Strengthening democracy, security and civil-military relations through security sector reform
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Bristol
Unit of AssessmentPolitics and International Studies
Summary Impact TypeSocietal
Research Subject Area(s)
Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration, Political Science
Law and Legal Studies: Law
Summary of the impact
The research conducted by Professor Timothy Edmunds has had three primary
impacts. First, it has played a role in framing policy and setting the
operational agenda for security sector reform (SSR) programmes by national
governments and international organisations. Second, the research has had
a direct influence on the substance of security and defence reforms in
parts of the post-communist and western Balkan regions, particularly in
relation to the consolidation of democratic control over the security
sector. Finally, it has had an impact on the evolution of British defence
policy and armed forces since 2007, and on the debate leading up to the
introduction of a new Armed Forces Covenant in May 2011. The research
addresses change and transformation in military, police and intelligence
agencies through the development and evolution of the concept of SSR. In
so doing, it examines how security actors can both threaten and facilitate
democratisation and human security goals in post-authoritarian and
post-conflict societies, and the manner in which these issues can be
addressed through international policy. It also `reverse engineers' the
questions and lessons of SSR to interrogate wider challenges of defence
transformation and civil-military relations in western democracies, and
particularly the UK.
The body of research relating to the impact claimed in this case study
refers to 2003 onwards when Edmunds was Lecturer in Politics at the
University of Bristol (2003-06), Senior Lecturer (2006-09), Reader
(2009-12) and Professor of International Security (2012-present). Security
sector reform is now widely employed by development and security actors in
a range of contemporary conflict, post-conflict and post-authoritarian
environments, from the Balkans to Afghanistan to Sub-Saharan Africa. The
research applies intellectual rigour and insights from the civil-military
relations field to this area      . It is also `reverse
engineers' the questions posed by SSR to interrogate wider challenges of
defence transformation and civil- military relations in western
democracies, and particularly the UK    .
From civilian control to democratic control: reframing civil-military
relations. Edmunds' research was the first to elucidate a clear
conceptual distinction between civilian control and democratic control of
the armed forces and between `first' and `second generation'
civil-military relations (and SSR)      : this approach
is now widely used amongst practitioners in the field. It argues that
democratisation in the security sector is not captured well by notions of
`civilian control' of the military, but that a wider conception of
democratic governance of the security sector is required. This
incorporates not simply formal, institutional and legalistic mechanisms of
civilian supremacy over the military and security sector (that is `first
generation' SSR) but also the development of capacities in other areas,
including the civilian bureaucracy, parliament and civil-society, which
enable oversight, transparency and accountability of the security sector
to become meaningful (`second generation' SSR). The research thus
emphasises the importance of civilian capacities in SSR as much as
organisational change in the security sector itself or simple legislative
change, noting the importance of effectiveness and efficiency of
institutions if oversight and transparency are to function in practice.
This work was initially developed with Cottey (Cork) and Forster
(Nottingham, King's, Bristol) between 1999-2004 (Edmunds as second author)
but mainly in Edmunds' further work at Bristol from 2003 onwards.
From neutral and generic to normative and contextual: redesigning
security sector reform. The research also interrogates the empirical
practice of security sector reform and civil-military relations through
studies of postcommunist Europe and the Western Balkans    
 . Here it emphasises the normative nature of the security sector
reform project, in contrast to some policy literature which presents SSR
as a neutral, technocratic process of organisational betterment. In so
doing, it highlights the ways in which externally derived, often generic,
models of reform can be inappropriate to local political, institutional
and society circumstances, leading to policy failure. It captures the
manner in which local actors can circumvent or co-opt external policy
prescription through informal practices and institutions, which exist
alongside their formal counterparts. The main research on this issue took
place in 2002-09 and is ongoing.
