“Local ownership” has become a key criterion against which the success or failure of international development and reform programmes are being assessed. Yet, the literature abounds with criticisms about the lack of appropriation of Security Sector Reform (SSR) programmes by local authorities and armed forces. These criticisms generally point to local stakeholders’ insufficient buy-in, not to mention the role of spoilers they at times assume, in particular in contexts where weak governance makes instability profitable (both economically and politically). After looking into the European Union’s (EU) and Belgium’s efforts to support SSR in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, this study argues that local stakeholders’ participation is consistently overlooked in SSR programmes’ design and implementation, thereby hindering their local ownership and sustainability.

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Research line: Sahel and Sub-Saharan Africa

Source photo: Belgian Defence

Focus Paper 45

Security Sector Reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: ensuring local participation in programme design and implementation