Ferguson, Missouri: Not Just an American Tragedy

The shooting death of Mike Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer and the subsequent stand-offs between protestors and heavily armed law enforcement units might seem like a quintessentially all-American tragedy. But it’s not. Consider the violent rioting that erupted across England in 2011, after police in London shot dead Mark Duggan, a black British …

Equality Betrayed: Speaking Out Against Ethnic Profiling by French Police

Adji Ahoudian is a French citizen, and an elected member in the office of the mayor of the 19th arrondissement in Paris. He proudly remembers the day he received his new official I.D., with the Republican motto “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”. But then, after attending a council meeting one day, he was stopped by the police …

Immigration Crackdown in Stockholm Provokes Pushback

The messages keep coming in to the Facebook and Twitter accounts of a social network called REVA Spotter: 10.37am: uniformed police at Fridhemsplan station, on their way to the platform. 11.04am: uniformed cops at Central station, Sergels Square exit. Seem to be checking ID. 11.30am: police checks at Maltesholmsvägen and Hasselby Square. The updates provide …

Still Waiting for an End to Police Discrimination in Spain

Rosalind Williams has a special place in the struggle against discrimination by European police forces against people of color and ethnic minorities. Twenty years ago, she was stopped and asked for her identity papers by Spanish police in a railway station. An African-American who had acquired Spanish citizenship by marriage, she was travelling with her …

It Takes Two to Tango: Towards Integrated Development and Security Sector Reform (SSR) Assistance

*NOTE: This is an excerpt of Chapter 12 in the edited volume "Back to the Roots: Security Sector Reform and Development", edited by Albrecht Schnabel and Vanessa Farr and published by the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) as their 2012 Yearly Book. This work was written with Albrecht Schnabel and …

Mapping Evolving Internal Roles of the Armed Forces

It is widely assumed, at least from a Western perspective, that the armed forces provide national defence against external threats. In reality, within many consolidated Western democracies the armed forces are assuming an increasingly wide range of internal roles and tasks. These can include domestic security roles and the provision of humanitarian assistance in situations of natural or humanitarian catastrophe, often under the command and control of different civilian agencies. This SSR Paper seeks to make sense of this complex reality. Different internal roles of armed forces are analysed, drawing on the cases of Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Through carefully examining evolving internal roles and identifying patterns and lessons from these experiences, this SSR Paper provides an important contribution to understanding the evolving nature of contemporary armed forces.

The Rule of Law and Security Sector Reform: Conceptualising a Complex Relationship

There is a clear need to better understand the relationship between two concepts at the heart of peacebuilding: the Rule of Law (RoL), and Security Sector Reform (SSR). If it is acknowledged in principle that they are interdependent, in practice enduring conceptual ambiguities and contradictions undermine latent synergies. As a consequence, international donor agencies are …

Policing the Police: Civilian Video Monitoring of Police Activity

Police misconduct and violence continues throughout the world, often without any oversight, accountability or justice for the victims. Recent deaths of civilians by police officers in New York, violent repression of “Occupy” protestors, and rampant police violence in response to the “Arab Spring” have brought renewed attention to the persistent issue of police violence. A …

Statement presented to the Public Safety Committee of the New York City Council on NYPD Stop-and-Frisk and Oversight

*NOTE: This statement was presented to the New York City Council's Public Safety Committee regarding internal oversight and accountability mechanisms within the NYPD. The statement detailed continued racial profiling and unconstitutional stop-and-frisks by the NYPD, failure to implement discipline for substantiated cases of misconduct, and recommendation to appoint a special prosecutor and independent police auditor. …