Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces

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The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces
DCAF Logo English.jpg
DCAF HQ outside.jpg
DCAF HQ entrance at Petal 5, Maison de la Paix, Geneva.
Founded October 2000
Type of Organisation International Foundation
Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland
Regional Offices Beirut, Brussels, Ljubljana, Ramallah, Tunis
Member States 63
Permanent Observers 4 governments and 2 international organisations
Director Amb. Thomas Guerber
Staff 170+
Web Address
Budget 29+ million CHF

The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) is an international foundation whose primary fields of activity include Security Sector Reform (SSR) and Security Sector Governance (SSG). DCAF was founded in 2000 under Swiss law[1] and on the initiative of the Swiss government.[2] Its stated aim is to "support effective, efficient, and democratically governed security sectors, which are accountable to the state and its citizens".[3]

The organisation's thematic fields include:[4]

The Centre's core services include:[5]

  • Strategic advice to governments and international organizations on the development of SSR and SSG policies
  • Practical field support and technical assistance in the implementation of SSR and SSG policies and programmes
  • Assessment, design, monitoring, and evaluation of SSR projects
  • Building the capacity of institutional partners to better support security and justice reform
  • Knowledge services and development of knowledge products and tools for SSR practitioners

DCAF collaborates with governments, international organisations, regional organisations, and expert networks to perform its work. The Centre operates globally with particular emphasis on Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and Southeast Asia.[6] DCAF’s outreach projects also cover the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Latin America.[7][8]

DCAF is one of the organizations located at the Maison de la paix – a complex which was opened in January 2015 in the international organisation quarter of Geneva and which houses, in addition to DCAF, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining, and the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. DCAF moved into the Maison de la Paix in January 2015, grouping all Geneva-based staff under one roof in close proximity to International Geneva.[9]



DCAF is organized as a think-and-action tank and its work is carried out by the following units:[10]

  • Policy & Research Department
    • Policy & Research Division
    • Gender & Security Division
    • Public-Private Partnerships Division
  • Operations Department
    • Southeast Europe Division (which hosts the Secretariat of the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe)
    • Middle East and North Africa Division (which hosts the DCAF Trust Fund for Security Sector Development Assistance in North Africa)
    • Sub-Saharan Africa Division
    • Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia Division
    • Asia-Pacific Division
    • Latin America & Caribbean Division
  • International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT)
  • Resources Department

Parameters and Foundation Council[edit]

DCAF's budget in 2014 was 35.26 million Swiss francs, of which the government of Switzerland financed 55.3 per cent and other member states and international organisations 44.7 per cent.[11]

As of 2016, DCAF employs over 170 staff from 40 countries. DCAF's Foundation Council comprises 63 governments as well as four governments and two international organisations that hold observer status. DCAF's headquarters are located in Geneva, Switzerland, and it maintains permanent regional and country offices in Beirut, Brussels, Ljubljana, Ramallah, Tripoli, and Tunis.[5]

The member states and permanent observers are, in alphabetical order:[5]

Member States

Permanent Observers

DCAF's Activities[edit]

Engagements with International Organisations[edit]

With the United Nations (UN), DCAF:[12]

With the European Union (EU), DCAF:[17]

  • DCAF’s engagement with the EU in 2014 focused around four key areas: security sector reform (SSR) capacity building for EU staff members; helping to shape EU engagement in the field; working with

the EU to improve the delivery of security and justice services on the ground; and input to EU policy development and strategic thinking. DCAF works with several EU bodies and field missions, including the European Commission (EC); European Security and Defence College (ESDC), European Police College (CEPOL), EU External Action Service (EEAS), Civilian Planning and Command Capability (CPCC), Crisis Management and Planning Directorate (CMPD), the Conflict Prevention, Peacebuilding and Mediation Division, the EU Delegation Kinshasa, EUCAP Sahel Mali, the EU Border Assistance Mission for Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM), FRONTEX, the European Commission (Directorate-General (DG) Migration and Home Affairs (HOME), including the EU antitrafficking coordinator, DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement (NEAR), DG Development and Cooperation, the General Secretariat of the Council, EUROPOL, and lastly EUROJUST

With the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), DCAF:[18]

