Handbook of International Security and Development
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Handbook of International Security and Development

Edited by Paul Jackson

The Handbook of International Security and Development provides a survey of current thinking within the field of security and development. With a wide range of chapters that offer a guide to the core approaches, methods and issues, this book explores the links between the two and includes contributions from both practitioners and academics. With topics ranging from the politics of aid by remote control through to intervention and the re-establishment of security and demobilisation of combatants, this Handbook provides a comprehensive introduction to the literature and approaches used in the field of security and development.
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Chapter 12: Security sector reform and liberal state building

Nina Wilén


Security sector reform (SSR) has sailed into the peace-building literature during the last two decades quite quickly acquiring one of the top positions on agendas over what to do in post-conflict states. Yet, its concern with a reform of the most sensitive sector of states has been relatively free from harsher criticism and its importance has rarely been questioned in policy circles (Sedra 2010: 17). Perhaps the reason for this is that SSR is really crucial for peace-building, or perhaps it is because the notion of SSR has been the victim of ‘benign analytical neglect’ (Peake et al. 2008, cited in Jackson 2010), reducing discussions about SSR to policy papers, practical debates about how to go about it and in-depth analysis of empirical case-studies (Egnell and Haldén 2009: 29). As one of very few concepts in the academic literature, SSR has been the casualty of under-theorizing analyses, which often have failed to situate the notion in a broader theoretical framework that traces its origins, its normative underpinnings and the values that its implementation disseminates, thereby linking it to the broader debates about the nature of state building. This might at first glance seem to be an advantage for the implementation: finally, a concept that is operational. Yet, the absence of a theoretical dissection which can situate and trace the values behind the birth of such an influential concept, risks perceptions of SSR as something purely technical and neutral which is far from the political implications it entails (Jackson 2010: 131).

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