Guns and Butter Customs in Security Sector Reform


  • Johannes Malminen
  • Johan Tejpar

Publish date: 2010-06-01

Report number: FOI-R--2992--SE

Pages: 38

Written in: English


  • security sector reform
  • customs
  • economic development
  • integrated border management
  • state building
  • institutional reform
  • international trade


After the end of the Cold war, the link between security and development became more obvious. The international community has developed the concept of Security Sector Reforms (SSR) as a tool for post-conflict reconstruction. SSR consists of several core areas. The Integrated Border Management (IBM) area consists of customs, migration services and border police. Although customs targets both the economic and security aspects of development, up until now IBM has focused primarily on border police and migration issues. This report identifies opportunities to strengthen the role of customs in SSR. The study shows that increasing customs capacity in post-conflict countries could have positive implications for both security and economic development. Customs is an important institution because it facilitates international trade, contributes to capacity building and generates locally owned revenue that can be used in the state-building process. Strengthened customs procedures enable better control of cross-border flows of goods and people, which in turn have an impact on both traditional and non-traditional security. For example, better control of the smuggling of illegal goods limits the ability to finance insurgencies. For private-sector companies, favorable customs procedures are critical to success in international trade. International development organizations have not prioritized this issue. Although they often have a trade facilitation agenda, customs is a sensitive topic and usually considered a national matter. A criterion for success in strengthening customs in SSR IS A coordinated approach between SSR and development operators. National customs agencies need directives from their governments to engage in international capacity-building, while actors in SSR operations need more knowledge of the importance of customs in state building as well as a clear mandate to take action in this area.