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Approximately 12.4% of the global GDP was the estimated cost of conflict and violence in 2017, while the development aid supplied by OECD countries was only 1.8% of that amount (OECD 2018; Institute for Economics and Peace 2018a: 4). Under its global strategy and in conjunction with other global governance actors such as the UN, 95% of the EU development aid for conflict, peace and security was allocated to civilian peacebuilding, conflict prevention and resolution, and security sector management and reform (European Parliament 2018: 6). Contrasting these efforts, the economic impact of violence in insecure and transitional countries affected by multiple conflicts and complex sources of violence increased by 20% between 2007 and 2017 (Institute for Economics and Peace 2018a: 21); for example, Pakistan was in the top five of the worst affected countries by terrorism and conflict in the world during the same period (Institute for Economics and Peace 2018b). The question why these imbalances still persist requires closer scholarly inquiry. Putting together the pieces of this puzzle, the problem that the book addresses is that of the impact of reforms promoted by global actors, such as the EU, UN or the United States, on processes of democratic institutional change in insecure and transitional states. It does so by investigating estimated changes in civil-military relations during periods of transition and how civil society organisations (CSOs) that many international organisations (IOs) and actors support as avenues of democratisation can contribute to a sustainable improvement of democratic security governance.

Existing donor approaches and strategies attempting to democratise security governance via local actors are largely based on understandings of multi-agency peace and security governance underpinned by classical theories of civil-military relations and civilian oversight (Huntington 1957; Pion-Berlin 1992). While much of the literature on civil-military relations and the roles of non-state actors has focused on the conditions and determinants of democratic civilian control in consolidated democracies, more research is needed to adequately understand the conditions under which democratic civil-military relations can occur in insecure, fragile or otherwise transitional states in which democratic institutions are not fully established and democratic and non-democratic types of actors co-exist - generically referred to as ‘hybrid orders’ throughout this book. To address this crucial research gap, the book studies instances of civil-military interactions in a post-military, hybrid context.

I argue that theories of civil-military relations and integrated, multi-agency security do not provide sufficient propositions to allow for an elaborated understanding of democratic oversight in insecure states in transition. Policy approaches and strategies of international organisations and actors, including those of the EU or the United States, to democratise security governance using peace and security philosophies based on traditional theoretical understandings of democratic oversight of civil-military relations are not only a mismatch with the reality on the ground, but attempts to pursue this type of oversight as a goal are likely to be inefficient or even counterproductive. As 1 emphasise in the middle-range theory proposed in this book and discussed in detail in Chapter 9, in order to work and effectively democratise insecure and hybrid environments, international security governance strategies need to dedicate special attention to some crucial dimensions: (1) processes of checking power and a system of checks and balances, given that powerful actors can find innovative ways to perpetuate their power while co-existing with other actors in a plural environment, and (2) avoiding the antagonistic effects for democratic security processes by the interactions or actions of the actors involved. In hybrid or fragile societies, formal processes of democratic civilian oversight are difficult to expect. Especially countries that experienced military coups d'etat and have been exposed to multiple insecurities and sources of threat require a strong defence agency. The argument developed in this book is that IOs’ or actors’ attempts to democratise security governance in hybrid orders, inter alia, via local actors such as CSOs or think tanks could be associated with a transition of the military institution. Exposure to democratic norms diffusing from international actors and non-state organisations is expected to stimulate and foster processes of change in the political culture of the society, which becomes less inclined to accept a formal role in government of the military or non-democratic forces. In response to changes, but also to avail of important utility gains from international actors, the military is found to undergo processes of adaptation and adopt new strategies to remain relevant. Thus, while civilian actors do not formally exert oversight, they can yield some influence on the military to change and adapt.

