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Implementation of Police-Related Programmes – Lessons Learned in South-Eastern Europe


This lessons learned report describes and compares the challenges the Law Enforcement Departments (LEDs) of the OSCE field operations faced when they implemented their mandates. Furthermore, the report compiles and compares the strategies and practices the LEDs applied to cope with the challenges. This is the Volume 7 in the SPMU Publication Series.


OSCE’s police-related activities in South-Eastern Europe have taken place in a challenging environment. In post-conflict societies, police forces had often been discredited by participating in fighting and engaging in serious violations of human rights against their people, or at least against certain segments of society. These police forces had to be reformed in order to gain public confidence in the police. This reform was a prerequisite for achieving acceptance of the state’s monopoly of force and forestalling vigilantism. Furthermore, police forces in South-Eastern Europe displayed the typical deficiencies of the security sector of post-socialist transitions states, such as over-centralization, politicization and militarization of the police apparatus as well as a reputation for human right abuses and endemic corruption.

The OSCE was forced to plan and implement its police training and reform projects in this challenging environment, often on short notice and without any templates or an organisational memory to rely upon.

In Chapter II, a brief overview will be given of the mandates, including a description of the main tasks and the number of staff, with which the field operations/LEDs have been provided.

In Chapter III, implementation challenges and strategies will be compared, focusing on the mission planning and set-up phase.

Chapter IV describes the general challenges the field operations faced during the police reform programme implementation phase.

Chapter V focuses on the challenges that came up during the implementation of projects in specific areas of police reform.

Chapter VI elaborates on the challenges occurring in the programme exit phase, and on the challenges for the sustainability of police reform.

In Chapter VII, conclusions are drawn and the recommendations/lessons-to-learned summarized.