Doc. 9712

13 February 2003

Democratic oversight of the security sector in member states

Motion for a recommendation

presented by Mr Čekuolis and others

This motion has not been discussed in the Assembly and commits only the members who have signed it

1.       One of the objectives of the Council of Europe is to contribute to democratic security, that is the guarantee of stability and security between states and within states through the efficient implementation of pluralistic democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Both the internal and external security and stability of member countries, have to be protected against a new set of risks and threats, that go far beyond the traditional security concerns, i.e. terrorist attacks, organised crime, illegal trafficking of persons, goods and arms and inter-ethnic conflicts etc. the above requires the existence of monitoring and control capabilities (including the possible use of force) for more than one type of forces, so as to include various elements of the security sector: the military, paramilitary forces, police, border guards, intelligence agencies and other internal security forces.

2.       The role and tasks of these forces are manifold. Internally, they are maintaining law and order, safeguarding the security, physical safety and property of inhabitants, protecting democratic institutions and procedures and securing different people's ability to live together peacefully. Externally, in addition to national defence, the security sector may be involved in cooperation and joint actions within collective defence systems and/or in international peace missions for conflict prevention and solving, and also post-conflict rehabilitation.

3.       Each of these tasks must be reflected in assignments and missions for specific components of a country's security structure. Ideally the above should be based on a comprehensive policy concept, and in their totality, they must address every aspect of security, both internal and external. All components of the security sector should be made accountable for the fulfilment of their missions. This raises the issue of oversight of the security sector which, in a democratic state and in a community of democratic states, must necessarily refer to democratic institutions and procedures.

4.       Democratic oversight of the security sector entails a variety of specific tools aimed at political accountability and transparency. These instruments consist of constitutional principles, legal rules and institutional and procedural arrangements, as well as more general endeavours to shape proper interrelations between, on the one hand, the different components of the security sector and, on the other hand, the political powers (executive, legislative and judicial), as well as representatives of civil society (e.g. NGOs, media, political parties). Parliamentary oversight is one of its very important elements, but is not the only one.

5.       The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, mindful of the overarching concern of the Council of Europe for the proper functioning of democratic rule, recommends that the Committee of Ministers prepare and adopts a convention or a recommendation to governments, covering political standards, norms and practical guidelines for the implementation of the principle of democratic oversight of the security sector in member states.1

Signed : 2

Čekuolis, Lithuania, LDR

Atkinson, United Kingdom, EDG

Bērzinš, Latvia, NR

Blaauw, Netherlands, LDR

Burbienė, Lithuania, SOC

Chapman, United Kingdom, EDG

Cilevičs, Latvia, SOC

Danieli, Italy, LDR

Dmitrijevas, Lithuania, SOC

Dobelis, Latvia, EDG

Druviete, Latvia, EPP,

Fehr, Switzerland, LDR

Gentil, Switzerland, SOC

Gross, Switzerland, SOC

Hancock, United Kingdom, LDR

Holovaty, Ukraine, LDR

Jakič, Slovenia, LDR

Laakso, Finland, UEL

Labucka, Latvia, EPP

Lachnit, Czech Republic, SOC

Leibrecht, Germany, LDR

Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, Germany, LDR

Livaneli, Turkey, SOC

Lloyd, United Kingdom, SOC

Lobkowicz, Czech Republic, EPP

Loutfi, Bulgaria, LDR

Lydeka, Lithuania, LDR

Öhman, Sweden, SOC

Olekas, Lithuania, SOC

Oliynyk, Ukraine, UEL

Piscitello, Italy, LDR

Schmied, Switzerland, LDR

Severinsen, Denmark, LDR

Stankevič, Lithuania, LDR

Stoica, Romania, LDR

Støjberg, Denmark, LDR

Truu, Estonia, EDG

Vahtre, Estonia, EPP

Vareli i Serra, Spain, LDR

Vesselbo, Denmark, LDR

Zvarych, Ukraine, EDG


1        In this context, it would be helpful to mention the work do the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), whose Foundation Council comprises the governments of 35 member states of the Council of Europe. DCAF encourages and supports states and non-state governed institutions in their efforts to strengthen democratic oversight and the reform of the security sector, and also promotes international cooperation in this field.

2        SOC: Socialist Group

      EPP: Group of the European People’s Party

      EDG: European Democratic Group

      LDR : Liberal, Democratic and Reformers’ Group

      UEL: Group of the Unified European Left

      NR: not registered in a group