Highlighting key strategies and determinants of civil-military interactions and the role of internationally funded organisations in establishing democratic oversight in hybrid orders (i.e. fragile and insecure states in transition), this book proposes a middle-range theory of civil-military adaptation and military change. The book applies a case study design and a methodology based on primary data - 40 survey responses and 53 semi-structured interviews - conducted by the author with senior representatives of the military, civil society, government, media and academia. Ethical approval was obtained prior to the field research from the Dublin City University Ethics Committee. The research methodology employs a triangulation approach encompassing process tracing and content analysis, as well as the use of computer software NVivo and Stata. Based on the results, the book proposes some key elements for a middle-range theory of civil-military adaptation in insecure environments in transition. The findings are relevant for IOs and actors such as the EU, UN or the United States, and inform their foreign policy strategies about integrated peace and security mechanisms promoting security sector transformation and societal resilience in hybrid orders.

Why this book matters

This book matters for four reasons. First, the insights presented increase our understanding of the impact of 10 reforms on civil-military relations and democratic security governance. The book proposes a conceptual framework of analysis linking global governance with theories of civil-military relations and military change, which has not been done before. I argue that militaries in hybrid orders do also undergo processes of change and this book will explore whether such change is occurring, drawing on expert perceptions. Based on the empirical findings, the book seeks to develop a theory which can explain change and strategic adaptation in hybrid orders.

In the light of integrated, multi-agency security and counterterrorism approaches, it is important to understand the relationship between the state, market and society in providing democratic security. Integrated approaches to security such as security sector reform (SSR) or comprehensive security governance models “lack a consistent conceptualization” (Bruneau and Matei 2008: 914; see also Bruneau 2015) in relation to crucial notions such as legitimacy, accountability, sovereignty and leadership. Existing studies on interactions between internationally funded local actors and military actors focused exclusively on humanitarian action in the framework of civil-military cooperation (CIMIC), civil-military interaction (CMI) and civil-military coordination (CMCoord) approaches implemented by IOs in zones of war or complex security crises. This book investigates interactions between civilians and the military in hybrid orders. To this end, using primary data, the book examines interactions occurring at both ‘operational’ level (Greenwood and Balachandran 2014: 17) (Track 2 and Track 3) and higher political level (Track 1.5). The book explores the strategic choices of local actors such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs)1 to engage in security-related work (or not) and, when they do, it explores their perceptions of how the military has reacted. Do different strategies result in different institutional responses? How do non-state actors and others perceive it as having had any impact of their work on the democratisation of security governance, and in particular, do they perceive it has had any impact on civil-military relations in general? In addition, the book identifies the factors that could influence NGO-military relations and helps to explain which determinants can foster relations and which determinants can hinder them. While many IOs (EU, UN, NATO and OSCE) and actors (the United States2) fund and implement projects in fragile states with limited institutional capacity and do this by utilising integrated security approaches, these yield for a more critical theoretical assessment. Most of these approaches advocate a notion of civilian control based on a narrow institutionalist approach, which is less likely to be present in fragile, insecure countries and can be conceptually incompatible with multi-agency approaches of security advocating strategic interdependence. This book seeks to elaborate key concepts for better understanding civil-military relations in post-modern peacebuilding and security governance approaches. The findings will inform EU, UN and US grand strategies about how to bring instances of SSR and civilian control and inclusive and accountable governance in a coherent relationship.

First, the book is beneficial to address some crucial shortcomings in global governance approaches: existing IOs’ and foreign actors’ approaches and strategies attempting to democratise security governance via local actors are largely based on understandings of peace and security underpinned by classical theories of civil-military relations and civilian oversight (Huntington 1957; Pion-Berlin 1992), which largely trace their conclusions from evidence in established democracies. Much of the existing literature on civil-military relations and the roles of non-state actors has focused on the conditions and determinants of democratic civilian control in consolidated democracies; hence, more research is needed to adequately understand the conditions under which democratic civil-military relations can occur in hybrid orders. To address this crucial research gap, this book studies instances of civil-military interactions in contested hybrid orders exposed to a complex constellation of security threats, using interviews and surveys conducted in four sample regions in Pakistan. By applying a mixed-method approach and data triangulation, and presenting numerous examples from other hybrid orders, the book sets a solid base for conceptualising the role of international reforms in achieving democratic oversight and cooperative civil-military relations in insecure orders of limited statehood exposed to complex insecurities and risks. Applying a systematised and highly robust research methodology, the book proposes some key elements for a theory of civil-military adaptation generalisable to the population of hybrid orders - i.e. fragile and insecure states in transition.

