Improving the outcomes of post-conflict peace-building and security reforms: Sierra Leone and Nepal

Submitting Institution

University of Birmingham

Unit of Assessment

Politics and International Studies

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Human Society: Political Science

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Summary of the impact

Jackson's research on post-conflict state-building has shaped processes of international intervention and internal reconciliation during and following conflicts in Africa and South Asia. His work has had impact in two main areas.

First, in Nepal where Jackson has directly contributed to securing successful implementation of the peace agreement to demobilise, rehabilitate and reintegrate 20,000 Maoist combatants though involvement in mediation between the Nepali military and government on the one hand, and Maoist combatants on the other.

Second, Jackson's research along with a government commissioned evaluation of the UK's peace intervention in Sierra Leone has resulted in the provision of expert advice on security sector reform to UK and foreign governments and non-governmental organisations, through:

  • delivery of major continuing professional development programmes to high-ranking security officials from around the world (many of whom have subsequently been deployed on peace-building missions);
  • policy evaluation for the Department of International Development (DFID) in the implementation of Security Sector Reform (SSR) programmes;
  • development and delivery of programmes of practitioner training for UK government agencies and NGOs;
  • acting as a senior security and justice adviser to the UK government's Stabilisation Unit and the DFID Head of Profession on security and governance.

Underpinning research

Research relevant to this case study has been carried out by Professor Paul Jackson (Professor of African Politics) since the mid 2000s at the University of Birmingham. During this period, Jackson's work has been facilitated by a number of research awards: (i) the Global Facilitation Network for Security Sector Reform (GFN-SSR), 2006-2010, which co-ordinated research and policy findings across a series of international research and policy networks; (ii) a DFID award (2008-2010) to investigate international intervention during the civil war in Sierra Leone; (iii) an ESRC award (2010-2011) to study the relationships of aid-dependent African governments with donors; and (iv) an EU Marie Curie grant (2010-2013) relating to the local ownership of external peace interventions.

Jackson's research, which connects issues of decentralisation, power-sharing and post-conflict reconstruction, has generated a range of publications since 2005 as well as collaboration with a number of international bodies — including the Government of Sweden's Folke Bernadotte Academy and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF). Both of these bodies explicitly link academic research with policy work.

The insights generated from Jackson's work fall into the following three areas:

  1. Security and development, specifically security sector reform, demobilisation of combatants and peace-building. Jackson's work has identified the need to establish a suitable relationship between the governance aspects of security and its technical component (i.e. the training and equipping of security forces). Jackson's research shows the limitation and lack of depth of much SSR (see output R1 below) and also how decisions taken early in peace-building processes can have long term implications for political structures (R2-3). In particular, work on the transition from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe, and consequent political developments regarding former military groups, shows that the aftermath of peace agreements can lead to particular forms of authoritarian rule (R2). Some of this work was undertaken as part of the process of developing the OECD-Development Assistance Committee Guidelines on Security Sector Reform, which contributed to the deepening of regional networks on SSR in South East Asia, Latin America, South Asia and Africa.
  2. Decentralisation, power and justice. Jackson's work is concerned with the boundary between state and non-state sectors, the distribution of power, and the provision of services. His findings on these themes have shown how peace-keeping and state-building processes are facilitated by an engagement with customary authorities and local political structures. This thus highlights the value of developing hybrid forms of governance that draw on customary and modernist practices, a process that is likely to enhance the political resilience of new states (R1, R3, R4-5).
  3. State building. Jackson's research also addresses theoretical aspects of state building and makes direct links between the `liberal peace' approach to states and the practicalities of ensuring state capacity on the ground (R3, R6). His research shows that it is important for policy makers — especially those engaged in international interventions — to understand the nature of the state and the meaning and practicality of state-building as it applies in different contexts. From this, lessons can be drawn on the possibility of designing locally appropriate forms of governance to strengthen the capacity of communities for security and justice (R1, R3).

References to the research

Research Outputs:

R1) Jackson, P. and Albrecht, P. (2010) Reconstructing Security after Conflict: Security Sector Reform in Sierra Leone. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan [available from HEI on request]


R2) Jackson, P. (2011a) `The civil war roots of military domination in Zimbabwe: The integration process following the Rhodesian War and the road to ZANLA dominance', The Journal of Civil Wars, vol. 13, issue 4, November, pp. 371-395 [doi: 10.1080/13698249.2011.629865]


R3) Jackson, P. (2011b) `SSR and the UK approach to state building', Third World Quarterly, vol. 32, no.10, November, pp. 1803-1822 [doi: 10.1080/01436597.2011.610577]


R4) Jackson, P. (2005) `Chiefs, money and politicians: rebuilding local government in Sierra Leone', Public Administration and Development, vol. 25, pp.49-58 [doi: 10.1002/pad.347]


R5) Jackson, P. (2007) `Reshuffling an old deck of cards? The politics of decentralisation in Sierra Leone', African Affairs, vol. 106, January, pp. 95-111 [doi: 10.1093/afraf/adl038]


R6) Jackson, P. (2009) `Negotiating with ghosts: Religion, conflict and peace in Northern Uganda', The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, Issue 402, June, pp.319-332 [doi: 10.1080/00358530902895402]



• Jackson, P (PI) International Perceptions and African Agency: Uganda and its Donors 1986- 2010, Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council. February 2011 - February 2012, £90,892

• Jackson, P (PI), Local Ownership in post-conflict security interventions (PEACE), Sponsor: Commission of the European Communities. June 2011 - May 2013, £142,852

• Jackson, P (PI) with Welby, A (CI); Al-Shayyal, A (CI), Bakrania, S (CI) and Kelly, B. (CI), GFN- SSR; Global Facilitation Network for Security Sector Reform, Sponsor: Department for International Development. June 2006 - October 2010, £2,218,567.

