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9.0 | 2017
Alternative Pathways to Sustainable Development
Alternative Pathways to Sustainable Development. Lessons from Latin America

The Rise of Citizen Security in Latin America and the Caribbean

Robert Muggah


Latin American and Caribbean societies are among the most violent on earth. The problem appears to be worsening. Why? There is not one, but several explanations accounting for the steady increases in crime and victimisation across the region. In addition to jarring inequality and chronic impunity, a major part of the problem stems from repressive and punitive approaches to tackling criminality. More positively, a new generation of home grown ‘citizen security’ measures has emerged in recent decades. These interventions expand the focus of public security measures from a narrow preoccupation with safeguarding state institutions to encompass a wider concern with preserving the safety and rights of citizens. Taken together, they include strategies to reform law enforcement, criminal justice, and penal systems together with violence prevention activities focused on at-risk families and youth. While hard scientific evidence of their effectiveness is still in short supply, citizen security represents a positive evolution of thinking in an otherwise staunchly conservative domain.

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Editor's notes

Paperback reference: Muggah, R. (2017, forthcoming) ‘The Rise of Citizen Security in Latin America and the Caribbean’ in Alternative Pathways to Sustainable Development: Lessons from Latin America, International Development Policy series No.9 (Geneva, Boston: Graduate Institute Publications, Brill-Nijhoff).


Electronic reference

Robert Muggah, « The Rise of Citizen Security in Latin America and the Caribbean », International Development Policy | Revue internationale de politique de développement [Online], 9.0 | 2017, Online since 28 May 2017, connection on 20 September 2017. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/poldev.2377

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About the author

Robert Muggah

is a political economist specialised in security, cities, new technology and development. He co-founded and directs think tanks in Latin America and North America and has led research in over 50 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Europe and Asia. Robert is the author or editor of six books and over one hundred peer review articles. He has delivered talks at Davos, TED and the Web Summit, publishes regularly in El País, The Guardian (UK), O Globo and The New York Times and earned his DPhil at the University of Oxford and his MPhil at the Institute for Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex.

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Creative Commons License
International Development Policy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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