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The Links Between Security Sector Reform and Development

Client: Australian Civil-Military Centre
Australian Civil-Military Centre
Project date
Qualitative research

Background:  State fragility, ongoing conflict, instability, political violence, organised criminal violence and interpersonal violence inhibit social and economic progress worldwide. The costs of insecurity and violence are staggering - research conducted in 2012 found that the direct and indirect cost to the global economy was in the order of US$9.5 trillion. The direct costs of violence placed on governments and development agencies, such as medical care, policing and security enforcement, slow down opportunities for economic growth. The indirect costs are linked to the loss of human capital, loss of wages and productivity, and psychological impacts on victims, further reducing opportunities for genuine productivity and social progress.

In 2013, Sustineo was engaged to research the impact and cost of political, criminal, and interpersonal violence on socio-economic development. This project sought to better understand the links between security sector reform and development to improve the planning and operation of international interventions in fragile and post conflict states.

Approach: A deep understanding of the diverse international roles Australia plays in the global security and development operations, and the fragmented nature of the research and data on security and development was integral to this research. The Sustineo team developed a detailed conceptual framework, informed by a rigorous and comprehensive literature review, to guide the data analysis and exploration of the barriers that insecurity poses to development. This included drawing on a broad range of academic and government literature to gain a deep understanding of the intersection between security and development. A detailed case study method was designed focussing on Timor-Leste, Solomon Islands, Afghanistan, and South Sudan, to explore and highlight how violence and insecurity can inhibit development in diverse contexts.

Outcome: The final research report provided a detailed exploration of the relationship between security and development, with a particular focus on how violence inhibits development in fragile and conflict affected states. The report presents a comprehensive synthesis of available information on the costs of different types of violence and how resulting insecurity constrains political and socio-economic development. Sustineo provided a demand side overview of the changing nature of insecurity and violence, and their links to underdevelopment, to inform the design of supply side responses, such as security sector reform.