Second, the findings make a contribution to theories of civil-military relations and civilian control. Currently, “much of the existing debate uses a narrowly defined institutionalist approach, in the sense that it focuses on the formal political and legal mechanisms through which the civilian sector controls the military” (Cottey et al. 2002: 40). However, fragile and developing countries are likely to lack highly institutionalised forms of governance and rule of law. While existing civil-military theories make predictions about the impact of structural factors on civil-military relations, there is currently no coherent theory explaining the role of ‘agency’ in form of “strategic interactions between civilian and military actors” (Croissant et al. 2013: 43; see also Croissant and Kuehn 2011: 213) in countries in transition. Particularly because of the “interplay between agency and the environment” (Croissant et al. 2013: 43), it is important to understand what conditions facilitate and what conditions hinder democratic control of armed forces in asymmetric environments. By exploring internal and external intervening factors in the relationship between military and civilians, the book seeks to develop a middle-range theory that is able to better explain the behaviour of state institutions and policy development in the context of perceived internal and external threats and identify the conditions for effective civil-military collaboration. The need for “a clearer sense of what factors encourage or inhibit smooth civil-military coordination” (Staniland 2008: 362) or a theory of civilian control that addresses “the conditions under which delegation happens and identify hypotheses about factors that shape the delegation in observable ways” (Feaver 1996: 169) is clearly underlined in the literature. Existing empirical evidence (Croissant et al. 2013) shows that factors conceptualised by previous theories, such as professionalisation of armed forces (Huntington 1957, 1962), fail to provide sufficient explanation for the mechanisms of democratic control. By “transcending] the concept of professionalization” (Feaver 1996: 169), a new middle-range theory, gener- alisable to the population of insecure, hybrid orders, can facilitate a better understanding of the interactions between perceived threats and domestic politics (Staniland 2008: 362). The book draws on military and civilian perceptions of engagement, continuity or change. If a pattern of behaviour and a pattern of perceptions of behaviour on civil-military interactions can be identified and systematised, this can provide a new source of empirical information by which to judge a possible change in the military posture. This, in turn, can allow us to draw some tentative conclusions as to whether nonstate actors perceive that their engagement with the military has tended to strengthen or weaken democratic influence or the military. Ultimately, in the absence of democratic control, do such interactions build gradual restraints on the freedom of action enjoyed by the military in Pakistan and other hybrid orders, or at least raise the perceived costs of any attempt to further strengthen military power over civilian competencies?

Third, this book fills a critical gap in the field of military change. The book aims at complementing the literature on military institutional change, democratic innovation and transformation by exploring the process of transformation in hybrid orders. “[MJilitary transformation has become one of the permanent activities of the most developed countries since the end of the Cold War” (Prezelj et al. 2016), with much of the literature in this domain exploring predominantly units from Western or developed countries (Colom Piella 2016; Coticchia 2016; Edmunds et al 2016; Fevolden and Tvetbraten 2016; Norheim-Martinsen 2016). Many studies analyse the process of military transformation from the perspective of military capabilities and technological modernisation (Knox and Murray 2001; Jasper 2009; Cohen 2010; Farrell et al 2010), but there is a research gap related to the processes of change pertaining to military doctrine, strategy and culture and how (and if) armed forces interaction with civil society is an opportunity to gain some insights into the relatively closed world of military doctrine in partly democratic societies and hybrid orders. 1 argue that militaries in countries with traditional societies do also undergo processes of change and this book explores whether the military and civilians interviewed perceive that such change is occurring. Based on the empirical findings, the book seeks to develop a conceptual framework to study change and strategic adaptation in hybrid orders.