  • Provides advisory support, training, and policy research mandates for various OSCE bodies and field missions, including the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the OSCE Secretariat’s Transnational Threats Department (TNT), the OSCE’s Borders Team, and the OSCE Border Management Staff College (BMSC).
  • Serves the Swiss government as a strategic partner in advance of Switzerland's Chairmanship-in-Office of the OSCE in 2014 as well as during its tenure as a member of the OSCE Troika, along with Ireland (2012), Ukraine (2013), and Serbia (2015).[19]

With The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), DCAF:[20]

With the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), DCAF:[21]

  • Supported the drafting of the Code of Conduct for Armed Forces and Security Services of ECOWAS.
  • Collaborated with the ECOWAS Parliament in the development of "Parliamentary Oversight of the Security Sector: ECOWAS Parliament-DCAF Guide for West African Parliamentarians".
  • Continued the development of a DCAF–ECOWAS Toolkit for Security Sector Reform and Governance in West Africa.

Regional Initiatives[edit]

In Southeast Europe, DCAF is active in:

  •  Albania,
  •  Bosnia and Herzegovina,
  •  Bulgaria,
  •  Croatia,
  •  Macedonia,
  •  Moldova,
  •  Montenegro,
  •  Romania,
  •  Serbia (including  Kosovo), and
  •  Slovenia

In these countries DCAF:[22]

  • Operates regional and bilateral programmes focusing on border police cooperation, police integrity building, modernising power ministries, strengthening intelligence oversight, gender mainstreaming, parliamentary assistance, and civil society empowerment.
  • Hosts the permanent secretariat of the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe (PCC) at the DCAF regional office in Ljubljana.
  • Supports the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in the implementation of the Swiss Regional Police Cooperation Programme in the Western Balkans (SPCP 2012-16). DCAF also serves as a member of the Swiss Intermediate Body responsible for the management of migration-focused projects in Romania and Bulgaria.

In Western Europe, the following EU countries, as well as   Switzerland and  Norway, are members of DCAF:

  •  Austria,
  •  Belgium,
  •  Bulgaria,
  •  Croatia,
  •  Cyprus,
  •  Czech Republic,
  •  Denmark,
  •  Estonia,
  •  Finland,
  •  France,
  •  Germany,
  •  Greece,
  •  Hungary,
  •  Ireland,
  •  Italy,
  •  Latvia,
  •  Lithuania,
  •  Luxembourg,
  •  Malta,
  •  the Netherlands,
  •  Poland,
  •  Portugal,
  •  Romania,
  •  Slovakia,
  •  Slovenia,
  •  Spain,
  •  Sweden, and
  •  the United Kingdom.

In affiliation with these countries DCAF:

In the Newly Independent States region, DCAF is active in:

  •  Armenia,
  •  Azerbaijan,
  •  Georgia,
  •  Kyrgyzstan,
  •  Moldova,
  •  Mongolia,
  •  Tajikistan, and
  •  Ukraine

As in previous years, most of DCAF’s activities in the New Independent States region beyond the frameworks of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) were conducted on a bilateral basis. The majority of these projects were implemented in Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Ukraine. In these countries DCAF:[23]

  • Cooperates with national parliaments, governments, security sector institutions, and civil society organisations on democratic security governance programming.
  • Coordinates regional programming on democratic security governance issues.
  • Support the role of ombuds institutions at national and institutional levels.
  • Coordinates with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) on programming opportunities.
  • Liaises with the United Nations Development Programme—European Union Border Management Programme in Central Asia (BOMCA 8), which assists the five Central Asian states in the creation of modern and efficient border security systems.
  • Worked with the European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM) to implement a comprehensive advanced distance learning course on ‘Modern Border Control Practices and Related EU Standards’ for border police station commanders and mid-level border security managers.

In the Middle East and North Africa, DCAF is active in:

In these countries and/or the occupied Palestinian territory DCAF[25] operates regional and bilateral programmes focusing on strengthening oversight and accountability of security sector actors, improving transparency and communication between power ministries and the population, the training and capacity building of civil servants, gender mainstreaming, civil society empowerment, and the training of journalists in the coverage of security issues and the monitoring of security forces’ activities.

