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Security sector reform in the Western Balkans

32 pages, pdf
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Security sector reform in the Western Balkans


Volume: 32 pages, pdf


The states of the Western Balkans region1 differ from other transitional democracies in Central Europe in important ways which affect the conditions and challenges for security sector reform (SSR).2 In their transition from state socialism and authoritarian rule, the Western Balkan societies also bear the lingering material and psychological effects of recent armed conflict and ethnic cleansing. Their security sectors tend to be fragmented, underdeveloped (although some sectors, typically the armed forces, are over-developed for peacetime conditions), over-politicized and structured along ethnic or religious lines. Non-state armed formations, including paramilitary organizations formed along party or ethnic lines, private military companies, criminal groups and guerrilla movements may exist alongside state security structures weakened by corruption. The problems of refugee return, resettlement and reintegration of displaced persons, and return of property remain unresolved in key areas. Individuals and communities continue to be scarred by the psychological traumas inflicted by war and extreme nationalism. Nationalistic (ethnic and religious) divisions persist, and the resurgence of nationalist parties in recent elections throughout the region—followed by the open violence in Kosovo in March 2004—provides daunting evidence of the fragility of both democracy and peace in these societies.