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).