Civil society and the security sector

In the Arab uprisings of 2011 and during the years that followed, civil society organisations played a crucial role inspiring change. New civil society organisations flourished and existing ones enjoyed a more open political space than ever before. This radical change from the authoritarianism of previous decades spurred activism and political mobilisation across entire nations. People felt they could finally influence their destinies and the future of their countries.

But political space is being challenged once again. Political instability and security threats have brought governments from the old regimes back to power in several North African countries. New restrictions on public movements and civil society activity have emerged, starkly challenging the achievements of the Arab uprisings.

In Egypt, Saferworld has supported civil society efforts to modernise the police force in line with human rights standards, encouraging democratic, gender-sensitive and community-based policing and security provision. We promoted more dialogue and engagement between the government and civil society for better state-society relations. Based on the evidence from our work, we engaged with international actors to inform their security policies in the region. 

Tunisia’s gradual transition to democracy has furthered many reforms, including in the security sector. Saferworld and civil society partners have conducted research to better understand civil society’s role in questions of security as well as their potential for enhancing it as Tunisia’s democratisation process deepens.

Take a look at our policing resources.