Security Sector Reform - Limitations and Prospects of the Scholarly Debate


  • Michael Wingens University of Warwick
  • Michael Wingens University of Warwick



security sector reform, post-conflict statebuilding, local ownership, conceptual-contextual divide, evaluation, literature review


This article seeks to critically assess the current scholarly debate on security sector reform (SSR) by examining conceptual gaps and limitations of the research on SSR. It is argued that the academic debate on SSR is stuck within the existing policy approach and limited due to its focus on domestic state actors and institutions. The vast majority of studies do not go beyond questions of programme effectiveness and policy success. Current research on the topic struggles with various conceptual challenges that hinder the translation of the SSR agenda into actual operational realities. Nevertheless, recent contributions to this field of research turn away from limited perspectives on external interests towards a greater emphasis on local perspectives and dynamics.


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