Security Sector Reform in South East Europe

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Fellowship Research Proposal (2002-3 Fellowship)

The objective of the project is to examine the security sector reform in South East Europe, to provide a South East European perspective on the issue and to make recommendations to the relevant authorities in the region as well as international organizations on reforming security sector.


The purpose of this project is to examine the Security Sector Reform in South East Europe and the role that the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe  plays in helping security sector reform  in the South East European countries of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Yugoslavia and Macedonia.

With the end of the Cold War, both international financial institutions (IFIs) and bilateral donors began to realise the need to review the nature of both their economic and military assistance programmes. The weaknesses of an economics-driven approach to development became more widely recognised, and increasing emphasis began to be placed on the need to improve domestic governance in parallel with economic and social investment. The EU framed this new approach in terms of the concept of “structural stability”, defined as a situation involving sustainable economic development, democracy and respect for human rights, viable political structures, and healthy social and environmental conditions, with the capacity to manage change without resort to violent conflict.

Donors also raised concerns at the negative impact of an excessive or misdirected security sector for domestic governance, becoming less tolerant of the effects of excessive defence spending on the economies of developing countries (Ball, 1993, W. Bank 1998). The increased emphasis on human rights and democratisation in donor attitudes to South East European Countries (SEECs) also inevitably raised questions relating to the security sector. In response to these concerns, the key IFIs have begun to consider how they could most appropriately promote SSR. These include the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC), European Bank for Reconstructions and Development (EBRD), and European Investment Bank (EIB).

Cooperative regional security arrangements, such as the Stability Pact for South East Europe (SP), which has special provisions on security sector reform (SSR), have stimulated thinking about how to implement comprehensive reform in the security sector. SSR has become a major area in the framework of the SP. Progress in this area is closely watched as many projects on SSR are included in the Quick Start Projects of the Pact, that are expected to be finished as soon as possible. Success in SSR, will affect donor countries to consider the funding of the other projects related to the SP.


What is SSR? Why it is important? What are its goals and instruments? What are its effects on conflict prevention and on the security situation of a country? What actors contribute to or impede successful SSR in SEE?

Lack of security, for the state and/or for its citizens, is a major obstacle to development in many SEECs. Of the seven SP recipients of aid, five (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Yugoslavia) suffered serious armed conflict during 1990s. Other SP recipients remain vulnerable to an outbreak of instabilities.

The underlying causes of instabilities in SEE include weak or ineffective government structures, political instability and economic impoverishment, exacerbated by environmental degradation, and lack of appropriate coping mechanisms. Conflict in turn further reduces the possibilities for economic and political development, contributing to a downwards spiral in which insecurity, criminalisation and underdevelopment are mutually reinforcing.

In some circumstances, an ineffective security sector can be a result of inadequate resources. Budgetary crises can result, for example, in governments being unable to provide adequate financing for police pay, encouraging corruption, declining morale and low productivity. Yet, in other cases, the problems of the security sector are often a result of misallocation rather than inadequate funding. As a result of their structural position, the military are often allocated resources well in excess of legitimate needs. Where the armed forces are directly involved in politics, corruption often results, further increasing the negative impacts of the security sector on the prospects for equitable economic development. While most individuals and communities lack basic levels of security, defence budgets are wasted on unnecessary procurement and privileges.

The obstacle to progress that an unreformed security sector can represent is clearly evident in South East Europe. The failure to achieve sustainable economic development, however, has continued to leave the region vulnerable to regional and ethnic conflicts. At the heart of SEECs' problems has been their inability to create an accountable and effective security sector. Without radical SSR, the prospects for successful economic development in the region will remain poor. SSR, and the problem of good governance more generally, is therefore the most immediate and important development challenge facing the countries of the region.


On 10 June 1999, in the EU Ministerial Summit held in Cologne, it was decided to adopt the Stability Pact for Southeast Europe under the comprehensive approach, which will include both international organisations and bilateral donors to foster the development in SEECs.

The Stability Pact is aimed to bolster the cooperation between international institutions and bilateral donors that are involved in the development of the region.  SP is established beyond the realm of an organisation. It is worth to note that the successful SP can help to strengthen the concept of SSR and give further option for the coordination among international organisations in the field. The strategies applied in SP, can later be replicated to other regions.

The structure of the SP and its procedures are reminiscent of those of the G7/G8 and the Contact Group.  Policymakers in favour of the informal character of the SP are trying to avoid further process of institutionalisation of the SP. There are 29 participants   (among which there are receiving and donor countries) in the SP in addition to 11 facilitators, and 5 regional initiatives.  Receiving countries of the Stability Pact: Albania; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Romania; Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

To reach the objectives of the Pact a South Eastern Europe Regional Table (RT) has been set up. RT reviews progress under the Stability Pact, carries it forward and provides guidance for advancing its objectives. RT includes participating states and facilitators. Under the RT, there are three working tables (WT).  One of the working tables is on Security Issues, which is WT No. 3.


Above observations illustrate that the SP is a new and unique structure, which begs for the further analysis. Furthermore, the absence of any research paper or project on SP and its influence on SSR has further attracted me to focus on SP. In the proposed research project I will try to debate whether the SP is an acceptable addition to the European institutional structure on the development of SSR in SEE.

Drawing from the above perspective, the research project will try to examine SSR and its conduct in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Yugoslavia and Macedonia. The objective is to provide a Balkan perspective to the concept of SSR and its role in the conflict prevention. SSR is a topic that has been addressed in much recent literature. While most of the literature focuses on the development perspective of the DR, this project aims to provide a treatment of the topic examining its impact on the security situations of the countries in the region.

The experiences in Africa, Asia and Latin America in the field of SSR, have been widely analyzed by a number of researchers. However, there is a lack of research on the SSR conducted during 1989-2000 period in SEE.

The project will be organised as follows, first, it will be necessary to define security sector in the context of SEE and different interpretation of the issue in other regions. Also in the first part I will focus on the structure of SP (including working tables and donor conferences), participating countries as well as facilitating states and organisations and their role in the implementation of SSR in SEE.

Secondly, I will briefly describe the empirical phenomenon “Security Sector Reform in SEE.” The third part of the project, which will be the main part, is an application of selected theories of SSR, on the case. Finally, I will try to evaluate the explanatory power of existing theories and if necessary I will try to draw alternative explanations of SSR.

The methodology of the research comprises four interrelated components: institutional and historical analysis, the empirical research based on the planned research visits to participating countries of SP.
Institutional analysis examines the framework of SSR. The historical analysis components of the research’s methodology consist of the evolution of the SSR in SEE. The other component of the research’s methodology is interviewing. This involves interviews with people from the relevant intergovernmental and nongovernmental organisations, academia as well as security sector, and in the case of demilitarisation and reintegration, with former combatants.
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