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Reading List: Democratic Policing in Security Sector Reform By: Simon De Saint-Claire | SSR | Feb 10, 2015

Over the last 15 years Security Sector Reform (SSR) has become a vital tool in restoring peace and justice in post-conflict environments. Intergovernmental organisations such as the United Nations, OECD, EU, and OSCE have been driving forces in policy works, and more recently international foundations and NGOs, such as ICRC, DCAF and Amnesty International have provided a wealth of “how to” handbooks and guides. Such organisations are complimented by resource rich websites from practitioners, networks, global watch dogs, think-tanks and academia.

I have chosen a number of works I have found extremely useful, aimed at the Democratic Policing aspect of Security Sector Reform. Many articles, guides and handbooks have a tendency to become dated from the time of publication; the following have thus far stood the test of time. 

Democratic Policing in Transitional and Developing Countries
(Eds. Pino / Wiatrowski), ISBN: 978-0-7546-4719-5
This is a must read for those involved with Democratic Policing policy and management as it explores the models and practices used in the ‘West’ and their applicability and transfer into Mission areas. To quote “will assist academics, policy makers, NGOs, and others in tailoring a local democratic policing strategy within a broader framework that attempts to enhance socio-economics development and citizen capacity, build social capital, reduce various forms of conflict, support human rights and other necessary goals…”

Resurrecting the Iraqi Police: Observations of an American Street Cop in Iraq
(Larry D. Allen) ISBN-13: 978-0595440078
Written by a retired US Police Officer, once past the patriotic flag waving and apple pie, this short book highlights the adverse effect of military-driven policy on an international police mission. Although located in Baghdad, this could as easily be in Kabul or Monrovia, where military and civilian actors pursue differing counter-productive training objectives e.g. US military training local police in tactical skills (for use as auxiliary infantry) vs. their civilian counterparts focusing on integrated community orientated policing. The book also explores the potentially detrimental role of the private sector on a police mission (contractors, short-term, results driven). In the author’s words “This book contains old-fashioned common sense and logic.”

OSCE Strategic Policing Matters Unit
1. Guidebook on Democratic Policing (Kevin Carty, OSCE Senior Police Advisor, V.3 2009) – online
Written by a former Senior Police Officer specifically for police practitioners and policy-makers working to develop and strengthen democratic policing. The Guidebook articulates an integrated approach to: “the importance of the commitment to the rule of law, policing ethics, and human rights standards; the essential nature of police accountability to the law and to the society they serve; as well as the need for their cooperation with the communities - recognising that effective policing requires partnership with the communities being served.” The Guidebook also examines the key organisational and managerial issues considered necessary to achieve and sustain democratic policing. Although originally written in 2006, the publication has been updated several times, and remains an essential foundation resource.

2. Good Practices in Building Police-Public Partnerships (OSCE, 2008) – online
Another worthy offering from OSCE: Community-Oriented Policing and Police-Public Partnerships have increasingly become core principles in contemporary and effective Democratic Police/Law enforcement Reform. This book draws together these common basic principles and characteristics of community policing addressing what community policing is - and is not. The approach is strategic and measurable, ultimately focused on public benefit.

OECD DAC Handbook on Security System Reform: Supporting Security and Justice (2007) - online
This comprehensive handbook for those: running security system reform (SSR) programmes, offering advice on designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating SSR programmes with different institutions, including the police, intelligence services and the military. According to the OECD, it is aimed at bridging the gap between policy and practice, thus encouraging a more coherent approach.

Two others works also worth mentioning:
1. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty
(Acemoglu / Robinson) ISBN-13: 978-0307719218
The book explains why economic and political conditions have arisen or are perpetuated in developing, emerging and failed states. “Why Nations Fail sets out to answer the question of prosperity, with a compelling and elegantly argued new theory: that it is not down to climate, geography or culture, but because of institutions. The book blends economics, politics, history and current affairs to provide a new, powerful and persuasive way of understanding wealth and poverty.” Such background knowledge will provide practitioners with a greater understanding of the challenges posed to Rule of Law and Security Sector Reform & Governance within Mission areas.

2. Topic Guide on Security Sector Reform (GSDRC) (2005-2010) – online
This booklet provides an introduction to the key issues in SSR, and guidance on where to find further resources.


Simon de Saint-Claire is a specialist in the field of Rule of Law-based Security Sector Reform, Governance and Development; Police Integrity issues and Society. Over the last two decades he has worked with numerous International Security Sector, Peace and Humanitarian actors from: International and Regional Organisations (UN, EU, OSCE, USAID); National Agencies (Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Japan, New Zealand); Missions (Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Lebanon, Angola, Liberia), and the Private Security Sector (USA, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan).

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