Origins of Strategy for Justice and Security Sector Reform in Afghanistan and Pakistan

December 2010 – February 2012

Project context

Over the past two decades, building effective and legitimate justice and security institutions has become a central tenet of peace operations by every major actor, from the United States to the United Nations. Justice and security sector reform (JSSR), which includes components such as judicial reform to police and army development, now appears prominently at the center of international stabilization and peacebuilding strategies in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Further, national and international peacebuilders expect to rely even more on JSSR in the future, both when they engage in state-building interventions or assist strong yet fragile states.

However, supporting or driving JSSR in a war-torn country from the outside is a deeply invasive experiment. Such operations tamper with that country’s political institutions when they are fragile, and when the public views their legitimacy with skepticism. Mixed or even disappointing results are widely expected and plausible for many reasons. While we have learned a lot in recent years about the difficult conditions of post-conflict peacebuilding, we have little systematic knowledge about the origins policy makers’ own strategic choices in designing, funding and implementing JSSR programs.

Project objectives

This pilot project sought to lay the foundation to fill this gap, focusing on the justice and security sector reform strategies of Germany, the United States, NATO and the EU with regard to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the period 2002-2010. For this time period and these cases, the study asked: What are the factors that account for the key strategic choices made and adapted over time by states and international organizations on justice and security sector reform in war-torn countries?

The study sought to make a dual contribution: First, it provided an empirical analysis of the development of JSSR strategy in the interlinked policy arenas between these specific countries and international organizations. Second, informed by theoretical approaches from the fields of public administration, bureaucratic politics, organization theory and international relations, it identified plausible hypotheses about the factors that drove fundamental strategic choices in these processes.

Project outputs

The project team delivered a journal article on the empirical origins of JSSR strategy as well as a research paper on the theoretical conclusions from the pilot phase. True to its nature as a pilot effort, the project was intended to prepare the ground for a larger follow-on study. The project team therefore delivered a research framework and initial hypotheses on the key factors accounting for strategic choices in the JSSR arena.

For more information on this project, please contact Philipp Rotmann.