflict internal security programmes may have to look again at others who currently authorize and provide policing. It may be that some community led policing groups can be harnessed and if necessary reformed to assist the police in establishing the rule of law.