Securing Tyrants or Fostering Reform? U.S. Internal Security Assistance to Repressive and Transitioning Regimes

Securing Tyrants or Fostering Reform? U.S. Internal Security Assistance to Repressive and Transitioning Regimes

Securing Tyrants or Fostering Reform? U.S. Internal Security Assistance to Repressive and Transitioning Regimes

Securing Tyrants or Fostering Reform? U.S. Internal Security Assistance to Repressive and Transitioning Regimes

Synopsis

This study examines the results of U.S. assistance to the internal security forces of four repressive states: El Salvador, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Efforts to improve the security, human rights, and accountability of security forces appear more likely to succeed in states transitioning from repressive to democratic systems. In addition, several factors are critical for success: the duration of assistance, viability of the justice system, and support and buy-in from the local government (including key ministries).

Excerpt

The United States has historically provided assistance to the security forces of repressive, non-democratic countries that do not share its political ideals. This assistance is intended to improve their ability to deal with threats such as terrorism and perhaps to improve human rights. the security forces in these countries are not accountable to the public, and their activities and approaches are not transparent. This practice of providing assistance to repressive states raises a number of questions, the answers to which have significant policy implications. Has U.S. assistance improved the effectiveness of internal security agencies in countering security threats? Has U.S. assistance improved the accountability and human rights records of these agencies? What is the relationship between improving security and improving accountability and human rights? This study seeks some answers to these questions.

The research was funded by the Open Society Institute and was conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the rand Corporation’s National Security Research Division (NSRD). nsrd conducts research and analysis for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the defense agencies, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the U.S. CoastGuard, the U.S. Intelligence Community, allied foreign governments, and foundations. For more information on RAND’s International Security and Defense Policy Center, contact the Director, James Dobbins. He can be reached by email at James_Dobbins@rand.org; by phone at 703-413-1100, extension 5134; or by mail at the rand Corporation, 1200 South Hayes Street, Arlington, Virginia 22202. More information about rand is available at www.rand.org.

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