National Security

National security institutions are there to guide the activities of the police, justice, defence and intelligence sectors. The aim is to ensure these departments operate coherently, comply with professional standards and reflect citizens’ priorities.

National security institutions sit above and cut across single-sector organisations such as the police, justice, defence and intelligence sectors. Their purpose is to define a country’s strategic security priorities, to determine how state institutions should be structured and resourced to deliver those priorities, and to coordinate and evaluate the performance of those institutions. A state’s national security architecture includes national security councils and sub-national equivalents, technical secretariats, and the strategies and policies they develop. This architecture is vital for ensuring security priorities accurately reflect citizens’ needs, not institutional interests. It is also important for ensuring limited resources are allocated across agencies effectively, and those agencies cooperate professionally.

Yet in developing countries national security institutions often have fewer resources, technical capacity, legal backing and historical legitimacy than the agencies they oversee. Competition between agencies for authority and resources can hinder the development of a cross-sector security strategy and coordination mechanisms, and is only overcome through sustained commitment from a capable and engaged president or prime minister’s office.

National security councils are often forced to make decisions without access to timely data, professional analysis, considered policy options, and accurate impact evaluations. The ability of technical secretariats to provide these services is frequently undermined by their own weak technical capacity, poor links with provincial and local bodies, and reluctance of agencies to share information and intelligence.

In response to these challenges Adam Smith International offers expertise in:

  • Developing institutional architecture: institutional mandates, legal frameworks, legislative oversight, lines of reporting and coordination mechanisms.
  • Formulating strategy: cross-sector drafting processes, technical analysis, setting objectives, design of delivery programmes, impact reviews and revisions to strategy.
  • Building technical capacity: threat monitoring, information capture and verification, technical analysis, inter-agency intelligence exchange, reporting.
  • Improving responsiveness to public priorities: inclusive policy drafting, consultations with parliament and civil society, public perception surveys.