In North Africa, DCAF maintains the Trust Fund for Security Sector Development Assistance in North Africa, which supports security sector reform processes specifically in the following countries:


In the first weeks following the Tunisian Revolution, the DCAF offered its expertise to the transitional government. Since February 2011, DCAF has been reinforcing its cooperation with the government through concluding agreements and developing assistance programmes with several ministries (including those of Interior, Justice and Defence). In July 2011, Tunisia joined the DCAF Foundation Council and became its 60th member state. In order to facilitate the implementation of its cooperation programme, DCAF opened an office in Tunis in October 2011. This office has been part of the Trust Fund programme since June 2012.

The objective of the TFNA’s programme in Tunisia is to assist the authorities in establishing good governance of armed forces, police and security forces which:

  • Operate under clear policy and legal frameworks;
  • Deliver efficient services in a transparent manner, in line with the security needs of citizens;
  • Adhere to the principle of rule of law, and whose individual members are fully accountable for their actions;
  • Are properly managed and overseen by the executive, legislative and judicial authorities;
  • Are subject to informal oversight by the media and civil society.

In support of its operations in Tunisia, DCAF has created the following free and accessible databases:

This database contains all the legislation governing the security sector in Tunisia - around 1,700 texts - which have been adopted since Tunisia's independence in 1956. The database covers the main security providers (the armed forces, the internal security services etc.), as well as oversight institutions and formal management structures (the government and its ministries, the parliament, etc.). Furthermore, it contains all the laws and regulations covering and authorizing the work of informal oversight mechanisms (political parties, the media, NGOs, etc.) as well as the international cooperation agreements in the area of security and human rights.

Marsad is the Tunisian Security Sector Observatory. It collects news, analysis and reports related to governance.


DCAF has been active in Libya since 2012. As a neutral and independent actor, DCAF aims to assist Libyans in enhancing good security sector governance, as Libya will only be able to sustainably tackle the challenges it faces if the security sector acts within a strategic framework and under democratic, national ownership. DCAF also promotes effectiveness, efficiency and transparency within the security and justice institutions. To this effect, DCAF has established an office in Tripoli, and is working with a number of local stakeholders. By making a contribution to improving good governance in the area of security, DCAF supports Libya’s democratic transition and helps to advance peace and stability in the region. In April 2014, DCAF launched the Libyan Security Sector Legal Database, providing up-to-date access to current, revoked and draft legislation governing the security sector.


DCAF launched its activities in Morocco in 2008 on the basis of the recommendations of the Moroccan Equity and Reconciliation Commission (Instance équité et réconciliation). The “third way” Morocco has engaged in since 2011 has opened additional venues to discuss reform and good governance of the security sector with the Moroccan Government, Parliament and civil society. At the request of Parliament and civil society, DCAF has organised a number of events and provided comparative expertise on good security sector governance. It also organised a conference on national security policies in North-West Africa in Rabat in 2010. Download the fact sheet on the security sector reform strategy in the recommendations of the Moroccan Equity and Reconciliation Commission here.


Events in Egypt over the past few years have showed that the civil-military relations are a key determining factor in the consolidation of Egypt’s democratic transition. Egypt's prospects for economic recovery and social stability would be bleak if relationships between its civilian and military institutions were not redefined and rendered consistent with existing international standards. DCAF aims to contribute to an open, informed and constructive debate on good security sector governance in general and civil-military relations in particular. To this end, DCAF is currently focusing on making information available and providing opportunities for knowledge exchange and debate among key stakeholders and the general public.

On 2–5 March 2014, DCAF organised a conference in Montreux, Switzerland on security sector governance and civil-military relations in Egypt.

In June 2014, DCAF launched an online observatory – Marsad – to monitor security sector developments in Egypt: and

In Sub-Saharan Africa, DCAF is active in:

In these countries DCAF:[26]

  • Coordinates regional and bilateral programmes focusing on the mainstreaming of gender in SSG, parliamentary oversight, and capacity building regarding democratic SSG for civil servants, security sector actors, expert networks, and civil society organisations.
  • Provides project-specific SSR guidance to donor countries’ field staff in the areas of assessment, programme design, and monitoring and evaluation.
  • Cooperates with the African Union (AU), the African Development Bank (AfDB), ECOWAS, the Southern African Defence and Security Management Network (SADSEM), the African Security Sector Network (ASSN), and the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC).

