Dr. Albrecht Schnabel, Head of Asia-Pacific Unit
Supported by DCAF and FES (Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung), the Inter-Parliamentary Forum on Security Sector Governance in Southeast Asia (IPF-SSG) was an initiative running from 2006 to 2017 with the goal of supporting the role of parliaments in security sector governance by promoting peer-review and dialogue among parliamentarians and interested stakeholders of the region. IPF-SSG has counted 300 participants, including members of parliament, parliamentary staffers, government and security officials, academic experts and civil society representatives from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. The Forum focused primarily on regional workshops which address specific issues of parliamentary oversight of the security sector, such as national security policy development, defence budgeting and procurement, police governance and police reform, and judicial reform.
DCAF contributes to conflict prevention and peacebuilding of Myanmar by partnering with its sister centre, the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), to offer a pragmatic and policy-focused training course for Myanmar government officials, parliamentarians, members of former ethnic armed organisations and CSO members. Already in its fifth annual iteration, this course performs an essential function in bringing together a broad and mixed constituency around a common table to discuss shared stakes in the country’s transition towards democracy, rule of law and the provision of human security.
It offers participants not only the chance to learn, but also the chance to network in Geneva and in Myanmar with an alumni network of like-minded national stakeholders on key reform topics, such as the functioning of political systems, political decentralisation, good governance, security sector governance and reform, human rights, transitional justice and intercultural awareness.
Tracking the development dividend of SSR
Security sector reform (SSR) is expected to improve both security and development in societies that experience various forms of economic, political and security transitions.Despite the lack of a strong empirical basis, the supposed “security-development nexus” is often seen as a dynamic that produces security and stability as favourable conditions for sustainable development, and vice versa. The presumed SSR-security-development dynamic thus constitutes a weak basis from which to establish convincing, empirically-based conclusions about the symbiotic relationship between security provision and sustainable development.
This project aimed at investigating and substantiating the assumed relationship between SSR activities and their impact on development prospects in order to reconcile the apparent impasse between development and SSR practitioners. Understanding the linkages between SSR and development would allow the researchers to generalise and produce comparable data necessary to assess and improve the suitability of SSR in helping societies achieve their development and peacebuilding objectives. This project also aimed to develop a shared database that would allow users to save information for their own research needs and facilitate the design and implementation of development-sensitive SSR initiatives.
The project started under the assumption that the urban environment poses a complex set of conceptual and empirical issues for research on SSG and SSR, possibly pointing to a unique “urban security sector”. If there is such a thing as an urban security sector, distinct from a national security sector, issues such as urban planning, urban-focused human security and human development in cities become relevant to security sector reform efforts. Important differences also arise between and among urban environments, requiring one to distinguish “megacities” from other cities, capital cities from non-capital cities, and various forms of urban systems. In addition, the urban security sector dynamics differ depending on whether the city is situated in a developed, developing, fragile and conflict-affected, or post-conflict context. Furthermore, local forms of empowerment must be discerned, specifically in cities plagued by gang violence or corrupt police where the lines between formal and informal security sectors may be blurred.
In light of growing interest and investment in urban safety and security, exemplified by the provisions of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 -Sustainable Cities and Communities, increasing our understanding of the urban security sector has never been more timely.