From static and national to transformative and international: a
critical approach to military transformation. Finally, the research
applies insights from Edmunds' work on SSR       to
examine how organisational responses to new security challenges in western
democracies are shaped through the interplay of international norms and
domestic social, political and institutional circumstances. It focuses on
the changing role of European armed forces, with an emphasis on the UK
case    . It argues that the demands of the internationalised
military transformation agenda, adopted by European countries including
the UK and reflected in ambitious defence policy goals, operational
deployments and military procurement objectives, sit increasingly uneasily
with domestic political circumstance, institutional interests and economic
constraints. In the UK case (work developed initially with Forster with
Edmunds as project lead and lead author), it argues that a substantive
revision in the underlying assumptions of British defence policy and
strategy making has become necessary. It contends that such debates cannot
be divorced from the social context in which they take place and has
argued for a renewed `military covenant' to underpin British
civil-military relations. This research was initiated in 2006 and
References to the research
 Edmunds, T. (2007) Security Sector Reform in Transforming
Societies: Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro (Manchester: Manchester
University Press, 2007). Can be supplied upon request. 23 citations.
 Edmunds, T. (2008) `Intelligence Agencies and Democratisation:
Continuity and Change in Serbia After Milošević', Europe-Asia Studies,
60: 1. DOI: 10.1080/09668130701760315. Peer reviewed. Listed in REF2.
 Edmunds, T. (2010) 'The Defence Dilemma in Britain', International
Affairs, 86: 2, March. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2346.2010.00887.x. Peer
reviewed. Listed in REF2.
 Edmunds, T. (2012), `British Civil-Military Relations and the Problem
of Risk', International Affairs, 88: 2, March. DOI:
10.1111/j.1468-2346.2012.01070.x. Peer reviewed. Listed in REF2.
 Edmunds, T. `Serbia 2007: Illiberal Transformation or Protracted
Transition', Institute for Advanced Studies, 2007, £2,843.
 Edmunds, T. `Security Sector Reform in Serbia-Montenegro and
Croatia', University Research Fellowship (UoB), 2005-06, £10,000.
 Edmunds, T. and Hadzic, M. 'Security Sector Reform in Serbia',
2005-06, Institute for Advanced Studies Benjamin Meaker fellowship,
 Edmunds T. (CI), with Dorman, A. (PI) and Dunn, D. (CI),
`Reconnecting the academic community to British defence and security
policy: the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review', ESRC Seminar
Series, October 2013-September 2015, £21,623.
Details of the impact
The research has had impact in three main ways:
First, the research has played a role in framing policy and setting
the operational agenda for security sector reform   . SSR
has come to be an important policy tool used by a variety of international
organisations and western nations in conflict, post-conflict and
authoritarian environments. It has been particularly prominent in the
western Balkans, sub-Saharan Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, and more recently
the countries of the `Arab Spring'. The UK Department for International
Development (DfID) and Ministry of Defence (MoD), NATO (including the
International Security Assistance Force, ISAF), EU and other national
governments all have formal SSR assistance programmes. Increasingly, SSR
has gained prominence in US policy too, both in Iraq and Afghanistan, but
also more widely through a new programme of the US Institute for Peace
(USIP). The impact of the research is apparent in the policy frameworks
used by international and local actors in implementing SSR initiatives in
practice, which apply explicitly or implicitly the first and second
generation SSR framework developed in the research   . The
UN Development Programme's 2002 Human Development Report, which
first brought SSR issues onto the UN agenda (where they remain) drew on
and cited Edmunds' work (pp. 91-92). Currently, the most influential
framing documents in this area are the 2007 and 2008 OECD (Organisation
for Economic Cooperation and Development) DAC (Development Assistance
Co-operation Directorate) Handbooks on SSR. These also draw on and
cite and Edmunds' work on first and second generation SSR  
, including civilian capacity building in SSR in distinguishing between
executive control, parliamentary oversight and civil society oversight and
on the balance (and tensions) between effectiveness, oversight and
efficiency in the security sector [h]. Since then, the research has
informed many major contemporary SSR initiatives, shaping legislative,
institutional and organisation reforms in many post-conflict and
post-authoritarian societies. It has benefited international SSR
practitioners, and contributed to increasing inclusion of SSR capacity
building across the globe [h] [j].
