CESS - The Centre
The Centre for European Security Studies (CESS) is based in Groningen, the Netherlands. It seeks to support civil society in young democracies, but its sponsors are mostly government organisations. CESS is entirely financed by grants and assignments for its programmes.
In the early 1990s, we started out running programmes to encourage democratic defence reform in Central and Eastern Europe. Today, we deal with security policy in the widest sense of the term. Our work consists mostly of training, and our area of operations ranges from the Caucasus, Central Asia and South East Europe to Africa. Democratic governance has remained our primary concern. In the words of our former research director David Greenwood, democratic governments must "reveal, explain and justify" their actions. Transparent and accountable governance is perhaps most difficult to achieve in the domain of security policy, but that is exactly where it is most urgently needed.
We are independent, but not neutral. We advocate democracy and the rule of law. We believe that free elections, accountable government, a strong parliament, a vibrant civil society, critical media and control of security forces are desirable everywhere in the world. Of course, each society develops its own brand of democracy and its own form of security sector governance.
Here are some distinctive features of our centre:
- We are independent, but work closely with national governments and international governmental organisations;
- We have a small staff, but a rich and wide-ranging international network of associate experts and instructors;
- We are intimately familiar with the security sector and the problems of young democracies;
- We conduct policy research on issues of governance in the security sector;
- We provide training for mixed groups of practitioners from government, the media and civil society;
- We work in country and in the local language;
- We seek the help of local partners, and provide them with support;
- We provide teaching material and training for local trainers, so that local people can carry on the training effort.