In Asia, DCAF is active in:

Mongolia joined DCAF in 2014. In these countries DCAF:[27]

  • Supports the Inter-Parliamentary Forum on Security Sector Governance in Southeast Asia (IPF-SSG-SEA).[28]
  • Supports regional and bilateral programmes focusing on the development of national dialogues on SSR and SSG; engages stakeholders from the armed forces, police, power ministries, parliament, academia, and civil society; and provides training and capacity development regarding SSG.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, DCAF is active in:

In Latin America and the Caribbean DCAF:[29]

  • Provides support to the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s (SDC) office in Honduras for the Swiss Cooperation Strategy for Central America 2013-2017, which entails assistance in the areas of Security Sector Reform, conflict analysis, and conflict sensitivity.
  • Developing recommendations for the European Commission on ‘EU Support to Justice and Security Sector Reform in Latin America and the Caribbean’.

Selected Focus Areas of DCAF's Thematic Programmes[edit]

Parliamentary Assistance: DCAF promotes the role of parliaments in SSG, supports capacity building and specific trainings for members of parliaments and parliamentary staff, and develops knowledge products that parliamentarians can refer to when performing their oversight duties.[30]

Private Security Governance: DCAF supports the Swiss government and the International Committee of the Red Cross in promoting the Montreux Document on Pertinent International Legal Obligations and Good Practices for States related to Operations of Private Military and Security Companies during Armed Conflict (Montreux Document). DCAF also facilitates the development, under Swiss government mandate, of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (ICoC) and its Oversight Mechanism to support compliance with the ICoC by member companies.[31]

Cyber Security, Digital Policy and Internet Governance: Over the past five years, DCAF has devoted significant research capacities to the identification of linkages between cyber security and security sector governance / security sector reform (SSG/SSR). In the framework of the ‘Horizon 2015’ project, launched in 2010, the Centre identified challenges and topics that would dominate the SSG/SSR agenda over the next five years, among which cyber security featured prominently.[32]

Ombuds Institutions for the Armed Forces: DCAF supports the annual International Conference of Ombuds Institutions for Armed Forces (ICOAF)[33] and promotes international cooperation between such bodies, formulating policy recommendations, and documenting best practices and lessons learned.

Gender and Security: DCAF works directly with national law enforcement, defence, security, and justice institutions on mainstreaming gender into their policies and practices, including assisting with institutional gender (self-)assessments, assisting the implementation of National Action Plans for United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, curriculum development, training of trainers, reducing the dependence of security education and training institutions on experts from donor countries (by developing the capacity of local institutions), supporting institutional development of female staff associations, and the promotion of women's participation in the security sector and its reform.[34]

Integrity Building: DCAF supports, in the areas of police reform and defence reform, the building up of institutional integrity, reduction of corruption, and the enhancement of transparency and accountability. The Centre also supports the integrity building self-assessment process in member states of the South-Eastern Europe Defence Ministerial (SEDM) process (which includes Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United States). DCAF also runs a dedicated Police Integrity Building Programme (PIBP) in Southeast Europe.[35]

Asylum, Migration and counter-Trafficking in Human Beings: In 2014, DCAF successfully continued its nascent programme on Asylum, Migration and Counter-Trafficking in Human Beings (THB). In this Framework, DCAF has maintained a strong working relationship with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and Swiss experts for projects in Romania and Bulgaria.[36]

Global Health and Security: As a result of the Ebola outbreak of 2014 in Western Africa, DCAF forms a partnership with the Global Health Programme of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID), bringing together experts and high-level opinion leaders from the global health and security sector communities to examine the question of employing the security sector in the service of global health crisis prevention and management.[37]

DCAF Knowledge Products[edit]

Prominent DCAF resources for SSR practitioners include:

  • Handbook on Parliamentary Oversight of the Security Sector[38]
  • Toolkit on Police Integrity[39]
  • Building Integrity and Reducing Corruption in Defence: A Compendium of Best Practices[40]
  • Overseeing Intelligence Services: A Toolkit[41]
  • Gender and Security Sector Reform Toolkit[42]
  • Ombuds Institutions for the Armed Forces: A Handbook[43]
  • Handbook on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Armed Forces Personnel[44]

