In Liberia and Sierra Leone, strategies to reform and reconstruct the security sector have centred on re-establishing the state's monopoly on the use of force. However, little attention is given to the array of non-state actors that often play a major role in how individuals and communities experience security. Rebuilding the Security Sector in Post-Conflict Societies: Perceptions from Urban Liberia and Sierra Leone seek to address this gap by applying a human security approach to security provision across these two contexts. A key point of departure is that in the long run there can be no alternative within post-conflict societies to a locally owned security sector. Operationalising the concept of local ownership means that internationally-supported security sector reform (SSR) activities need to reflect these local realities. As explored within this study, fostering synergies between state and non-state security actors may therefore offer an important avenue to support more sustainable, legitimate SSR efforts.
Judy Smith-Höhn is a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa. Prior to her present position she was a research fellow at the GIGA Institute of African Affairs in Hamburg, Germany and later a senior researcher at the Centre for Conflict Resolution in Cape Town in South Africa. Her thematic emphases lie in the areas of violent conflict and its prevention, and security sector reform within a regional focus on Liberia, Sierra Leone, Zambia and Zimbabwe. She has published nationally and internationally on topics ranging from security sector reform and postconflict peacebuilding to democratic transformation in South Africa. She holds a PhD from the University of Leipzig, Germany, and a Diplom (masters degree) in Political Science from the University of Hamburg, Germany.