Security System Reform

Effective and accountable security institutions can make an important contribution to peace and stability. To that end, Canada actively participates in international efforts to assist countries reform their security system. Canada deploys experts to support security system reform activities, funds security system reform-related projects, and contributes to the development of international security system reform norms and policies.

Security system reform is a process through which a country seeks to establish effective and accountable security institutions. A fundamental principle of security system reform is that security institutions must carry out their functions in compliance with democratic principles and those of good governance, including respect for human rights and the rule of law. While national actors must lead domestically on security system reform, the international community is often called upon to provide assistance – particularly in the case of fragile and conflict-affected states.

Examples of Canadian activities in Security System Reform include:

  • The deployment of Canadian experts, both civilian and military, to the Office of the United States Security Coordinator in support of the Middle East Peace Process.
  • The participation of Canadian Forces personnel in the International Military Advisory Training Team to assist in the development of accountable, effective and sustainable armed forces in the Republic of Sierra Leone.
  • Security system reform-related projects funded by the Global Peace and Security Fund.
  • Participation in the development of international policies and operational guidance on Security System Reform in such forums as the United Nations and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Canada’s participation in these and other security system reform-related activities is guided by the Canadian Guidelines for Security System Reform. This document offers a set of common principles designed to encourage a unity of vision and ensure policy consistency across all Canadian departments and agencies contributing to Security System Reform efforts internationally.

An executive summary of the guidelines is available. The complete guidelines are available to the academic and policy communities and can be requested by contacting the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade’s Peace Operations and Fragile States Policy Division. In your request, please indicate your organization and the relevant projects for which you are responsible.