Details of the impact

Jackson's research has resulted in direct involvement in the Nepali peace process as well as in the provision of expert advice on security sector reform to UK government and other users.

1. Facilitating implementation of security sector reform in the Nepali Peace Process

Jackson was appointed in 2010 as the only International Adviser to the Special Committee of the Nepali Parliament on the Integration and Rehabilitation of Maoist Combatants. His appointment arose due to his research expertise in the development and implementation of peace agreements to end civil wars, and specifically the ways in which combatants from opposing factions could be integrated to form new national defence forces.

In Nepal, a ten year insurgency by Maoist guerrillas ended with a peace accord in 2006, a central element of which was that Maoist combatants would be integrated into the Nepalese Army. Jackson was appointed as International Advisor at a critical point in the implementation of the peace process. The Nepalese Army was reluctant to permit integration to take place due to concerns that the guerrillas were politically indoctrinated and would undermine the Army's neutrality, while within the Maoist Party there were disagreements about the wisdom of the settlement itself. With some 20,000 former Maoist combatants confined to camps in the four years since the peace agreement was signed, continued stability was dependent on overcoming this political problem.

Between 2010 and 2013, Jackson was engaged inside the peace process on a regular basis. This was a unique contribution given the Nepali participants' usual disinclination to include outside experts. Jackson's involvement was at the instigation of a senior Nepali official who had read his work on security sector reform in post conflict situations, and who had previously studied in the International Development Department at the University of Birmingham where Jackson is based.

Jackson's specific contribution has been in facilitating discussions between the leadership of the Maoist movement, other political parties and the Nepali Army, thus enabling the stalemate between the various factions to be overcome. This led directly in 2013 to the demobilisation and rehabilitation of the 20,000 Maoist combatants and their reintegration into the Nepalese state, some as members of the Army and others taking a retirement payment and returning to civilian life.

In undertaking this mediation role, Jackson drew on his research on state-building in post-conflict states to shape the perspectives of participants' on issues of security and justice, thereby ensuring the demystification of the language used in negotiations. In this role, he created a space in which safe discussions could take place and agreements reached.

The Chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and a former Prime Minister, commented that Jackson's: `thoughtful ideas, pragmatic recommendations and profound experience on the integration and rehabilitation process have made a substantial contribution to conclude[ing] the peace process' (see source 1 below), while HM Ambassador to Nepal — a close observer of the process — said: 'I have little doubt that [Jackson's] sustained engagement and advice has made a large contribution to the technical and political discussions on this key pillar of the peace process' (source 2).

2. Shaping the policy and practice of security sector reform

Jackson's extensive research on security sector reform has underpinned his role as a key advisor to UK government and, increasingly, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other national governments concerned with bringing peace and stability to conflict zones. Recognition of Jackson's expertise led the UK government's Department for International Development (DFID) to commission him to undertake an independent evaluation of the UK's 1997-2007 peace-building intervention in Sierra Leone, following the civil war in that country. Its purpose was to document and learn policy and operational lessons that could inform any future UK government interventions.

This policy evaluation produced a book (output R1 above) and a detailed policy report for DFID (source 3). This has been complemented by the production of a working paper series, published by the GFN-SSR, which provides advice to practitioners engaged with SSR programmes. These outputs emphasize the significance of engaging with local as well as national security actors in peace-building efforts and have been used as a resource for the UK government's security and justice training (source 4).

The UK Government Stabilisation Unit (bringing together efforts of the FCO, DFID and the MoD) has described Jackson's work as `very influential both in terms of how the policy community thinks about security sector reform and how DFID thinks about its own approaches' (source 4). The OECD has similarly observed that `the quality of (Jackson's) analysis (lies in) his understanding of the international policy debate on the issues and his familiarity with the operational constraints that actors face, (this) ensures his work feeds directly into a broader process of OECD policy development' (source 5).

Jackson's role has been formalised since 2011 in his role as advisor to the Stabilisation Unit and to the DFID Head of Profession on security and governance. In these capacities, Jackson has a direct input into UK stabilisation policy and evaluation. The Stabilisation Unit has further noted that Jackson's `appointment is further proof that he has been not only influential but also valued by the UK policy community' (source 4).

Jackson has also been central to the GFN-SSR (2006-2010), a £3.5m programme funded by DFID, designed to provide policy-relevant research findings directly to the UK government. Over a four-year contract period, Jackson designed and delivered a research-based training package four times each year. The course was aimed at developing the expertise of policymakers in the theory and practice of SSR. In 2010, following the end of the contract, Jackson led a consortium involving university, government and private contractors in the delivery of Security and Justice training across DFID, the MoD, the FCO and the Ministry of Justice, as well as to participants from the NGO sector and foreign governments (including Germany, the US, Italy, The Netherlands, South Sudan, Nigeria). To date, more than 500 UK personnel have been through these senior level courses and have thence gone on to be deployed in UK overseas stabilisation operations.

Sources to corroborate the impact

[1] Factual statement provided by Former Prime Minister of Nepal, and Chairman, Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

[2] Factual statement provided by HM Ambassador to Nepal, FCO.

[3] Security Transformation in Sierra Leone 1997-2007, GFN-SSR and DFID, jointly authored with Peter Albrecht, 180 pages. January 2009.

[4] Factual statement provided by Deputy Director, UK Government Stabilisation Unit, FCO/DFID/MoD.

[5] Factual statement provided by International Network on Conflict and Fragility (INCAF), Development Co-operation Directorate, OECD.