Hague Journal on the Rule of Law


Justice Reform, Security Sector Reform and Local Ownership

Willem Oosterveld* and Renaud Galand**


The purpose of this article is to look more deeply at why the principle of local ownership has so often been disregarded in justice reform and security sector reform (SSR). In doing so, it identifies various dilemmas that account for this lack of regard, including issues relating to local vs. international norms; donor vs. local interests and representational issues at the national and local level. Subsequently, it will examine how local ownership dilemmas impact on programming including during the assessment, implementation and monitoring and evaluation stages and then consider how local ownership can be strengthened particularly in fragile states.


  • justice sector reform;
  • security sector reform;
  • local ownership;
  • rule of law;
  • local representation;
  • fragile states;
  • political will;
  • donor coordination;
  • people-centred approach


* Project Officer, International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT), Geneva, Switzerland. w.oosterveld@dcaf.ch.

** Senior Justice Advisor, International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT), Geneva, Switzerland. r.galand@dcaf.ch.