8877 - The Role of Citizen and Community Participation in the Transformation of the 'Security Software'

In Latin America as well as other regions there has been and increasing interest in promoting citizen and community participation in security governance and crime prevention initiatives. It is normally assumed that increasing participation from a wider range of social actors can help to improve the relationship and levels of trust between the state institutions and citizens, to strengthen social networks and local capacity, and to make preventive measures better adapted to local contexts (Dammert, 2003). Based on the case of marginalised urban communities of Medellin, this paper recognises and highlights the potential of involving citizens and local communities beyond these expected outcomes, but also the limitations of current approaches to encourage citizen’s participation in the security realm. I first suggest that to improve security provision and to make it an enabler of democracy and the fulfilment of citizen’s rights, a transformation of its ‘software’ and not only its ‘hardware’ is needed and that people could greatly contribute in this process. Finally, I show how lack of understanding of the complex context in which people live and held assumptions regarding marginalised communities make participation spaces offered by the state, not only less likely to enable the transformative potential of people’s participation, but in some cases, even likely to create further insecurity risks.

Keywords: Comunity participation, security governance, security transformation

Author: Abello Colak, Alexandra (University of Bradford, United Kingdom/Ver Königr)


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