The rule of law and security sector reform

Training of Police forces in Afghanistan

Training of Police forces in Afghanistan


Promoting the rule of law is a key factor in securing peace and development worldwide. An effective police force which respects the rule of law and operates to professional standards serves to protect citizens and so prevent conflicts.

Where mechanisms for the peaceful settlement of conflicts of interest are accepted, they can prevent conflicts from turning violent. Peace and stability can only be sustainably re-established after violent conflicts through inclusive political processes and properly functioning rule of law structures.

Advancing the rule of law is a key focus of the Federal Foreign Office’s project funding. Measures supported include basic and further training for judges and lawyers, advisory services for the police and building and consolidating an independent legal system. Another important element is the development of civil society, since a vital and functioning state governed by the rule of law can only be established and flourish in a society where the citizens are engaged and vigilant.

The German Government also supports efforts to promote the rule of law around the world as part of its multilateral activities. To this end it contributes financial resources and personnel to rule of law missions under the European Security and Defence Policy. Rule of law promotion is also central to the activities of the United Nations (UN). The implementation of the Millennium Declaration, including strengthening the rule of law worldwide, remains a key focus for the German Government.

Supporting security sector reform

Security sector reform (SSR) seeks to improve security for civilian populations and to enhance people's well-being. It involves (re‑)building effective and responsible security institutions to achieve these aims. Such agencies should be firmly embedded in democratic political institutions viewed by the people as legitimate. SSR processes are generally owned by the partner countries themselves, and based on internationally recognised human rights principles and rule-of-law principles.

In cooperation with other key ministries, the Federal Foreign Office supports partner countries' efforts to reform their security sectors, providing assistance through both bilateral and multilateral channels. Examples include introducing democratic control of security forces and support for reconciliation processes in societies traumatised by violence and civil war. Police reform is an integral part of SSR.

Police development as an element in crisis prevention

A democratically controlled and effective police force, which respects the rule of law and operates to professional standards, serves to protect citizens. It helps prevent conflicts. The reform and development of properly functioning police structures is therefore a fundamental part of crisis prevention. The German Government’s commitment to police development is channelled primarily through international peace and police missions, as well as bilateral training and equipment aid. The objective is to strengthen police structures, particularly in post-conflict states.

Germany’s expertise in police matters and its engagement worldwide make it an important player in the field of international police-force development. The same is true for various specialist fields. For instance, federal police officers support their colleagues in third states with respect to border management and document protection, while the Federal Criminal Police Office contributes by, for example, training officers in the field of forensics and evidence gathering in East Africa.

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