Policy dialogue: European Union Security Sector Reform missions in Mali and Afghanistan

 17 May 2017, 12:30 – 15:30

Venue: The Hague Institute for Global Justice, Sophialaan 10, 2514 JR The Hague, The Netherlands

The European Union and Security Sector Reform efforts

In recent years Security Sector Reform (SSR) missions have become more prominent in the European Union's foreign policy. The HR/VP for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, asserts SSR to be a key component in achieving the functional and normative imperative of the Union abroad. The EU defines SSR as ‘the process of transforming a country's security system so that it gradually provides individuals and the state with more effective and accountable security in a manner consistent with respect for human rights, democracy, the rule of law and the principles of good governance. Up until now, the EU has launched 27 SSR related missions, and among the ongoing 17 CSDP missions, 14 have elements of SSR. In practice, the EU's SSR missions show a mixed picture of results, facing multiple technical and political challenges, but also many opportunities for improvement that the EU and Member States can build on. Considering the current policy developments at EU level in the areas of security and defence, it is an important moment to discuss key questions at Member State level, with The Netherlands as a key actor committed to enhance its security sector reform programs.

This meeting takes place in the framework of the Whole of Society Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding (WOSCAP) project, which Utrecht University and GPPAC have been working together on. This project, funded by the European Union under the Horizon 2020 programme, seeks to enhance the capabilities of the EU for implementing conflict prevention and peacebuilding interventions through sustainable, comprehensive and innovative civilian means. This meeting is one of the nine policy meetings the project is holding this year, at Member State level and in case study countries like Mali and Yemen, to discuss findings and recommendations.


The objective of this policy dialogue was to discuss findings, implications, and recommendations on EU SSR missions, based on research conducted in Mali and Afghanistan as part of the EU-funded WOSCAP project. Key questions that were addressed are:

  • How have the EU's capabilities in the field of SSR developed in Mali and Afghanistan?
  • What are the implications of these findings at the EU level, as well as for Member States such as The Netherlands?
  • What opportunities can be identified for the EU to improve its SSR engagements?

Some of these opportunities were identified as part of the conclusions from the WOSCAP project's research, which were developed into a specific set of draft policy recommendations, which were presented for consultation. The objective of the dialogue was to consult the participants and receive their feedback on these findings and recommendations, and in particular with reference to the Dutch government's efforts in the field of SSR and civil-military cooperation – also beyond the EU context.

The aim was to have a focused discussion with a selected group of about 15 participants. A report of the dialogue will be available soon.

The policy dialogue was followed by a public event: Pathways to Inclusive Conflict Prevention from a Research and Practice perspective.  Read more here



Improving EU Peacebuilding & Conflict Prevention

Why is Local Ownership to Peacebuilding Important?

Mary Martin on the Whole-of-Society Approach