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Guidebook on Democratic Policing by the Senior Police Adviser to the OSCE Secretary General


The Guidebook is designed to assist OSCE staff dealing with police and law enforcement issues, police practitioners and policy-makers working to develop and strengthen democratic policing, to serve as a reference to internationally adopted standards. This is the Volume 1 in the SPMU Publication Series.


The police are the most visible manifestation of government authority responsible for public security. While being under enormous pressure throughout the OSCE area to counter the rising tide of organized crime and the new threats to international and national security, including those emanating from terrorism, the police must operate in accordance with national and international law and respect human rights at all times.

The OSCE participating States “consider the democratic political control of […] the police to be an indispensable element of stability and security.” In the course of supporting a democratization process in post-conflict societies, as well as societies in transition, a growing emphasis has been placed on the rule of law. This has revealed the lack of a standardized conceptual foundation to guide these police-related activities, resulting in a number of different approaches towards implementing police training as well as police reform programmes.

The Guidebook articulates the objectives of democratic police services and forces; the importance of their commitment to the rule of law, policing ethics, and human rights standards; the essential nature of police accountability to the law and to the society they serve; as well as the need for their co-operation with the communities, recognizing that effective policing requires partnership with the communities being served. Furthermore, the Guidebook elaborates on structural and managerial aspects within the police which are considered necessary to achieve and sustain democratic policing.

Each of these principles of democratic policing is further elaborated in the Guidebook and referenced to relevant in-depth studies and international standards or commitments. The Guidebook is the ‘key’ to ‘unlocking’ these documents for the reader.