International organizations and major aid donors have increasingly become more involved in the efforts to reform the security and justice institutions in developing countries over the past 20 years. This SSR Issue Paper focuses on the size of external support for SSR activities, showing that agencies often discuss the effectiveness of SSR programming without the benefit of a comprehensive system for tracking SSR assistance. It examines the information that is often used to demonstrate how international support for SSR has increased — and discusses why such data is both incomplete and faulty given the context of how it is collected.

The paper suggests that using data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) alone does not capture a true picture of the patterns of overall SSR expenditure — it needs to be supplemented with data that includes contributions to projects that are not deemed “developmental” by the OECD. Although not all SSR assistance should be considered development assistance, including all SSR contributions is important in order to obtain an accurate representation of the donations made to SSR programs, enabling the evaluation of the policy effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of these reform efforts across countries.  

Authored by prominent practitioners in the field, policy makers, academics and informed observers, the SSR Issue Papers series combines analysis of current problems and challenges, and examines thematic and geographic topics relating to the most pressing SSR issues.