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Security sector reform - a global challenge

Behind this contemporary motto of international organizations lie two different and arguably contradictory issues: how can the security sector been made more democratically accountable to people whose security is at stake? How can it be streamlined so as to cost less? Hanne Røislien, in her seminal study of the place of Judaism in the IDF, meanwhile reminds us that behind any discussion of a “security sector”, we find people, whose attitudes and approaches to security are essential to consider.

Nowhere are issues related to Security Sector Reform more apparent than in the post-Spring Arab world. New security forces are rebuilt while previous ones ought to be made accountable for past abuse. Who are the main forces driving such reforms? How are they publicly debated in contexts of unruly democratic transitions? Such question also brings to light the complex role played by international organisations, such as NATO or the EU, in promoting their vision of Security Sector Reform. Read more.

Tunisia: security sector reform

Robert Joyce

Three years since the slogan “no fear after today” spread through Tunisia, police and security forces still operate without any meaningful accountability.

On the trail of Britain's undercover police

Recent revelations have exposed the routine embedding of undercover police officers within environmental and social justice campaigns. But piecing together the public evidence on undercover police tactics brings as many questions as answers.

Deaths in British police custody: no convicted officers since 1969

827 people have died during or following police contact since 2004. Families have struggled hard for justice, encountering multiple failures and police collusion from the IPCC. Why is police accountability failing in this most serious of issues?

Disruption policing: surveillance and the right to protest

From overt, intrusive surveillance to 'network demolition': disruption is central to the strategies of intelligence-led policing. Deployed within the policing of protest, it poses a grave threat to the exercise of dissent.

Entrepreneurial policing? International policing challenges

The export of policing is a global growth industry in which the UK plays a major role. Recent years have seen the proliferation of private security company involvement in international policing, often staffed by former UK police officers.

The history of British involvement in Bahrain's internal security

John Yates is only the most recent Briton to be given a public role in Bahrain's internal security. Since founding the Bahraini police force, the British influence is as strong as ever.

The military grip on US policing

US domestic law enforcement finds one reason after another to adopt military tactics and tougher approaches to enforce civilian 'security'. What are they - and what's next?

When will there be policing for black people in Britain?

The Metropolitan Police spied on the family of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence. Violence against people from black and minority ethnic communities goes on and on. 

Israel's loopy logic of exoneration

Israel's recent 'update' on military investigations into civilian deaths in Gaza last November is an affirmation of its deficient institutional and legal practice, with the result of continued impunity for its military and political officials.

Conflict at the EU's southern borders: the Sahel crisis

Gradually, EU systems of governance have extended into the southern Mediterranean, linking dynamics in the Sahel with European interests through its borderlands. This could be a test of the EU's foreign policy ambitions. But is the Union ready and capable to act, and if so, what is at stake?

In militias we trust: Libya's conundrum

The rapid disintegration of Muammar al Gaddafi’s armed forces and police meant that the militias born out of the revolution were the only ones equipped to fill the security vacuum left behind. Libya functions, but can civilians wrest control?

When business and the state co-opt ‘independent’ civil society

How can charities and community organisations provide effective advocacy when they are agents of the state or partners in business?

The Cairo Gang, the Force Research Unit and ... Rupert Murdoch

The story of the FRU must be one of the most sordid in British Intelligence. It reveals a deep gulf in Northern Ireland's peace process: Britain's willingness to be held accountable.

When soldiering gets sexy: the militarization of gender equality and sexual difference

Up in Arms continues to track the figure of the soldier in contemporary culture as a consequence of NATO’s wars. How does militarism – the belief in the superiority of military values and methods – shape or perhaps even challenge gender stereotypes in countries that send troops off to war?

Infatuation and the US Army

To a large extent Petraeus, four star general and chief spy, was a political and media invention. Take a closer look at the Petraeus record and a spectre starts to appear: of just how blind love can be.

G4S equips the apartheid wall, Israel confirms

The company whose logo appears on police staff uniforms in the UK and dropped the Olympics contract has far reaching impact on multiple security settings.

Child soldiers, child wives: wounded for life

Working with ex-child soldiers of Charles Taylor's army, and the girls they have taken as wives, has convinced Nobel Peace laureate Leymah Gbowee that the abuse women suffer during conflict is a reflection of the interaction between men and women, boys and girls, during peace time.

A new dawn in Saudi?

Two men are now heading the virtual entirety of the Kingdom’s intelligence gathering apparatuses. MbN’s control over the Mabahith (secret police) and Bandar’s control over the Mukhabarat will link them closely into western counter terrorist efforts.

