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The Rise of Citizen Security in the Americas

Date & Time:
March 12, 2018 | 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Gallery Hall, Taylor Family Digital Library, University of Calgary
Dr. Robert Muggah, Research Director, Instituto Igarape

Robert Muggah is a specialist in cities, security, migration and new technologies. He co-founded the Igarapé Institute - a think and do tank working on data-driven safety and justice across Latin America and Africa, where he is currently the director of research. He also co-founded the SecDev Foundation and Group - organizations devoted to cyber security and the digital economy, especially in the Middle East and Eurasia, and South Asia regions. He consults with governments, the UN, World Bank and firms ranging from Google to McKinsey. He is known for designing award-winning interactive data visualizations that track the global arms trade, homicidal violence, fragile cities, and climate change. He has also developed open source body cameras for police accountability and predictive crime dashboards.

Latin American and Caribbean societies are among the most violent on earth. With some exceptions, the problem appears to be worsening. Why? There is not one, but several explanations that account for the steady increase in violent crime across the region. In addition to widespread impunity and jarring inequality, a major part of the problem is connected to 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 expanded the focus of public security measures from a narrow preoccupation with safeguarding state institutions to encompass a wider concern with guaranteeing 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 on youths. While hard 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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