Finding the Right Security Sector Strategy: The Goldilocks Problem in Post-Conflict States Open Access

Karim, Sabrina Monuza (2016)

Permanent URL:


For over a decade, researchers have been studying how to achieve peace after a civil war. One of the key insights in this literature is that creating functional and effective domestic institutions, such as a reformed security sector, is important for long-term stability. This dissertation builds from this foundation and investigates how institutional reforms in the security sector can achieve "quality" peace by restoring the social contract between citizens and the state. It does so by developing a novel way to categorize security sector reforms along two dimensions--capacity and constraint. It then develops the conditions under which reforms might lead to enhanced legitimacy, specifically suggesting that capacity-increasing and constraint-increasing reforms will be most effective in restoring the social contract, as these help overcome potential "effectiveness-restraint tradeoffs." It then develops the conditions under which states adopt reforms that increase their legitimacy. The dissertation explores these mechanisms using a field experiment in Liberia, which randomized police patrols to gauge civilians' perceptions of and support for security sector reforms, and through macro-level, original data collected on security sector reform in conflict and post-conflict countries from 1989-2012. The micro-level findings show that reforms that professionalize the police and that increase women's representation in the police force, to varying degrees, help enhance perceptions of effectiveness and restraint. The macro-level results show that peacekeeping missions help states adopt capacity and constraint-increasing reforms. The overall results imply that security sector reforms can be a valuable state building tool to help conflict-ridden countries restore legitimacy and achieve "quality peace."

Table of Contents

1 Quality Peace, The Social Contract, and Security Sector Reform. 1

2 Conceptualizing Security Sector Reform. 35

3 Micro-Level Analysis: Professionalization of the Security Forces. 90

4 Micro-Level Analysis: Female Ratio Balancing Reforms. 174

5 Macro-Level Analysis: Security Sector Reform in Conflict and Post Conflict Settings. 237

6 Conclusion. 291

About this Dissertation

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
  • English
Research Field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files