République Démocratique du Congo: dépasser le cycle de la crise

L'éruption de violence dans l'est de la République Démocratique du Congo reflète l'échec des organisations nationales et internationales sur le long terme, affectant les citoyens de la région ainsi que les communautés de la diaspora européenne. Pour sortir de ce cycle, il faudra s'en prendre aux racines de la violence. Read this in English.

On ne peut pas ignorer le lien entre le Rwanda et les rebelles du M23

Beaucoup des facteurs de conflit dans l'est de la République Démocratique du Congo se trouvent à l'intérieur de ses frontières mais une analyse qui ignorerait le rôle du Rwanda ces dernières années ne permettrait pas de démonter le mécanisme des cycles d'insurrection violente. Read this in English.

Rwanda's connection to the M23 rebels must not be ignored

Many of the drivers of conflict in eastern DR Congo lie within its borders, but an analysis that ignores the role of Rwanda in recent years is inadequate to the task of disassembling the cycles of violent insurrection. Français.

Yemen’s National Dialogue: will it succeed?

Eleven months after the signature of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s [GCC] initiative and the  formation of the new Government of National Unity and nine months after the election of the interim President, where are we with Yemen's National Dialogue? Things are different this time - but are they any more likely to last?

The ongoing attack on democracy in the Maldives

If western countries are unwilling to place any pressure against a regime of questionable legitimacy, allied with a former dictator and hard-line Islamists, while failing to provide any support for a popularly-elected leader committed to democracy and to nonviolence, what kind of message does that send?

CLEAN IT: the secret EU surveillance plan that wasn’t

There are elements in Europe who would dearly like to see the CLEAN IT wish list put into practice (including from the law enforcement community, the industries that serve it, and the European Commission), but we must distinguish between transnational talking shops, EU working groups and draft EU policy.

Chaos in the Sahel

The wider regional Islamist threat from the GSPC/AQIM appeared to be minimal in the past (except to Mali, Niger and Mauritania). This is no longer the case. Such movements are proliferating and reforming in ways that could seriously threaten security inside Algeria itself. 

Algerian state terrorism and atrocities in northern Mali

The Islamist ‘terrorist’ groups that have taken over control of northern Mali are not only the creations of Algeria’s secret police, the Département du Renseignement et de la Sécurité (DRS), but they are being supplied, supported and orchestrated by the DRS.

America's military: a far-right threat

A lax recruitment policy has allowed neo-Nazi and other extremists to enter the United States army. The violent consequences are increasingly being felt in the domestic arena, says Matt Kennard.

Libya: politics before security?

Last week's attack against the US ambassador is a warning sign that large security gaps are threatening Libya's stability. Democratically electing a new government is no guarantee of better times to come.

The future of Security Sector Reform in the MENA region

Post 'Spring' Arab countries are characterized by a blurring of responsibilities between military and civilian elites. Security Sector Reform is an urgent necessity, and the international community has a key role to play in facilitating it.

The United Arab Emirates: frontiers of the Arab Spring

The United Arab Emirates has yet to face Arab Spring street protests, as have Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and its other neighbours. Nonetheless its seven ruling families are now finally being challenged directly by a number of brave citizens, some of whom are publicly calling for regime change. 

Lackland Air Force sexual abuse: glimpse of the ‘real’ scandal of the US military

What can we learn about militarised ideas of gender from the Lackland Air Force scandal? Military inquiries focus on the individual perpetrators but fail to address deep-rooted gendered practices in military basic training.

Anti-corruption measures in Security Sector Reform: necessary and achievable

SSR cannot be effective unless efforts are made to tackle corruption, but often this issue is felt to be too politically sensitive to address. Approaching corruption as a systemic issue opens the space for defence officials to become engaged.

Security Sector Reform In Bahrain

While the Bahrain government has implemented many of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry security sector reform recommendations, abuses have continued throughout 2012, suggesting that attempts at reform have fundamentally failed to alter the government’s approach to dealing with its opposition.

Should one expect security sector reform in Egypt?

In the stand-off between the two main political actors, control over the security sector will be a major issue at stake. Both groups are convinced that they will only be able to maintain their domination over the political scene provided that they enjoy control over the security institutions.

The UAE: holding back the tide

As a deeply-tribal and largely homogeneous society that has also engaged heavily both in state-branding and institutional partnerships in recent years, the security crackdown in the UAE holds particular resonance, calling into question the judgement of international institutions that bought into the benevolent ‘images’ so carefully promoted by ruling elites.

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