The United Nations and Security Sector
Reform: Lessons from the Field
Master of Arts Post War Recovery Studies
University of York
Post War Reconstruction and Development Unit
Security Sector Reform has the potential to enable the emergence of a sustainable peace and move a post conflict state into long term development, the UN has a unique position in post conflict environments but has yet to formulate a comprehensive approach to SSR. This paper seeks to analyse the security sector reform activities that the current UN peacekeeping mission in Timor-Leste is engaging in with a view to making recommendations for the future development of a comprehensive UN approach to SSR. The paper explores the debate around SSR as well as tracing the UN’s previous engagements with the security sector. This will provide the context to use Timor-Leste as a case study in order to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the UN’s role in SSR there.
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It will be argued that the UN mission has been constrained by a lack of prioritisation of SSR, a poor understanding of SSR theory within the UN family and mission leadership as well as the legacy of the UN’s past mistakes.
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It is clear that these mistakes have the potential to be repeated in future missions and so it is vital that the lessons from the mission be learned and changes put into effect.
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