CALL FOR PARTICIPATION: Comparative Approaches to Security Sector Reform, with a special focus on the penal system (March 2014, Sao Paulo)

Do you research security sector reform, especially prisons and police, in developing, post-conflict and transitional country settings? Would you be interested in meeting and working alongside Brazilian colleagues doing the same, to share ideas, methodologies and comparative analysis?

Under the Researcher Links scheme funded by the British Council and São Paulo State Research Council we will be holding a two-day workshop on the above theme in São Paulo on 13-14 March 2014. The workshop’s focus is on career development, international collaboration, network building and peer mentoring. The workshop is being coordinated by Dr Fiona Macaulay of the University of Bradford Peace Studies Department and Dr Renato Lima, of the Brazilian Forum on Public Security, and will have contributions from other leading researchers – Professor Alice Hills of the University of Durham, and Professor Roy King, Emeritus Professor, University of Bangor from the UK, and Dr Fernando Salla, from the Centre for the Study of Violence, University of Sao Paulo, and Dr Túlio Kahn, UNDP consultant and former Chief executive of the Latin American Institute on Crime (ILANUD).

We are now inviting Early Career Researchers from the UK and Brazil to apply to attend this workshop. All travel and accommodation expenses will be covered by the Researcher Links programme. The application form, with more details on the initiative, can be found here and should be sent to Dr Macaulay at f.macaulay@bradford.ac.uk before the deadline of 1 December 2013.

Theme of the event

Security sector reform (SSR) focuses academic and policy-oriented research on how transitional/democratizing states manage public security, rule of law, human rights compliance, and crime. It encompasses discrete research areas, into police, judiciaries, armed forces, transitional justice, and penal practices.

Brazil has developed the densest epistemic and policy community on domestic SSR issues in Latin America, due its size and the challenges of reforming its police forces, prison system (the fourth largest globally) and courts. Although its senior members collaborate in some comparative research networks, adapting and adopting methods and best practice policies from some other regions (Latin America, Europe, North America) for application to Brazilian problems, Brazilian researchers do not frame their research as SSR (seen as a foreign policy enterprise of the global north) or conduct research beyond Brazil. Yet, as an emerging, global power, Brazil is involved in peacekeeping (Haiti), South-South practices of technical assistance to developing regions (Africa), and norm development in the international system. Brazilian researchers would benefit from exposure to comparative work in other post-conflict/transitional regions on which British researchers tend to focus (Middle East, post-Communist countries, Sub-Saharan Africa) due to geographical proximity, colonial ties, UK engagement in military conflicts, and language issues. Post-conflict states are seen as receivers, not generators of SSR technologies that are developed in the global north, yet have mixed results when ‘exported’. However, Brazil and other stable, middle-income Latin American states offer valuable lessons in endogenous, novel or hybridized SSR models.

This workshop brings together Brazilian and UK researchers working on SSR from different disciplines and regions to widen the comparative horizons of both. It focuses especially on the penal system, as a relatively under-researched area in Brazil (prisons are currently a major source of domestic insecurity) and the UK (domestic criminology’s output on prisons remains unconnected to SSR debates).

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