Benedetta Berti, Gonca Noyan, Hristiana Grozdanova and Jelena Petrovic: The Balkan Route ... Security Sector Reform in Libya

Benedetta Berti, Gonca Noyan, Hristiana Grozdanova, and Jelena Petrovic are members of the Atlantic Council’s Young Atlanticist NATO Working Group.

One year after the beginning of the Arab Spring, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is undergoing profound transformation, leaving the international community saddled with a period of rapid transition similar to the one that occurred in Europe in the nineties.
One of the biggest challenges ahead for all these countries in transition will certainly be how to implement successful security sector reform (SSR). In turn, this is a particularly difficult task in environments that are both post-authoritarian and post-conflict. Therefore, it is important for international actors involved in these processes to draw lessons from similar experiences.
The challenge most closely matching the complexities of the MENA region is what took place in the western Balkans (WB), i.e. countries occupying the territory of former communist Yugoslavia that was violently dissolved in the nineties. All western Balkan countries are post-authoritarian states that have experienced some degree of internal violence. Each of them has also witnessed heavy international involvement, with NATO engagement ranging from military interventions to peacekeeping operations and extensive support given to the transitional process, particularly in the area of SSR.
Lessons from the Western Balkans cannot be applied wholesale to the MENA countries since, despite some similarities, these two regions differ significantly in their geostrategic, political and cultural features. However, they can still be used as a guideline to help those international organizations that will assist the local authorities in designing SSR for their regions.  But the main lessons of SSR from the western Balkans might well be applied to the MENA country where the most extensive and pervasive security sector reforms are being implemented: post-Gaddafi Libya...

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