Hybrid Security Orders in Sub-Saharan Africa

Cover Page
Edited by: Nigale Bagayoko and Freida Ibiduni M'Cormack
July 2012
Volume 43 Issue 4

The rise of the security sector reform (SSR) concept has recognised and renewed the importance of security forces in democratisation processes and paved the way for a civilianisation of security provision in African states. Security reform has increasingly been seen by international actors as a central matter of democracy with security forces being considered as dedicated to promoting and defending the rule of law and, ultimately, the degree to which political and human rights can be enjoyed equally by all citizens. Transforming such forces into rights-respecting services that provide protection both to the state and to citizens has been one of the most complex challenges, particularly in post-conflict situations where security forces have often perpetuated serious human rights violations.

This IDS Bulletin focuses on both formal and informal governance mechanisms which characterise African security systems. It identifies informal networks and processes which, alongside legally established structures, influence decision-making processes as well as policy implementation. Articles are based on research conducted within the 'Global Uncertainties: Security in an Africa of Networked, Multilevel Governance' programme and address the current state of the security sector in African countries, referring to the analytic models of 'hybridity' to grasp the current realities and the prospects for change in security-related policies. They reaffirm the importance of conducting any analysis of African security governance at multiple levels; show how networks are seen as central in explaining how all the different levels function; and highlight the continuing importance of ethnicity in the legitimation of authority.