All for the Few and the Few for Themselves?

The purpose of this expert meeting was to explore how elite interests and coalitions shape the priorities, culture, structure and accountability of security and justice organizations in fragile environments. Its main assumption was that security and justice in fragile states are organized and delivered largely to protect elite interests. A key question then becomes what strategies and mechanisms can incentivize elites towards providing security and justice as more of a public good, rather than a private one.

Key questions for discussion

  • What are typical interests that elites seek to protect through security and justice organizations?
  • How do these interests influence the organization and provision of private and public security and justice in fragile environments? What are relevant mechanisms?
  • Under what conditions do elites decide / can elites be incentivized to organize and provide security and justice in a manner more akin to a public good?

It was not expected that the meeting would generate definitive answers to these issues. Instead, speakers and participants were invited to contribute their experiences and views in an exploratory but focused conversation. This has helped develop feasible strategies for change agents that seek to navigate the tension between challenging and cooperating with elite interests.


The day´s program featured several building blocks:

  • An introduction of how elite (coalitions) influence development in fragile settings by Suda Perera of the Development Leadership Program;
  • Inquiries into how elite interests influence the organization and provision of security and justice in the Horn of Africa and Lebanon by respectively Ann Fitz-Gerald of Cranfield University, and Imad Salamey of the Lebanese American University;
  • Perspectives on the practical challenges that security and justice interventions encounter when dealing with elite interests by Roelof Haveman of the Dutch Foreign Ministry, Joseph Bigirumwami and Alwin van den Boogaard of the Burundian-Dutch Security Sector Development Program.

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