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Civil Society in Southeast Europe

Civil Society in Southeast Europe

Civil Society in Southeast Europe

The role of civil society in the democratic control of the security sector

Civil society is an essential component in the democratic control of the security sector. Civil society organisations (CSOs), academia and the media can act as a link between the security sector and the general public, for example, by informing citizens about the activities of security actors or by representing local interest groups in discussions on security and defence policies. By critically examining the work of security actors and analysing security and defence related policy and legislation, civil society can provide additional oversight of the security sector and complement formal oversight actors such as national parliaments.  The role of civil society is therefore indispensable in the creation and maintenance of democratic security institutions and their public support.

DCAF’s work with civil society in Southeast Europe

DCAF is convinced of the importance of civil society’s contribution to security sector reform (SSR) in Southeast Europe and therefore supports and cooperates with civil society organisations (CSOs) from the region. DCAF’s activities concentrate in particular on:

  • Supporting SSR research and awareness raising initiatives by local CSOs;
  • Providing opportunities for civil society representatives to meet or work together to share knowledge and experience in researching SSR in the region;
  • Building the capacity of local civil society representatives, for example, by increasing their knowledge on security sector reform or by improving their research or advocacy skills;
  • Cooperating with local researchers on regional publications on SSR in Southeast Europe;

In its work with civil society in Southeast Europe DCAF puts a strong emphasis on regional activities, such as joint regional publications, meetings and exchanges. (See for example, below: the DCAF Young Faces Network or the recent project ‘Western Balkans: Civil Society Capacity Building to Map and Monitor SSR’.)

Examples of activities

  • Thematic conferences on SSR
  • Regional research projects
  • Support for national research projects
  • Support for national awareness raising activities
  • Expert training on improving CSO advocacy skills
  • Expert training on improving SSR research skills

Current Projects:

DCAF Southeast Europe Regional Young Faces Network

The DCAF Young Faces Network brings together young professionals from Southeast Europe who want to increase their knowledge on security sector reform (SSR). Each year capacity building activities for young scholars, government officials, journalists and civil society leaders from the Southeast Europe region are organised as part of the programme to develop their skills to monitor and work on SSR in their countries.

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Strengthening Intelligence Oversight in the Western Balkans

DCAF is currently undertaking a two year project on strengthening intelligence oversight in the Western Balkans. The project focuses on oversight by parliamentary committees and autonomous bodies such as ombuds institutions, supreme audit institutions, data protection commissions and inspectors general.  While focussing on these oversight bodies, the project also  engages with other key stakeholders including civil society organisations, government ministries, and intelligence services.

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Private security companies in the Western Balkans

The three-year research project ‘Private security companies in the Western Balkans’, launched in June 2014, brings together researchers from DCAF and four partner organisations in the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe to develop research outputs on private security company (PSC) regulation in Albania, Bulgaria, Kosovo and Serbia.

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Example of past projects:

Western Balkans: Civil Society Capacity Building to Map and Monitor SSR

The three-year project 'Civil Society Capacity Building to Map and Monitor Security Sector Reform in the Western Balkans' was launched in February 2009 and co-organised by DCAF and the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP).

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Regional Training on Police Corruption Research (April to June 2013)

The police, as the security force most visible to citizens, forms the face of security and shape public perceptions of national security. Issues of police corruption are, therefore, important not only in that corruption damages and distorts the provision of security, but also in the negative impact that it has on the public’s perception of safety, security and justice.

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13.12.2016 Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina:  A DCAF expert participated in the Regional Conference on Public-Private Partnerships in the Security Sector organized in Banja Luka the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republika Srpska. 

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Franziska Klopfer

Project Coordinator, Southeast Europe Division