The themes developed in the research are apparent in the SSR doctrine of
a range of different organisations and actors, including the UN, OECD, EU,
NATO's Partnership for Peace and ISAF, the Geneva Centre for the
Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) and national governments such as
that of the UK [see, for example, j]. These initiatives all employ
concepts and formulations developed in Edmunds' work, including first
and second generation SSR issues and the normative nature of the
reform process      . Indeed, most international
SSR initiatives now explicitly recognise the importance of securing `local
ownership' if they are to be successful, and the need to tailor reform
programmes to local context [h, esp. Section 5; j, pp. 3, 11, 13, 19].
Edmunds has advised the USIP (on lessons from postcommunist Europe for SSR
in the MENA region, with an impact on USIP SSR training programmes in
those countries), the Folke Bernadotte Academy of the Swedish Foreign
Ministry (as a member of the SSR working group feeding into the
Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee for Swedish government SSR
initiatives, including training and capacity-building programmes in
Afghanistan, DRC, Liberia and elsewhere), and the Geneva Centre for the
Democratic Control of Armed Forces (on first and second Generation SSR,
providing training programmes and advice for policy makers and
practitioners worldwide). Edmunds was invited to be one of two academic
instructors for an SSR training course for Afghan parliamentarians,
civil-servants, police and armed forces, run by NATO in February 2013. He
is author of the `security sector reform' chapter in the Routledge Handbook
of Civil- Military Relations (2012), a `primer' aimed at introducing
policy makers and practitioners to the key principles of SSR. The research
has also formed the main conceptual basis for a major project on internal
roles for European Armed Forces for DCAF, which has run from 2010 to date
[c]. The impact of the work can be seen in the regulatory frameworks for
civil-security sector relations developed in countries undergoing SSR, in
legislation governing parliamentary oversight of the military, police and
intelligence agencies, and in SSR training programmes which emphasise the
engagement of civilian as well as security sector personnel.
Second, the research has had a direct influence on the substance of
security and defence reforms in parts of the post-communist and western
Balkan regions. The framework developed in Edmunds 2004, 2007 and
2008    continues to inform the substance of defence reviews in
many of these countries and in Serbia particularly [f]. This is especially
the case in terms of the way in which these documents have drawn (either
implicitly or explicitly) on the first and second generation framework
in distinguishing between civilian and democratic control of armed forces,
and structured their discussions and arrangements for civil-military
relations on this basis. The research has benefited Ministries of Defence,
armed forces and security sector reform practitioners in postcommunist
Europe and the Western Balkans. It has contributed to strengthened
democratic control of the armed forces in these countries, including the
engagement of civil society actors in arrangements for oversight and
civil-military relations. It has also helped shape the frameworks used to
define expected outcomes and evaluate such reforms as they have taken
place [a]. The impact of the research has been explicitly recognised by
defence policy makers in the region [a] and has led to Edmunds'
appointment to the Advisory Board of the Belgrade Centre for Security
Policy, a local expert group with a direct role in drafting and reviewing
Serbian defence and security legislation.
Finally, the research has had a significant impact on the evolution of
British defence policy and armed forces since 2006. On publication,
Edmunds and Forster 2007 , which applied lessons from Edmunds' research
on SSR to the UK defence reform process, received widespread attention and
analysis in all major UK newspapers and media outlets and led to questions
in both Houses of Parliament. It is widely viewed as providing the first
systematic analysis of the structural tensions within British defence and
civil-military relations and has been called `the single most important
think tank publication on defence' [i]. The arguments of the paper —
particularly with regard to the discrepancy between ambitious policy goals
and procurement objectives and the practical constraints of operations and
defence planning, as well as the changing relationship of soldier to the
armed forces and military covenant; all of which are manifestations of the
`local ownership' critique developed in       —
set the agenda for a subsequent proliferation of academic and policy work
in this area [g]. Edmunds 2010  — drafts of which were circulated in
policy-making circles in Whitehall — developed these themes and coalesced
the argument in terms which were closely reflected in the government's
defence green paper of 2010 [e, pp. 12-16] and subsequently in the
Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) of the same year. This was
the first document of its type for many years to take seriously the gap
between defence policy commitments and available resources, reflecting one
of the key finding of Edmunds' research. The research at  called for a
wholesale review of the UK defence establishment and MoD, a call that was
finally recognised in the Levene Report on Defence Reform of 2011.
