Insightful Quotes
"There is a focus (of European/Western countries) on tactical readiness and not enough on governance, accountability and long term peace. Sustainable security can only be achieved by supporting institutions that have to be inclusive and accountable to the communities that they are meant to protect."
Insightful Quotes
"If you give state actors a lot of money they will start talking to state actors (on the recipient side). Will this dynamic rather support state stability or positive peace?"
Virtual Session 11

Securing Development, Developing Security? Security Assistance, Arms Exports and Do No Harm Reconsidered

Decisions about supporting capacities and capabilities of external security forces often rest on the assumption that there is a mutually reinforcing connection between security assistance and political and social progress. A number of European and bilateral security assistance programs refer to that nexus to justify the very existence of these initiatives (e.g. the recently established European Peace Facility, the German Enable and Enhance Initiative or US security assistance programs).

Main Questions
  • Given the poor track record of bi- and multilateral security assistance initiatives what is needed to transform these programs into vehicles for sustainable peace and democratic change?

  • How can local ownership as the core principle of meaningful SSR programs be respected despite the norm of state sovereignty in international diplomacy and a focus on government to government relations?

  • How can parliamentarians from “donor countries” and especially the German Bundestag be “used” to make German security assistance and SSR programs more political and oriented towards social change and political transformation?

Key Theses, Thoughts and Ideas

Practical experience (and research) shows that security assistance and train and equip programs do little to deal with the real problems affecting stability in conflict-torn countries. Especially in environments where donors plan and implement their programs based on pre-defined political agendas such as in the Sahel region, it is almost impossible to align the security interests of the men and women and communities in conflict with those of the host governments and “donor” countries.

State sovereignty as a fundamental principle of international law and authoritarian governance in politically contested spaces often impact negatively on “local ownership” – a key requirement for sustainable and holistic security sector reform (SSR) programs.

There is a shared consensus that the relevant policy documents (e.g. the German government-wide SSR strategy) and the latest UN Security Council resolution 2553 (2020) are providing the necessary guidelines for sustainable SSR but that the translation of the norms and principles into programming still lack behind.


Dr Hans Born
Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance (DCAF)
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Lucia Montanaro
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Philipp Goldberg
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
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Simone Wisotzki
Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF)/ Joint Conference Church and Development (GKKE)
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Konstantin Bärwaldt
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Germany
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Current Topics

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The FriEnt Peacebuilding Forum is a series of events on current and overarching challenges and trends in peacebuilding. With the Peacebuilding Forum, we want to provide future-oriented impulses for the development of peacebuilding and strengthen the visibility and importance of the policy field in its entirety.


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