Conflict and Fragility

Int. security sector support: navigating political obstacles
21 Sep 2022 16:00 - 17:30
Source: ©Flickr / Norwegian Mission to the UN

Clingendael had the pleasure of hosting an online discussion that was streamed via Zoom.

International security support sector

Navigating political obstacles and opportunities in conflict-affected states

The UN has repeatedly called attention to the crucial role of security sector reform in underpinning peace and stability in countries affected by violent conflict, including a 2022 report of the Secretary General. But we still know little about when and how international efforts can help bring about professional, effective and accountable security forces as part of broader peace- and statebuilding efforts, and in the face of domestic and international obstacles.

Drawing on new research, the event will examine how the political interests and role of security actors in conflict-affected countries interact with the diversity of donor views and preferences in the context of peace- and statebuilding efforts. It will then turn to the question of how international actors should shape their security sector reform interventions to be able to navigate this interplay and contribute to better security organization and provision.

Questions for discussion

  • What opportunities and problems do the global peacebuilding and statebuilding agenda’s face regarding international engagement on security sector reform? 
  • What have we learned about how competing domestic political interests in conflict-affected countries affect opportunities for strengthening security institutions?
  • What does effective UN engagement on security sector reform look like?


  • Christine Cheng (King’s College London) sheds light on the role of security sector reform in the evolution of the global peacebuilding and statebuilding agenda’s
  • Louis-Alexandre Berg (Georgia State University) speaks to how domestic power configurations influence possibilities for SSR
  • Waldemar Vrey (Independent, former UN DSRSG) reflects on strengths and shortcomings of SSR practices of UN missions in the execution of their mandates

The event was moderated by Erwin van Veen, Senior Research Fellow at Clingendael.