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Justice, Security & Peacebuilding

Quality, accessibility, accountability and responsiveness of justice, policing and security is at the core of a stable society and growing economy

A comprehensive approach would cover the national security architecture, as well as the multiple facets of the justice system, policing and the defence apparatus. For many countries, there is a challenge to demobilise and reintegrate former fighters into society, and to strengthen capacity for peacebuilding and stabilisation.

Areas of expertise

  • National Security
  • Justice
  • Policing & Community Safety
  • Defence
  • Stabilisation & Peacebuilding

In many countries, the justice and security infrastructure could be strengthened to reduce conflict and improve governance

Areas of expertise

National Security

National security institutions sit above, and guide the activities of the police, justice, defence and intelligence agencies so that they operate coherently, comply with professional standards and reflect citizens’ priorities. They define strategic national security priorities, and determine how state institutions should be structured and resourced accordinglyas well as coordinating and evaluating the performance of those agencies 

A state’s national security architecture – national security councils and sub-national equivalents, technical secretariats, and the strategies and policies they develop – ensures that security priorities accurately reflect citizens’ needs, not institutional interests. It ensures that limited resources are properly allocated across agencies, and that agencies cooperate professionally. Yet in developing countries, national security institutions often have fewer resources, technical capacity, legal backing and historical legitimacy than the agencies they oversee.  

National security councils are often forced to make decisions without access to timely data, professional analysis, considered policy options, and accurate impact evaluations. The ability of technical secretariats to provide these services is frequently undermined by their own weak technical capacity, poor links with provincial and local bodies, and the reluctance of agencies to share information and intelligence. 

We have extensive experience in the complex work of strengthening national security institutions.  


An effective and well-coordinated justice sector demonstrates a state’s commitment to protecting the rights of its citizens and resolving disputes fairly and peacefully. 

The justice sector comprises many state and non-state institutions that, together, enable a country to define, protect, and enforce the rights of its citizens and to resolve disputes. 

Defined rights extend to investments, contract enforcement, and business risks – keeping the economy strong and reducing the likelihood of crime or conflict, building public confidence in national governance, and enhancing political stability. 

In developing countries, there are often weaknesses, such as too few qualified judges, prosecutors, and defence lawyers, a concentration in urban areas, and poor systems and coordination that result in justice moving slowly. If people resort to non-official dispute-resolution, the result can be disadvantage to some groups, such as women and children.  

Policing & Community Safety

A capable police service operating to professional standards is vital to build public trust in the criminal justice system. 

Citizens interact with the police more than any other state security institution. The performance of the police affects citizens’ day-to-day safety, and becomes a barometer of a state’s commitment to the rule of law and protecting the rights of all its citizens. Police are often the entry point into the wider criminal justice system, and will help determine whether people turn to official or non-official help in resolving disputes. 

In developing countries, police forces and the ministries overseeing them often struggle with under-resourcing, institutional inefficiency, and weak service delivery capacity. 

This may be compounded by a culture of impunity, and a lack of respect for human rights and professional standards. Police performance may be undermined by politicisation that prioritises protection of state or group interests ahead of citizens. International support to improving police performance must therefore strengthen police reputation, public legitimacy and ability to cooperate with community safety groups as much as technical skills and capabilities. 


An accountable, adequate and affordable defence sector improves internal and external security and strengthens national identity. It demonstrates a government’s commitment to democratic governance. 

In developing countries, armed forces often contribute to internal and external security when the police are unable to deal with armed militias or to extend police presence beyond urban areas. 

The military is one of the few state institutions that can strengthen national identity by integrating recruits from across a country into a single organisation and treating them equitably.  

Wencounter many issues, such as a military that is more politically influential and better resourced than the ministry tasked with overseeing it. Senior officers and soldiers may have a limited understanding or acceptance of good governance and its implications for the treatment of civilians. Disciplinary codes and command structures may be unclear or unenforced, undermining accountability for performance and behaviour. 

Stabilisation & Peacebuilding

Improving the lives of poor and vulnerable people can require restoration of basic security, re-establishing civil authority, and strengthening the inclusivity and sustainability of political settlements. 

The international community’s commitment to improving the lives of poor and vulnerable people is increasingly challenged by violent conflict and failure of governance. In these countries the political settlement that underpinned the state’s legitimacy may have collapsed or is openly contested, by either insurgent groups or citizens responding to violation of their rights. There may be armed groups that reject civil authority. Politics has been militarised and mechanisms of democratic governance have been marginalised. 

There must be a focus on reducing violence and restoring sufficient security for the first steps to be taken towards a sustainable political settlement. This may require building the capacity of state security institutions as well as non-state security actors that are perceived as legitimate by local populations. It may involve establishing civil control of those actors, nationally and locally, as well as strengthening the legitimacy of civil government by improving basic services. 

We have long experience in this work to facilitate dialogue and rebuild relationships between state and society, and between different sections of society. 

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