"Announcement of Insyde’s Award for Creative and Effective Institutions," Remarks by Jonathan F. Fanton
April 17, 2007 | Speech | MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions

It is a great pleasure for me to be in Mexico and here, with you, today.  I see many friends and colleagues in the room who have had long-standing relationships with MacArthur.  We work in 60 countries around the world, but have a special relationship with Mexico, where we have been making grants since 1986 and opened an office in 1991.

Over the years we have supported 322 individuals and organizations in the fields of environment, reproductive rights and health, and human rights and the rule of law.

And as Mexico accelerated its transition to a multi-party democracy, we have increased our investment here.  We believe this is a critical moment in Mexico’s history, a time when the international community should join forces with Mexicans determined to build a stable democracy and a growing economy that distributes the fruits of that growth fairly.

We do not support any ideology or political agenda, but our core principles include: a belief in the centrality of human rights, support for civil society, advocacy for fair and transparent systems of justice, and the promotion of opportunity for all.

A private Foundation like MacArthur depends on civil society to turn its dreams into reality.  We do very little directly.  It is the courage, creativity, compassion, competence and commitment of organizations like Insyde that enable citizens to come together to take hold of their own destiny.

MacArthur currently supports about 1,000 organizations around the world, including leading international groups like the Population Council, Human Rights Watch, World Wildlife Fund.  But it is often young, smaller, local NGOs that reframe the debate, pioneer new models of intervention, provide fresh ways to look at old problems.  To recognize these organizations and help them expand their work, last year MacArthur created an award for Creative and Effective Institutions.

All have to be past grantees so we know their work, all have to be central to MacArthur’s programs, have budgets under $2.5 million, have strong leadership and be ready to move to the next level of effectiveness.

Several hundred organizations around the world are eligible, but only a few chosen.  Last year, Fundar was among the inaugural class.

This year I am pleased that Insyde will be among eight organizations coming to Chicago in early June to accept the award.

MacArthur has supported Insyde since 2005 and it is central to our goal of supporting the growth of an effective, transparent and accountable police force in Mexico.  Greater respect of citizen’s rights is what we all want.

No democracy can survive unless its citizens have faith in its institutions, particularly in its systems of law enforcement and justice.  Crime, corruption, and ineffective policing sap the strength of a nation, and reduce the quality of life for every community.

In recent years, Mexico has suffered a great deal from crime, especially crime related to drug-trafficking.  In 2006, half of those surveyed reported feeling unsafe.  Each week, eleven police officers were killed.  The situation is serious.

The MacArthur Foundation shares the concern that all responsible Mexican citizens feel for this national problem.  We are committed to assist you in finding solutions and productive ways for your police to meet the challenge of rising crime.  Respect for human rights, public trust and cooperation not changes in constitutional protections are the path to a just and safe society.

Insyde is a leader in this vital quest.  As the first independent Mexican organization devoted to police reform, it has opened new possibilities, built creative alliances, and pioneered practical programs to promote change.

While it is not afraid to criticize where it sees problems, Insyde’s approach is to work together with the police to confront institutional weakness, assess what has to be done, and assist in the implementation of change.  Its work is an example of what can be accomplished when civil society and government work together in partnership.

With the support of many other leading human rights groups, such as Fundar and the Red Todos los Derechos para Todos, Insyde is establishing a reputation for boldness, competence, and effectiveness across the nation, and its expertise is now sought as far as Venezuela and Ecuador.

Insyde has built a relationship with the police that is based upon mutual respect of the police and the public citizenry.  In many cases, it is the police forces that approach Insyde for its help and expertise, a testament to its ability to be a constructive critic.
To advance its mission to help build an effective police force that respects the rights of the Mexican people, Insyde will use its MacArthur award to establish the first center for police accreditation in Mexico.  The Center will create standards of best practices to which city managers, police chiefs, and patrol officers will aspire and be held accountable.  At the same time, Insyde will continue its long-standing programs of outreach and technical support that assist police to improve performance and oversight systems, so that participating police forces can qualify for accreditation and earn the respect of citizens.

Insyde gives us hope that the twin goals of a safer Mexico where police respect human rights can be achieved through honest dialogue and partnership between civil society and the police.

We are honored to announce this award in its offices witnessed by colleagues form civil society who make common cause in search for a Mexico that lives up to our highest aspirations.

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