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During my tenure at DCAF from 2003-2011, I designed and delivered several training programmes for practitioners working in the areas of security, governance, development and justice, as well as modules designed to build practitioners’ basic drafting and presentation skills.  These are listed below with brief descriptions.

1. What are Security Sector Reform and Governance all about? 

This module engages participants in an interactive discussion about security and the security sector along with the key norms that should shape democratic security sector governance. The discussion can be followed by an exercise in which participants assess the strong and weak points of their national security sector. Where participants from more than one country are involved –ideally, at least three – the exercise can be used to compare national security sector performance, followed by a discussion of the reasons for the differences and the resulting implications.

2. Regional and Global Intergovernmental SSR Actors-who does what and why?

In this module, participants are introduced to the key intergovernmental actors that have a role in SSR/SSG, their capabilities for working in these areas  and the obstacles they typically face when implementing programmes.  This can be combined with an exercise in which the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (“SWOT”) they face in this regard are evaluated by participants.

3. How to map the actors in a security sector and their key interrelationships

The objective of this module is to help participants think comprehensively about the nature and functions of actors involved in a country’s security sector. The map produced by participants in this exercise can be used as a platform for discussing key relationships in the area of management, coordination and oversight, as well as SSR champions and spoilers.  The map is compiled in real time through interaction with participants.

4. Overseeing the Security Sector

In this module, participants learn that effective security sector oversight requires the independent yet parallel action of a network of adequately resourced actors working at arm’s length from their oversight subjects. The module is supported by an exercise in which participants analyse descriptions of oversight deficits described in the media from different environments around the globe and suggest remedial action.

5. The question of context, with a particular emphasis on post-conflict settings

This module begins with a review of the various contexts in which SSR is carried out and examines the differences between the security sector challenges in, say, mature democracies compared with fragile states. It then puts the conclusions arising out of this enquiry to test in a series of case-studies based on field operations. The onus here is on deciding in what manner, to what extent and at what level of granulation the concept of context can help inform policy.

6. How to prepare and conduct SSR Assessments

Carrying out a proper assessment of a situation that may become the subject of an SSR intervention is essential if that intervention is to have any prospect for success. This module looks at good practices for defining an assessment mandate, selecting its principals, conducting the assessment and reporting results. Participants analyse real-life assessment reports and field experiences with a view to sensitising themselves to the political constraints and ambiguities that are often associated with an assessment process.

7. How to design an Action Plan for SSR

In this module, participants analyse and report on action plans from the field, reviewing their strong and weak points and developing some general observations about action plan practice. This sets the stage for an exercise simulating a field situation in which participants identify key programme objectives, indicate sequencing priorities and recommend short-, medium and long-term steps in pursuing action plan goals within a fixed budgetary envelope.

8. How to communicate, coordinate and cooperate (C3) in whole of government (WGA), whole of region (WoR) and whole of system (WoS) environments

SSR actions typically involve a bewildering array of actors, state and non-state, internal and external, regional and international. Effective C3 under these circumstances is both critically important and seriously challenging. This module provides participants with an opportunity to reflect upon the different strategies that can be used to enhance C3 in light of various experiences from the field. These insights are then tested in an exercise in which participants develop a road map and code of conduct for a multi-actor SSR action in a complex peace-support operation.

9. How to foster regional security cooperation

If there is to be reconciliation, good governance and economic growth across a post-conflict  region, all of its members need to have efficient and accountable security sectors.This multi-module programme looks at ways regional governmental, legislative and civil society actors can promote regional confidence by mapping and comparing national security sectors, developing scenarios for the region’s future, drafting a regional security vision and drafting a regional action plan. the module can also be adapted for a fragile region such as the Middle East and North Africa or for a prosperous and pacific one such as NAFTA where there is a deficit in regional cooperation in key sectors.

10. Building the capacity of young security professionals

Young professionals working in the security sector often lack the basic skills they need to perform when working on the national, regional or international level. This can be a particularly challenging problem for new democracies and formative states.   This multi-module programme offers opportunities to learn a variety of essential skills: writing policy briefs, drafting talking points, preparing for meetings with the media and other actors, minuting such meetings, speaking effectively in public, using PowerPoint wisely and so on.

The following documents provide support for the above modules (under construction).


New modules

The following are under development.

11. The origins of SSR and its relationship with peace-building, justice reform, human rights and democratic control  of the security sector

12. Understanding the sociology of the security forces/providers and the implications for SSG

13. The economic dimension of SSG: investment, jobs, budgets and financial accountability

14. The issue of inclusiveness: working for ethnic, religious and gender balance in the security sector, and its importance for the legitimacy of security providers, and the effectiveness of their work

15. Monitoring, reviewing and evaluating SSR/ SSG programmes


The modules described above can also be packaged as a full-term university course.



All the modules described above can be delivered in a train-the- trainers (TtT) mode. For example, an introductory course on SSR and SSG might offer the following components:

  • (SSR/SSG 101)what are the key concepts, challenges and actors

  • what  are the specificities of SSR/SSG training

  • how to design a SSR/SSG training course

  • how to deliver a SSR/SSG training course

  • how to evaluate and follow up a SSR/SSG training course.


For a sample framework for mapping training activities, see the internal DCAF mapping exercise sponsored by the DCAF training task force
DCAF Capacity-building programmes for Parliaments, assemblies, political parties and staffers (PAPPS)

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