Fourth, the book seeks to make an empirical contribution. The findings are informed by original data and a data triangulation methodology, being associated with increased validity. In hybrid orders imperilled by multidimensional security threats, the maximisation of knowledge and harness of data can help international global governance actors to make better evaluations and assessments. The study of integrated security and democratic change in insecure, hybrid orders requires a complex research design, able to capture the multitude of relationships, interactions and transfers of knowledge, agency and power. 1 propose a methodology encompassing content analysis and process tracing for studying perceptions related to military change and hybrid peace and security. Research on civil-military relations based on primary data is much needed. Less than 15% of the literature in Armed Forces and Society is relying on interviews, targeted or mass surveys and questionnaires, with 73% tracing conclusions from secondary sources (Olmeda 2015: 71). Explaining military doctrine and change in hybrid orders might be challenging. It is almost impossible to know what the military is thinking; thus, a content analysis of key strategic documents would most likely not be an accurate measure of the variables of interest. The estimation of perceptions via interviews and survey responses in sample regions can have a methodological value added in studying changes in civil-military relations in fragile, insecure states. The book provides a comprehensive dataset comprising observations from more than 90 data points (53 interviews and 40 survey answers) related to civil-military relations. This dataset will be particularly valuable for future empirical research, considering the sparse availability of data from middle- and micro-level from countries facing conflicts, insecurity and violence.

Book structure

The book is organised as follows: the next two chapters (Chapters 2 and 3) elucidate how normative power, global security governance and civil- military relations are linked, focusing in particular on conceptual issues related to sovereignty, legitimacy, power, security and democracy but also on the tensions between different sites of agency and ‘knowledge production’ (Richmond 2017). The fourth chapter discusses the research gap addressed and the contribution of this book, dedicating specific attention to mechanisms of democratic control during periods of transition and the role that local actors - funded by IOs or foreign actors such as the EU, UN, OSCE or the United States - could play. The fifth chapter presents some crucial methodological considerations explaining how the conclusions of this book are reached. The sixth, seventh and eighth chapters present the findings of the empirical analysis and discuss processes of military change, the impact of local actors on democratisation processes and security governance-related dynamics, as well as the major factors influencing civil-military interactions. The last chapter summarises the results and outlines the elements of a theory of civil-military adaptation, while also highlighting the implications of the findings for policy and further research. In the following, I discuss the structure of each chapter in detail.

Chapters 2 and 3 define the key concepts that inform the analysis and findings of this book. The analytical framework is at the intersection of approaches of global security governance - which seek to link domestic and liberal (international) orders (Mac Ginty 2011; Schroeder et al. 2014; Richmond 2016) and on which international actors’ (the EU, United States, UN, OSCE, NATO) strategies are based - and theories of civil-military relations and military change. These two conceptual clusters are beneficial for studying processes of change and adaptation of security and defence institutions in hybrid orders because they are underpinned by logics of pluralism, everyday life, change and friction, which are predominant in transitional environments. These chapters elaborate on the different aspects of power, legitimacy, sovereignty and tensions between various normative orders.

Chapter 4 discusses the research gap that this book addresses and the contribution that the book makes. Civilian oversight and democratic security governance constitute key elements for building resilience and empowering societies in fragile states, a goal that is normatively envisioned by the EU global strategy for security and foreign policy. The book examines democratic oversight and the democratisation of security governance, as well as the role of local actors funded by IOs such as the EU/European countries or the United States. Local actors, such as NGOs and think tanks, become relevant given that they are, to a significant extent, responsible for designing and implementing democracy promotion activities of normative powers such as the European Union or the United States. The major research gap addressed in this book is the lack of a coherent set of theoretical propositions in relation to the link between effective mechanisms to strengthen democratic civilian control in hybrid orders located in difficult security and geopolitical environments, on one side, and the role of local actors, funded by IOs, in democratisation processes, on the other side. The major contribution of the book consists of developing and proposing some key elements of a middle-range theory of civil-military adaptation and global governance in hybrid contexts.

