‘Ownership’ in Contentious Reforms: The Issue of Responsibility in Tunisia’s Security Sector Reform

Santer, Kiri Olivia (24 May 2019). ‘Ownership’ in Contentious Reforms: The Issue of Responsibility in Tunisia’s Security Sector Reform (Unpublished). In: EASA Lawnet Workshop: Concepts, paradigms and slogans: From human rights to human dignity and sustainability. University of Helsinki. 24. May 2019.

This paper offers a framework to think through the notion of ownership by focusing on the EU’s Security Sector Reform (SSR) project in Tunisia and how this governance concept is perceived and mobilised by various actors involved in that particular policy field. In Tunisia, the role of the reputedly repressive security sector has come under the spotlight during a time of ongoing social and economic crisis. At the same time, old security elites struggle to maintain or renegotiate their positions of power after the revolution. These dynamics confront and interact with the EU’s pursuit of a stable partner with whom to collaborate on issues relating to migration control and the fight against terrorism. In my research, my interlocutors –experts and consultants in the EU SSR program, as well as the EU delegation’s project managers– mobilise the concept of ‘ownership’ continuously. I contend that ‘ownership’ offers a lens through which to examine how the interactions between various actors within the EU-SSR program play out, and what is enabled in terms of governance by the continued use of the term. Through the close study of donors, reformers and recipients’ negotiations over the term, I argue that ‘ownership’ is used to justify and legitimize interventions on the security sector which are politically contentious and helps the EU to navigate tricky questions of responsibility.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Social Anthropology

UniBE Contributor:

Santer, Kiri Olivia


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology




Anja Julienne Wohlgemuth

Date Deposited:

04 May 2020 08:49

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:37



Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback