Intelligence Oversight and Effectiveness in New Democracies

The Case of Brazil


  • Clara Ribeiro Assumpção University of Glasgow, Dublin City University and Charles University in Prague



Brazil, Democratic Transition, Government, Intelligence Oversight, Intelligence Studies, Latin America


Scholarship on the inherent tension between intelligence and democracy has paid limited attention to new democracies, especially those transitioning from military regimes. There, it is more challenging to bring intelligence services under democratic control without sacrificing their efficiency in exchange for oversight. This research note analyses these challenges in the Brazilian case, contributing to the scholarship on intelligence in Latin America. The case study demonstrates that the restructuring of intelligence in Brazil resulted in a spread-out intelligence system with many agencies, aimed at avoiding monopolisation and politicisation with formal oversight mechanisms put in place. Nonetheless, Brazilian society and politicians still do not trust intelligence, and lack a clear understanding of its functions for a democratic state. While intelligence reform in Brazil still has a long way to go regarding intelligence effectiveness and efficiency, it indicates how intelligence reform is a central part of a successful democratic transition.

Author Biography

Clara Ribeiro Assumpção, University of Glasgow, Dublin City University and Charles University in Prague

Clara Ribeiro Assumpção, from Juiz de Fora (Brazil), is a graduate student who received her Bachelor’s degree in “International Relations” at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in 2017. In 2018, she joined the MA in International Security, Strategy and Intelligence Studies taught jointly by the University of Glasgow, Dublin City University and Charles University in Prague. She is currently writing her Master’s Thesis on the (In)Security Implications of Russia’s Security Doctrine. Her interests include regional security studies, gender and security studies, critical terrorism studies, post-soviet studies, disinformation and hybrid warfare, and the relationship between intelligence and democracies.


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How to Cite

Ribeiro Assumpção, Clara. 2020. “Intelligence Oversight and Effectiveness in New Democracies: The Case of Brazil”. Politikon: The IAPSS Journal of Political Science 45 (June). Online:75-89.



Research notes