Chapter 5 presents the methodological considerations and the analytical approach employed and explains how the conclusions of this book are reached. The findings of this book are informed by primary empirical evidence in form of key informants’ perceptions, i.e. survey responses and semi-structured interviews. These were conducted by the author with senior representatives of NGOs, media, academia, military (mainly retired) and government on the state of civil-military relations and the role of (internationally funded) non-governmental actors. Process tracing and content analysis are applied as research methods. The mixed methodological approach (two different types of data and two analysis methods) was chosen to deal with the problem of information volatility in fragile environments. The chapter also describes how the data were coded using N Vivo and justifies the case selection.

Chapters 6-8 present and critically discuss the results of this book. Chapter 6 estimates the level of perceived military change based on the respondents’ opinions, which is a first step in assessing the impact of international actors and reforms in hybrid orders. The results show that while there is some visible change in military’s strategic preferences for peace and security and overall improvement in civil-military relations, the processes of military transformation are rather asymmetric and incomplete, and the military continues to maintain the upper hand in politics. Weak government capacity generates a power vacuum that enables the armed forces to interfere and perpetuate asymmetric power relations. Chapter 7 discusses whether and how local actors supported by IOs and donor governments can contribute to the democratisation of security governance and security institutions, including the military, in an insecure and fragile context. Four different functions of local actors in stimulating democratic reforms of security and defence institutions and governance are evaluated: input legitimacy, output legitimacy, diagonal accountability and civilian oversight, and ‘elite pacting’, i.e. facilitating the process of transfer of power from old to new nomenclatures (see Cawthra and Luckham 2003: 309). The results suggest that local actors have limited capacity and possibility to increase direct diagonal accountability and civilian oversight, output legitimacy or elite pacting. Nonetheless, they can be impactful in stimulating citizens’ development and participation, i.e. input legitimacy and indirect diagonal accountability, and awareness building. Awareness building can overall improve the political culture of both citizens and institutions. Chapter 8 assesses the major determinants that can influence the nature and circumstances of civil-military relations and NGO-military relations in particular. It is found that the typologies of strategy used by non-state actors can influence civil-military cooperative outcomes. Organisations having clear strategies in place to co-opt the military in their activities are more likely to interact with the military and engage in synergies or even partnerships. The vision and strategy with regard to institutional change, i.e. how an organisation attempts to democratise and change the political culture and security institutions, was also found to be a determinant of civil-military relations. The military can be more reluctant and even conflictual towards organisations adopting more radical approaches of change and transformation. The findings suggest that democratic security change might be more likely to occur via actors that do not have explicit objectives to change things, but work on social and political development and empowerment instead. Foreign funding can be both an impediment and a facilitator of NGO-military cooperation. Weak institutional and implementation capacity, political parties and media were found to be further significant determinants in processes of change of security institutions and governance.

Chapter 9 concludes this book by discussing the substantive implications of the findings and proposing some key elements for a middle-range theory of civil-military adaptation and global governance in hybrid orders. As this concluding chapter highlights, transparency and mechanisms of ‘checking power’ - facilitated, inter alia, through incentives and support from IOs - but also effective local actors’ contributions to ‘building power’ and will for democratic change constitute some key dimensions of a middle-range theory of civil-military relations and global security governance in hybrid orders.


  • 1 Throughout this book, local actors, non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations, civil society actors and non-state actors are used intermittently. They refer to actors formally registered as NGOs.
  • 2 China aiso implements substantial projects in fragile or transitional states; however, these are to a lesser extent underpinned by integrated security approaches, and are instead based on financial loans.


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