Arming the Peace. The Sensitive Business of Capacity Building,


  • Claes Nilsson
  • Kristina Zetterlund

Publish date: 2011-10-14

Report number: FOI-R--3269--SE

Pages: 59

Written in: English


  • Capacity building
  • Security Sector Reform
  • Peacekeeping
  • State building


Capacity building as a strategy in peacekeeping and stabilisation operations is gaining increasing momentum. The idea is that, in the long run, sustainable solutions have to come from within conflict-ridden countries and enjoy the support of their populations. Fragile countries are to be strengthened so that they can shoulder their own problems, thus reducing the need for international assistance. In the hunt for viable exit strategies, capacity building has become a key activity. In Iraq and Afghanistan, building local capacity has become a central theme in the international community?s exit strategies. This study sets out to clarify some of the key challenges and opportunities offered by security sector capacity building. The aim is to analyse the concept and its application, and, in the end, highlight areas which need to be considered when engaging in security sector capacity building. The analysis shows how capacity building has become intimately linked to state building and how this state-centric approach might not be appropriate in many conflict, or post-conflict settings. Other issues such as local ownership, the importance of legitimacy, private security actors and the need for a broader set of instruments in security sector capacity building are also discussed. The study concludes that capacity building as a strategy is appealing, both to providers and recipients. It sits well with the local ownership paradigm and it could potentially save both lives and money by reducing the pressure for external military forces and facilitating "light footprints" by international actors. However, for security sector capacity building to be effective and sustainable, one must recognise the complexity of each specific context and the need for a long-term strategy.

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