2009 saw the first of an ongoing series of National Conferences on public security policy and management. The participatory forum allowed for citizens, civil society organizations, and private professionals to interact and collectively inform public security policy.
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Problems and Purpose
The first edition of the National Conference of Public Security (Conselhos Comunitários de Segurança, CONSEG) was organized by the Brazilian Federal Executive Branch in 2009 to acheive effective social participation, accountability and ongoing interaction between participants, social movements, civil society organizations, and public administration workers. The innovation in this conference proposed itself to mobilize social participation in the public policies debate on public security, subject historically treated by managers and specialist.
Background History and Context
Faced with a traditional policy and its clientelistic practices coupled with the increasing erosion of representative structures, the emergence of new collective actors allowed a greater visibility of participation processes in public management. In other words, discontent with the result of the implemented policies and the progressive exclusion of a portion of the population from the enjoyment of their right as citizens, contributed for the rising of the claims on participation, which, in a growing form, ended changing the society-State relation, between public and private, and the scientific and popular.
From this scenario, the first National Conference on Public Security (CONSEG) was the result of 88 ́s CF elaboration, after its definition on public security as a fundamental social right. However, differently from the others expected social rights, such as health care and environment, public security weren't included in a participatory co-management system that, through instrument such as conferences and institutionalized councils, shared, between State and society, the responsibility to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate actions.
Thereby, the Ministry of Justice - MJ, aware of the necessity to open itself to the democratic exercise, and, after a deep ripening on the possible paths, convoked the first National Conference on Public Security, deliberative space opened to the three segments: Society, Public Power and Workers in the Area of Public Security, whose objective was, in addiction to define the principles e directives for national security, to consolidate the instruments for social participation in the public security sphere.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The follow-up of the work of CONSEG began in the internal debates for the formulation of the conference in the Ministry of Justice under the guidance of the General Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic. In 2008 more than 250 entities representing the Public Power, civil society and public security professionals met at the National Preparatory Forum of I CONSEG, assisting the Ministry of Justice in the preparation of an inaugural document that would dictate the guidelines for the formulation of the text-base. They also agreed on the creation, in a transparent way, of the National Organizing Committee (CON), a deliberative instance of the conference, giving greater legitimacy to the process of organizing and building the agenda process. The members of the NOC are also based in civil society, public security workers, specialists in the area and representatives of other powers.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Being part of the preparatory debates, represented by the National Organizing Commission, instituted by No. 1,883, from October 8, 2008, of Justice Ministry, were 34 sectors distributed among civil society, public security workers, institutional managers and collegiate organs of the Powers Judiciary and Legislative, in addition to the Public Ministry. In other words, from the outset, conditions for tripartite intervention were created in the construction of the CONSEG agenda. From the federative pact point of view, the Conference took advantage of the same system already adopted for the National Program of Public Security with Citizenship (PRONASCI) - which is aimed at preventing, controlling and repressing crime, acting on its socio-cultural roots, in addition to articulating public security actions with social policies through the integration between the Union, states and municipalities - and the Unified Public Security System (SUSP), coordinated by the Justice Ministry, making it an environment of integration, cooperation and political agreement between institutions and civil society based on federal solidarity, as defined in the Internal Regulation of the I CONSEG (RI / CONSEG), approved by Administrative Rule no. 2,482, of December 11, 2008, of the Minister of Justice, and practiced during the stages the conference.
CONSEG was carried out in preparatory, elective and national stages, each with their own form of participant recruitment and selection. The preparatory stages, including those convened by Municipalities, organized by civil society groups or individuals ('Free Conferences'), and the online 'Virtual Conferences' and thematic seminars were open to all interested parties.
The elective stages, were open to elected representatives of the municipalities of PRONASCI or 200,000 or more voters, and they could join a consortium to guarantee their realization. The first of the elected stages, the state stage, saw the participation of those of the previous stage as well as an elected civil society representative, a representative of each municipality, and an elected representative from the municipal guard. Representatives for the national stage were elected from those participating in the state stages according to the amount of inhabitants. If the municipal or state powers did not call the elective stages on time, civil society leaders or workers could do so.
Methods and Tools Used
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Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction
CONSEG was carried out in three stages: preparatory, elective and national. The preparatory stages, although they did not elect delegates for the other elective stages, were instruments of participation expansion, where the main focus were discussion, debate and deliberation of ideas, not mere approval. Any municipality with less than 200,000 voters that were not members of PRONASCI could constitute preparatory stages. Any grouping of civil society, workers or the public power itself may institute Free Conferences as a preparatory stage, as well as any person could participate in the Virtual Conference on CONSEG’s website or thematic seminars with consultative character to further expand the participation and deliberation of the themes.
For the elective stages, it was held the election for representatives of the municipalities of PRONASCI or 200,000 or more voters, and they could join a consortium to guarantee their realization. The municipalities that carried out their elective stages sent directly to the national stage a elected civil society representative society and a representative of the indicated municipal public power, in addition to sending an elected representative among the workers of municipal guard for the state stage. In the state stages representatives were elected for the national stage according to the amount of inhabitants. If the municipal or state powers did not call the elective stages on time, civil society leaders or workers could do so.
The decisive stages seemed to be controlled to ensure that the debate was conducted and that the voters representativeness was equal among the actors of the various divisions. Ultimatelly, the most important and decisive, where the real political game is set, is during the debate. Therefore, the concern for the access to be effectively open and inclusive.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The plurality of the origin of the actors was of fundamental importance for the success of the CONSEG. By allowing society, managers and security workers to talk, it has already been a major breakthrough in and of itself.
In the distribution of the representatives we have already had the wide participation guaranteed, with representatives of the civil society, representatives of the professionals of the area of public security and representatives of the public power. In addition to each of these categories also had a guarantee of representation in new cleavages, such as: the municipal, state and federal spheres; categories of workers such as police officers, firefighters, municipal guards, penitentiary agents, experts, ombudsmen, courts, officers, judges, prosecutors, agents and delegates; and even in civil society with different shades: discussion forums on public security, OAB, human rights movements, ONGs, Church, Freemasonry, universities and colleges.
CONSEG followed parameters that combine objective criteria that maximize representativeness, namely: civil society was represented primarily by networks, organizations and national movements or with broad capillarity and power of articulation in the debate on public security; professionals in public security were appointed by the respective associations or federations of national unions of the most varied segments; the Public Power, besides contemplating all spheres of the federation, indicated managers directly involved in the subject, besides representatives of the Legislative, Judiciary and Public Prosecution Powers.
The ONG was responsible not only for organizing guidelines and legitimating the broadest range of thoughts, but served as a mediator of rules and conflicts, establishing a plural methodology, articulating and mobilizing its foundations, creating an environment conducive to dialogue among the participating categories , committing each one and making all sectors responsible for the success of CONSEG.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
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National Public Policy Conferences (Brazil)
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