Security sector reform, democratization and constitutional reform are intrinsically linked. The constitution-building process can therefore provide a critical forum for negotiations over changes in the relationship between civilian and security sector institutions.

This Policy Paper aims to support advisors and decision-makers in navigating these complex transitions. The Paper focuses on the relationship between security sector reform (SSR) and constitutional reform processes. While SSR and constitution-building are typically seen as separate issues, in practice they are deeply interconnected, and the success of a transition to constitutional democracy depends on the successful handling of security sector issues. Constitutional reform and SSR processes intersect in democratic transitions from military rule, civil war and authoritarian regimes.


Publication date
05 October 2020
Sumit Bisarya, Sujit Choudhry
Number of pages
The Centre for Constitutional Transitions
978-91-7671-330-3 (PDF)




Key recommendations

Executive summary

1. Introduction

2. Democratic constitutional change and the security sector

3. Contextual factors

4. Civilian control and oversight

5. Separation of functions and national security councils

6. Legal instrument

7. Sequencing

8. Amnesties and transitional justice

9. Economic interests

10. Conclusion


About the authors

About the organizations

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Security Sector Reform in Constitutional Transitions

International IDEA Policy Paper No. 23
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