Interim Justice and Security Arrangements in States Transitioning from Authoritarian to Democratic Rule

August 07, 2012 - 2:10pm
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The second decade of the new millennium has been marked by the departure of some longstanding authoritarian regimes. The Arab Spring has heralded the prospect of some form of democratic rule in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.  Myanmar held its first democratic elections after four decades of a repressive military junta.  Syria has reached a tipping point: a weakening but not defeated government arrayed against an increasingly organized and armed opposition. Whatever the nature of regime change in Damascus, and if there is not to be outright civil war, there will be a period in which the still constituted security institutions and opposition forces will need to be brought together into the same fold.

In short, the months and years ahead will see the challenge of managing political transitions continuing, perhaps even growing, in a context in which there may be fewer external resources to assist these processes;  ensuring effective systems of justice and security, by building on what is already present on the ground and providing a foundation for the control and oversight of new justice and security institutions when negotiating the rocky path from authoritarian to democratic rule, is therefore a crucial debate. It has been dominated too long by a narrow technical focus on such issues as police training and advice and too little on broader strategic questions of ensuring effective justice and security and oversight (including by opposition political forces) during the transition period. That is the focus of this paper.