Justice and Security Reform: Development Agencies and Informal Institutions in Sierra Leone, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Justice and Security Reform

Development Agencies and Informal Institutions in Sierra Leone, 1st Edition

By Lisa Denney


208 pages | 3 B/W Illus.

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Justice and Security Reform: Development Agencies and Informal Institutions in Sierra Leone undertakes a deep contextual analysis of the reform of the country’s security and justice sectors since the end of the civil war in 2002. Arguing that the political and bureaucratic nature of development agencies leads to a lack of engagement with informal institutions, this book examines the challenges of sustainably transforming security and justice in fragile states. Through the analysis of a post-conflict context often held up as an example of successful peacebuilding, Lisa Denney reveals how the politics of development agencies is an often forgotten constraint in security and justice reform and development efforts more broadly.

Particularly suited to upper-level undergraduates and postgraduate students, as well as practitioners, this book is relevant to those interested in security and justice reform and statebuilding, as well Sierra Leone’s post-conflict recovery.


Denney builds upon quite impressive ethnographic fieldwork across Sierra Leone; she undertakes extensive archival research and a wide range of interviews with key participants, informants, and policymakers in both the United Kingdom and Sierra Leone to demonstrate and support the central argument of the book. - Fodei Batty, Quinnipiac University for Research in Sierra Leone Studies (Vol 2, No 2, 2014)

"In Justice and Security Reform, however, Denney questions the extent to which fifteen years of security and rule-of-law assistance has tangibly improved citizens’ access to justice in Sierra Leone. In asking why success may have been limited, her analysis covers the institutional cultures of development actors, and the incompatibilities that emerge when they seek to engage with security and justice systems as they exist on the ground". -Cathy Haenlein,The RUSI Journal

"An excellent text, that adds much to the work done post conflict and will, alas, be required reading for those charged with resolving future confrontations."- Professor John Birchall, Journal of Sierra Leone Studies

Table of Contents

Introduction Chapter 1: The United Kingdom’s ‘African Albatross’: DFID Policy on Sierra Leone Chapter 2: ‘Thicker’ Understandings of Conflict, Security and Governance Chapter 3: A Thickening Blue Line: Challenges of Informal Policing for the Family Support Units Chapter 4: Courting Local Justice: DFID’s Justice Sector Development Programme Chapter 5: Security and Justice Reform: Political and Bureaucratic Constraints Conclusion: Living with or Overcoming Political and Bureaucratic Confines

About the Author

Lisa Denney is a researcher at the Overseas Development Institute working on issues of security, justice, development and fragile states. She completed her doctorate in International Politics at Aberystwyth University on security and justice reforms in Sierra Leone.

About the Series

Law, Development and Globalization

During the past two decades, a substantial transformation of law and legal institutions in developing and transition countries has taken place. Whether prompted by the policy prescriptions of the so-called Washington consensus, the wave of  democratization, the international human rights movement or the emergence of new social movements, no area of law has been left untouched. This massive transformation is attracting the attention of legal scholars, as well as scholars from other disciplines, such as politics, economics, sociology, anthropology and history. This diversity is valuable because it promotes cross-disciplinary dialogue and cooperation. It is also important because today the study of law cannot ignore the process of globalization, which is multifaceted and thus calls for inter-disciplinary skills and perspectives. Indeed, as globalization deepens, legal institutions at the national level are influenced and shaped by rules, practices and ideas drawn, imposed or borrowed from abroad.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / International
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / International Security
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / Treaties
POLITICAL SCIENCE / NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations)
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Colonialism & Post-Colonialism
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Developing Countries