Democracy and Citizen Security

Last updated / Ultima actualización: Octubre, 2008


Citizens are entitled to feel secure and protected in their daily lives. The last decade has seen growing recognition of the marked impact that crime, conflict and violence have on democracy and development throughout the Hemisphere. Many countries in the Americas confront severe security challenges of organized crime, such as narco-trafficking and kidnapping, corruption, juvenile crime, and youth gangs. Crime, violence and conflict sow fear and anxiety about personal security and hinder economic development by making areas unattractive for investment. They also reduce profitability due to the need for private security services to protect employees and the transportation of goods. Public outrage over the lack of government commitment to promote citizen security, reduce crime and violence, and contain conflict, may result in lack of credibility of public institutions such as the judiciary and police and negatively affect trust in democratic governance. Thus, poor quality citizen security may affect different sectors of the population and generate both direct and indirect social, economic and political costs.

The Political Database of the Americas, with the financial support of the Open Society Institute, and the collaboration of FLACSO-Chile (Program on Security and Citizenship) has designed and developed this section on Citizen Security with the goal to disseminate information on the institutional and legal frameworks for citizen security policy in the various countries of the Americas. Other entities such as the Colombia and Brazil Programs, both part of the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University; Georgetown Program of Government (in the person of Professor John Bailey); and the Department of Public Security of the Organization of American States (OAS) have also worked as collaborating institutions with this project, interchanging information and data to contribute to the research and discussion of specific issues. The section was structured in the basis of country cases, which follows below:

Case Studies

Each case study is organized as follows:

  1. General background
  2. Legislation on Citizen Security policy
  3. Institutions responsible for Citizen Security
  4. Policies and programs on citizen security
  5. Financing Citizen Security
  6. Lessons learned from Citizen Security initiatives
  7. Evaluations of security policies
  8. Data and statistical information on Citizen Security
  9. Links