“Security Sector Oversight in Post-Authoritarian Contexts: Protecting Democratic Consolidation from Partisan Abuse” questions whether legal and institutional design (including constitutions) can create frameworks for civilian control without the attendant danger they may pose to political pluralism – that is, to achieve civilization without politicization.
Security Sector Oversight in Post-Authoritarian Contexts: Protecting Democratic Consolidation from Partisan Abuse
Institutionalizing civilian control of the security sector (the military, police, and intelligence services) is an essential component of liberal democratic rule. But civilian control may have the perverse effect of opening the door to the partisan abuse of the security sector by the governing party to target its political opponents. In democratic transitions, this risk may threaten the consolidation of democracy itself, and pave the way to democratic authoritarianism.
The basic research question for the project is whether legal and institutional design (including constitutions) can create frameworks for civilian control without the attendant danger they may pose to political pluralism – that is, to achieve civilianization without politicization. This question is central to the constitutional transitions currently underway in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and has also arisen in previous constitutional transitions in other regions, especially Southern Europe, Latin America, and South Africa. But it has suffered from comparative neglect in the vast literatures on democratization, security sector reform, and national security law. Addressing this issue is of pressing importance for both the scholarly and policy communities.
This project will be led by Constitutional Transitions (the Center for Constitutional Transitions at the NYU School of Law) through an international network of scholars and senior policy experts from the region currently in transition – MENA – with counterparts from Latin America, Southern Europe, South Africa, North America, and Western Europe.
The work product would consist of working papers, scholarly articles, book chapters, edited volumes, and research reports. These will also be simultaneously published online on an open-source basis, in both English and Arabic, to ensure a broad regional audience and immediate public policy impact. These materials will be made available on a non-partisan basis to provide a comparative knowledge base for domestic constitutional choice in the MENA and beyond.