Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD-DAC)

OECD DAC Handbook on Security System Reform


The recently published OECD DAC Handbook on Security System Reform (2007) is an operational manual for those working at both headquarters and field level to support security and justice reform. This Handbook is the product of a two-year consultation process involving policy makers and SSR practitioners, aimed at making security and justice service delivery more effective. Written by practitioners for practitioners, this work takes Security System Reform (DAC Guidelines and Reference Series, 2005) to the next level by focusing on the practicalities and challenges of supporting the implementation of security and justice reforms.

The Handbook provides an assessment framework that helps place reforms in their political context and to identify potential entry points for reform. The Handbook encourages more attention to be paid to national capacity, local ownership and enhanced security and justice service delivery. It provides good practice for international engagement across the development, diplomatic and security domains. Most importantly this Handbook aims to facilitate better co-ordination amongst the international community in their support to nationally owned reform efforts.

The operational commitments from the Handbook were endorsed by OECD DAC Ministers and Heads of Agency at their annual meeting in April 2007, where they agreed to integrate this work into their national strategies on SSR and to act collectively to use the methodology proposed by the Handbook within their country programmes. Furthermore, this work was commended by the recent G8 Heiligendamm Summit as being an important instrument with which to tackle the challenges of insecurity and development in Africa.  The work of the OECD DAC on SSR has already begun to have an impact and has contributed to the ongoing thinking towards developing a comprehensive, coherent and co-ordinated approach to SSR within both the EU and the UN.

The integration of SSR within donor strategies and programmes can be facilitated through the use of the training module on SSR that has been developed to accompany the application of the SSR Handbook. The training module provides a robust introduction to SSR, and focuses on providing participants with the skills necessary to understand country contexts, undertake an SSR assessment, as well as design, plan, implement and evaluate SSR programmes.

If you would like to receive copies of the Handbook for your field offices, please contact or tel: +33145247546. The Handbook will be available in English, French and Spanish. The Handbook, together with the shorter ‘Information Notes’, can also be downloaded from For more information on our SSR training modules or our work on SSR please feel free to contact or tel: +33145241705.


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