The formalisation of an armed forces covenant was adopted in the
Conservative Party's 2010 General Election manifesto and passed into
legislation in 2011, with direct impact on the level of support offered to
armed forces personnel and their families [d].
Edmunds 2012  has been included on the UK Chief of the Defence Staff's
`Recommended Reading List' [b], indicating the purchase of the research
amongst strategic planners at the highest level of the MoD and armed
forces. The research    has been included on the curriculum for
the Advanced Command and Staff Course MA programme at the UK Joint
Services Command and Staff College (JSCSC), the most important UK
educational programme for military officers preparing for senior command.
Edmunds is a member of working groups that are shaping aspects of UK and
NATO defence transformation . These include the UK MoD's Defence
Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) working group on strategic
futures, which is developing new strategic planning methodologies to be
used in the forthcoming UK National Security Strategy and SDSR of 2015;
and a NATO working group on developing common professional military
education standards across the Alliance (having been nominated to join the
group by the Director of the UK Defence Academy and the Commandant of the
Joint Services Command and Staff College). In September 2013, he was
elected to the national executive of the Council of Military Education
Committees of the UK (COMEC) the primary contact point between UK
universities and the MoD.
Sources to corroborate the impact
[a] Factual statement, Parliamentary Ombudsperson for the Republic of
Serbia Parliament (2013). Corroborates impact in Serbia.
[b] Chief of the Defence Staff (2013), Recommended Reading List:
Defence Organisation, UK Defence Academy, http://www.da.mod.uk/recommended-reading/organisation.
Corroborates impact on UK senior military personnel.
[c] Schnabel, A. and Krupanski, M (2012), `Mapping Evolving Internal
Roles for Armed Forces', Security Sector Reform Paper 7 (Geneva:
Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces), http://www.dcaf.ch/Publications/Mapping-Evolving-Internal-Roles-of-the-Armed-Forces.
Corroborates impact on SSR processes.
[d] UK MoD (2011), The Armed Forces Covenant (London: MoD), http://bit.ly/lpByry.
Corroborates impact on the MoD, services personnel and their families.
[e] UK MoD (2010), Adaptability and Partnership: Issues for the
Strategic Defence Review (Norwich: The Stationary Office), http://bit.ly/15guhKy.
Corroborates impact on UK strategy.
[f] Republic of Serbia MoD (2010), White Paper on Defence of the
Republic of Serbia (Belgrade: Ministry of Defence), http://www.isn.ethz.ch/Digital-
impact in Serbia.
[g] Taylor, C. and Waldman, T. (2008) `British Defence Policy since
1997', Research Paper 08/57 27 (London: House of Commons).
http://bit.ly/1bRSfiJ. Corroborates impact on UK defence.
[h] OECD (2008), OECD DAC Handbook on Security Sector Reform (SSR):
Supporting Security and Justice, OECD 2008, http://bit.ly/1dnRxfD.
Corroborates impact in OECD SSR.
[i] Dorman, A. and Dunn, D. (2008), `The Strange Death of British Defence
Policy', British International Studies Association Conference.
Corroborates impact on UK defence thinking.
[j] UN (2008), `Securing Peace and Development: The Role of the United
Nations in Supporting Security Sector Reform', Report of the Secretary
General (New York: United Nations), 23 Jan., http://bit.ly/1gwPNk3.
Corroborates impact on UN-supported SSR.