San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Citizens to Help Develop Security Plan

President Laura Chinchilla is using an innovative approach to address her central campaign promise of increased citizen security: she’s asking citizens themselves to help draw the roadmap.

Last Wednesday at the Children’s Museum in downtown San José, with over 400 people in attendance, she inaugurated Polsepaz, a process of developing an “Integral and Sustainable Citizen Security Policy and the Promotion of Social Peace in Costa Rica.”

The process is being coordinated by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and involves town meeting-type sessions throughout the country, as well as workshops and a variety of other channels, to collect public opinion.

People can give input on the topic over the next month via a telephone line (800-444-4444), a Facebook page (PolsepazSeguridad Ciudadana), an e-mail address ( and a page on the UNDP website with questions open for comment, documents and other information related to the issue of citizen security and the consultation process (

The UNDP is applying expertise in promoting citizens’ participation in developing security plans and programs gained in similar processes held in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Brazil.

The idea is to bring citizen security measures in line with the democratic aspirations of the country. As the 2009-2010 UNDP Human Development Report states, “Citizen security and justice systems that are intelligent and respectful of the democratic state provide for more genuine and solid security.”

–Sophia Klempner

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