Democratic Security Sector Governance

Civil society organisations’ (encompassing CSOs and associations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and community groups) engagement on security issues enables the perspective of the general population to be factored into security policymaking and governance processes.

CSOs can perform an active function by monitoring security policies and practices affecting their constituents and advocating for appropriate solutions. CSO cooperation with the parliament is also critical in enabling and sustaining democratic governance of the security sector by providing information on the current security climate, human rights abuses, and expertise on budgetary oversight to committee hearings.

CSOs can also facilitate a cross-societal consensus on security policy priorities by improving public awareness of security issues. In addition, specialized CSO, i.e. women’s organizations, will have distinct insight and analysis regarding threats to and abuses against their target groups, as well as broader intelligence on communities’ perception of the security sector, and reports of irregularities. Overall, CSOs can perform a crucial dialogue and cooperation function by bringing citizens, democratic institutions, and security sector agencies together in order to address security provision challenges.

Media can facilitate the governance of security institutions through investigative journalism and by providing platforms for information-sharing and discussion on security issues that all stakeholders can access.

By investigating and reporting on abuses within the security and justice institutions, media organisations can help expose failures in transparency and accountability mechanisms, management and governance systems.

Print and electronic media can also reflect the monitoring activities of civil society organisations on security institutions and the level of public security provision. Furthermore, it can play a role in supporting the integrity of the judiciary by acting as a guardian against corruption through investigative journalism, through which cases of corruption and the abuse of power are publicised.


Eden Cole, Kerstin Eppert and Katrin Kinzelbach (eds.), Public Oversight of the Security Sector. A Handbook for Civil Society Organisations.(Bratislava: Valeur for UNDP, 2008).

Legislating for the Security Sector Toolkit: Compilation of Good Practices for Intelligence Agencies and their Oversight

The Compilation of Good Practices within the Security Sector Toolkit highlights the legal and institutional frameworks and measures that ensure respect for human rights by intelligence agencies while countering terrorism. The toolkit also identifies in … read more

Legislating for the Security Sector Toolkit: Understanding Intelligence Oversight

This guidebook provides an introduction on how democratic states govern their intelligence services. The toolkit demonstrates how states can govern their intelligence services in order to make sure that: They contribute effectively to the security of t … read more

Handbook on Police Accountability, Oversight and Integrity

This Handbook is one of the practical tools developed by UNODC to support countries in the implementation of the rule of law and the development of criminal justice reform. It aims to assist countries in their efforts to develop effective systems of ov … read more

SSR: Narrowing the Gap between Theory and Practice

The persistent gap between theory and practice in SSR can be a source of much irritation and disappointment at failures to implement SSR norms as well as in response to concepts and strategies that seem unhelpfully far removed from local realities. Thi … read more

Building Public Support for Anti-Corruption Efforts

This paper provides a practical overview of how an agency may work with the media to win the support of the public in the fight against corruption. The paper is intended as a “how-to” guide to help agencies understand how to control the way they presen … read more

UNDP-OHCHR Toolkit for Collaboration with National Human Rights Institutions

The Toolkit identifies good practices and support strategies for projects aimed at supporting organisational development and capacity assessment generally, with a focus on the two substantive areas of NHRI work: Protection mandate: investigations, effe … read more

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism

This is the third annual report submitted to the Human Rights Council by the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. In Chapter II of the report, the Special Rapporteur lis … read more

Oversight and Guidance: The Relevance of Parliamentary Oversight for the Security Sector

This updated version of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly – DCAF Vademecum on Oversight and Guidance of the Security Sector, as with the first edition published in 2003, seeks to present information on parliamentary oversight and guidance of the security … read more

Technical Guide to the United Nations Convention against Corruption

The present Technical Guide primarily focuses on the provision to anti-corruption practitioners and authorities of relevant technical advice, tools and examples of good practices to make the articles of the Convention operational. The Technical Guide a … read more

OECD Glossaries: Corruption: A Glossary of International Standards in Criminal Law

This Glossary explains the key elements required to classify corruption as a criminal act, according to three major international conventions: the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions; … read more

Working with the United Nations Human Rights Programme: A Handbook for Civil Society

Working with the United Nations Human Rights Programme: A Handbook for Civil Society is addressed to the civil society actors who, every day in every part of the world, contribute to the promotion, protection and advancement of human rights. Developed … read more

Security Sector Reform and Gender Toolkit

This Toolkit is an initial response to the need for information and analysis on gender and SSR. It is designed to provide policymakers and practitioners with a practical introduction to why gender issues are important in SSR and what can be done to int … read more

Public Oversight of the Security Sector: A Handbook for Civil Society Organizations

This Handbook provides structured guidance for civil society organisations (CSOs) on the role they can play in democratic security sector oversight. Although many CSOs have facilitated security sector reform processes in transition and post-conflict st … read more

Report on the Democratic Oversight of the Security Services

The focus of the 2007 report is democratic oversight of security agencies, meaning oversight of the agency, or agencies, performing the function of internal security.

Defence Institution Building Sourcebook in Support of the Partnership Action Plan on DIB: What Kind of Defence Do We Need?

This book aims to be a sourcebook on ‘defence institution building’, drawing on established practices in Western Europe, but also on recent experiences from among new NATO members. All contributions focus on ongoing defence reform. The chapters in this … read more

Photo credit: Ivan Bandura (Flickr)

© Copyright 2022, All Rights Reserved

Web Development by Activate Media