Skip to main content


Back to Resources

Intelligence Services: Roles and responsibilities in good security sector governance

1 September, 2017


This SSR Backgrounder explains the roles and responsibilities of intelligence services in good security sector governance (SSG). Intelligence services perform an essential security function by providing governments with timely and relevant information necessary to protect the security of states and their societies. Applying the principles of good SSG to intelligence services makes them both effective and accountable within a framework of democratic governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights.

This SSR Backgrounder answers the following questions:

  • What are intelligence services?
  • What do intelligence services do?
  • How is intelligence produced?
  • What intrusive legal powers do intelligence services hold?
  • How can intelligence services comply with good security sector governance?
  • How does security sector reform benefit intelligence services?
  • How can secrecy be made compatible with good governance?
  • What is international intelligence cooperation?