The Security Sector Reform course from the viewpoint of an intern
The Finnish Defence Forces International Centre held a Security Sector Reform (SSR) course in the second week of May. The course is designed as part of the Academic Programme of the European Security and Defence College.
The aim of the course is to teach about SSR in both theory and practice. Participants learn about common issues and learn to develop solutions to common barriers in SSR. The group of about 30 participants consisted of specialists in several areas and institutions, such as the police, military personnel, the European Union, the World Bank, and others.
Most of the participants work or have worked in positions related to SSR, and therefore they formed a great source of knowledge to support the work of the instructors. The course consisted of lectures on theory and on putting this into practice through case studies and other hands-on exercises. Most of the exercises were carried out in smaller groups, and afterwards the results were shared among all the participants. The advantage of working in small groups became clear in the diverse solutions developed in and new ideas developed in each group. Besides the informative aspect of the group tasks, they also added to the positive and constructive atmosphere of the course and contributed to networking.
As an intern at FINCENT, I had a great chance to participate in this course. SSR was not familiar to me beforehand, and so to prepare for the course I completed an online course on the basics of SSR beforehand. The large scope of the topic took me by surprise, as I was expecting SSR to focus mainly on governance and the security sector, and to be found only in the higher levels of society. SSR turned out to be a process that can take place at any level and among any group of people, not just within institutions. Topics such as gender and the role of media were also covered, as they are important influences on policymakers in the reform process. The major takeaway from the course was the core aims and challenges of a reform process, and getting an overall grasp of SSR.
The exercises very effectively demonstrated the dramatic impact that one’s own values and background can have on our decision-making. The experiences of SSR that were shared by the other course participants was very valuable to me, as there is no other source for that know-how. As an intern, it is important to network with people from different sectors of the crisis management field. Overall, the course gave a clear understanding of SSR and knowledge to apply in work and study later on.
Text by Edith Vakkila, Political Science student, intern