IDD Policy Brief: The Risks of Security-led Statebuilding

Are there trade-offs between short-term security objectives and longer-term development and statebuilding objectives in conflict-affected states? How can Security Sector Reform interventions contribute to statebuilding more effectively? This IDD Policy Brief by Professor Paul Jackson draws on research that examined UK government experience, particularly in Sierra Leone and Afghanistan.

Key messages

  • External interventions in conflict-affected states have increasingly merged security and development objectives. However, short-term security has been prioritised, with implications for longer-term statebuilding and development processes.
  • Security Sector Reform has tended to focus on ‘hard’ security at the expense of developing a framework of governance and local ownership as a basis for statebuilding.
  • Security-led statebuilding risks fostering state institutions that are not locally grounded or legitimate, and that are more effective at protecting a regime than protecting citizens.
  • Politics, context, governance and ownership are often neglected in pursuit of technical-administrative solutions. Policymakers need to examine their underlying assumptions about the kind of state that is being constructed, and by whom.

IDD Policy Briefs support evidence-based decision-making in international development, presenting the policy implications of research in a concise and accessible format.

Read the IDD Policy Brief: The Risks of Security-led Statebuilding