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SP22 - Sustainable Security Sector Transformation in Insecure Times

Convened by Nadia Molenaers (Institute of Development Policy, University of Antwerp, Belgium) and Valentin Poponete (NATO and University of Antwerp)

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The transformation of the security sector in conflict-affected countries has been recognised as a critical factor for the consolidation of peace and stability that promotes good governance and poverty reduction and enables the delivery of basic services. Such interventions have become a common element of international state-building endeavours. Although a lot of attention has thus been devoted to defining the conceptual framework and normative approaches and to scrutinizing individual interventions, there is limited information about their effectiveness and an implementation gap between what is preached versus what is practised. 

The little progress made worldwide in building self-sustaining security institutions able to survive the withdrawal of external support seems to have been the consequence of the adoption of relatively narrow and technocratic approaches lacking a comprehensive understanding of the local context, especially its political dimensions. Moreover, the evaluation of such interventions appears to be their weakest link that could benefit from the development community experience.

The collapse of the Western-trained and equipped Afghan security forces when faced with the Taliban offensive in 2021 and that of the Iraqi forces, when faced with the ISIS fighters in 2014, as well as the resilience of the Ukrainian troops in the face of the Russian military in 2022, are examples of our limited understanding about how accountable and effective security institutions could be built in conflict-ridden contexts.

The aim of this seed panel is to share a set of presentations that explore different facets of the security sector transformation within the broader context of state-building in conflict-affected countries in order to identify critical challenges and potential novel concepts and tools to improve research and implementation of such endeavours.