Accepted paper:

Translations of security sector reform in Guinea-Bissau

Author:

Christoph Kohl (Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research (GEI), Braunschweig, Germany)

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines the collaboration between international donor institutions and experts on the one hand and “locals” on the other in Guinea-Bissau's reform of the security sector.

Paper long abstract:

Since its emergence in the 1990s the security sector reform (SSR) paradigm has been conceived by donors as a pre-condition for peaceful development in conflict torn countries According to relevant norm setters like the UN or OECD, among others, the security sector encompasses the military, police, judiciary, civilian oversight bodies, legislature etc. It is believed that an accountable and effective security sector contributes not only to security in a narrow sense but also to improved governance, economic growth, and social progress.

A crucial SSR buzz concept is "local ownership". Although international organizations intend to transform the security sector of countries chastised as "fragile" and "failed" like Guinea-Bissau by unilaterally exporting their own normative models and insist on (financial) donor conditionality, local ownership is nonetheless regarded as prerequisite for successful SSR. "Local ownership" aims at the integration of "local" voices, demands, and knowledge in the reform process.

This paper examines the collaboration between international donor institutions and experts on the one hand and "locals" - whoever they may be - on the other. More precisely: How is SSR translated into the Bissau-Guinean reform arena and how is handled and negotiated the tacit conflict between donor conditionality and "local ownership" in the security development encounter? To which extent do diverse worlds of perceptions, discourses, and practices of differently-positioned both "locals" and international experts collide, and which potentials and problems do consequently arise in the course of collaboration?

Findings result from am ethnographic fieldwork carried out in February and March 2013 in Guinea-Bissau.

panel IP06
Collaboration, (in)determinacy and the work of translation in development encounters