Democratic Security Sector Governance

The role of parliamentary committees is multi-faceted:

  • determining the legal framework for security policy and practice;
  • monitoring, debating and shaping policy and practice in plenary sessions and in specialised committees, including not only those dealing with defence, law enforcement and intelligence oversight, but also human rights, audit, budget and finance committees;
  • approving, developing or rejecting policy, laws and budgets; and involvement in the appointment processes for senior posts within the security institutions to minimize any political interference
  • engaging with civil society, ombuds institutions, media, security sector institutions and government to identify problems with security sector policies and practices and to subsequently identify relevant solutions

If committees conduct monitoring and oversight activities in a systematic and proactive fashion they can serve as a catalyst for change in the security sector: once parliamentarians and committees publicly or privately highlight a particular security sector oversight challenge, the issue is usually assigned a higher priority by government, institutions and the security sector itself.



Hans Born, Philipp Fluri, Anders Johnsson, Parliamentary Oversight of the Security Sector: Principles, Mechanisms and Practices, Handbook for Parliamentarians No. 5, (Geneva, 2003).

For general guidance, also see: Office for Promotion of Parliamentary Democracy, European Parliament, Parliamentary Oversight of the Security Sector, (European Parliament: OPPD, 2013),

For NATO and NATO partner nations, see:

Eden Cole, Philipp Fluri, Simon Lunn (eds.), Oversight and Guidance: Parliaments and Security Sector Governance, (Geneva: 2015)

Hans Born, Philipp H. Fluri, Simon Lunn (eds.), Oversight and Guidance: The Relevance of Parliamentary Oversight for the Security Sector, (Geneva, 2003)  Second edition (Geneva 2010), here.

For detailed guidance on Parliament’s powers in relation to security sector oversight, see:

Teodora Fuior, Parliamentary Powers in Security Governance, (Geneva, 2011).

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