The Centre produces a number of topic-specific publications and publication series to support research into SSR and SSG, as well as related fields, including SSR Papers, Yearly Books, and the DCAF Backgrounders series.[45]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ DCAF, DCAF Annual Report 2014, p. 5, [1], Released 2015
  2. ^ DCAF Website, "About Us", (
  3. ^ DCAF website, "Who we are", (
  4. ^ DCAF, DCAF Annual Report 2014, pp. 5-15, [2], Released 2015
  5. ^ a b c "DCAF Flyer 2016" (PDF). Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces. 7 October 2016. 
  6. ^ DCAF website, "Where we work", (
  7. ^ DCAF website, "Where we work", Eastern Europe and Central Asia (
  8. ^ DCAF website, "Where we work", Latin America and the Caribbean (
  9. ^ Campus de la paix website, "Horizon 2013", the Graduate Institute
  10. ^ (DCAF), Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces. "DCAF - News - DCAF announces new Staff Structure". Retrieved 2017-04-08. 
  11. ^ DCAF, DCAF Annual Report 2014, p. 174 (, Released 2015
  12. ^ DCAF, DCAF Annual Report 2014, pp. 25-28 (, Released 2015
  13. ^ DCAF, DCAF Annual Report 2012, p. 12 (, Released 2013
  14. ^ UN Integrated Technical Guidance Notes on SSR, p. iv, (
  15. ^ DCAF Website, Project, DDR-SSR Nexus, (
  16. ^ United Nations Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Resource Centre, IDDRS-Framework, Module 6.10, (
  17. ^ DCAF, DCAF Annual Report 2014, pp. 29-34 (, Released 2015
  18. ^ DCAF, DCAF Annual Report 2014, pp. 35-39 (, Released 2015
  19. ^ OSCE Website, Press Release, "Switzerland, Serbia to chair OSCE in 2014 and 2015" (
  20. ^ DCAF, DCAF Annual Report 2014, pp. 40-44 (, Released 2015
  21. ^ DCAF, DCAF Annual Report 2014, pp. 45-46 (, Released 2015
  22. ^ DCAF, DCAF Annual Report 2014, pp. 55-64 (, Released 2015
  23. ^ DCAF, DCAF Annual Report 2014, pp. 68-74 (, Released 2015
  24. ^ See the website for DCAF's activities in Tunisia (, visited August 2014
  25. ^ DCAF, DCAF Annual Report 2014, pp. 75-80 (, Released 2015
  26. ^ DCAF, DCAF Annual Report 2014, pp. 81-89 (, Released 2015
  27. ^ DCAF, DCAF Annual Report 2014, pp. 91-97 (, Released 2015
  28. ^ IPF-SSG-SEA Website homepage (
  29. ^ DCAF, DCAF Annual Report 2014, pp. 98-99 (, Released 2015
  30. ^ DCAF, DCAF Annual Report 2014, pp. 103-108 (, Released 2015
  31. ^ DCAF, DCAF Annual Report 2014, pp. 109-114 (, Released 2015
  32. ^ DCAF, DCAF Annual Report 2014, pp. 119-122 (, Released 2015
  33. ^ DCAF, DCAF Annual Report 2014, pp. 123-127 (, Released 2015
  34. ^ DCAF, DCAF Annual Report 2014, pp. 128-131 (, Released 2015
  35. ^ DCAF, DCAF Annual Report 2014, pp. 133-134, Released 2015
  36. ^ DCAF, DCAF Annual Report 2014, pp. 135-139, Released 2015
  37. ^ DCAF, DCAF Annual Report 2014, pp. 140-143, Released 2015
  38. ^ DCAF website, Inter-Parliamentary Union Handbook on Parliamentary Oversight of the Security Sector, (
  39. ^ DCAF website, Toolkit on Police Integrity, (
  40. ^ DCAF website, Building Integrity and Reducing Corruption in Defence: A Compendium of Best Practices, (
  41. ^ DCAF website, Overseeing Intelligence Services: A Toolkit, (
  42. ^ DCAF website, Gender and Security Sector Reform Toolkit, (
  43. ^ DCAF website, Ombuds Institutions for the Armed Forces: A Handbook, (
  44. ^ DCAF website, Handbook on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Armed Forces Personnel, (
  45. ^ DCAF website, "Publications", (

See also[edit]

External links[edit]