Mark Ungar

Position: Professor of political science at Brooklyn College and of the Criminal Justice Doctoral Program and the Liberal Arts Masters Program of the CUNY Graduate Center
Campus Affiliation: Brooklyn College
Research Interests: Latin America, security and judicial reform, violence, human rights, international and comparative criminology

Prof. Ungar has written and edited four books and about 30 articles and book chapters on judicial reform, citizen security and policing. He also has worked as an adviser to the United Nations, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Honduras and Mexico. He also works with human rights organizations, serving on a policy committee of Amnesty International USA and of civil rights groups in Venezuela. He has been awarded grants and fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Tinker Foundation, the CUNY Research Foundation, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.


sustaining human rightsKathrine Hite and Mark Ungar, eds., Sustaining Human Rights in the Twenty-First Century: Strategies from Latin America (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013).

These essays take a much-needed look at the course of human rights strategies rooted in the last century’s struggles against brutally repressive dictators. Those struggles continue today across Latin America. Augmented by the pursuit of broader political, cultural, labor, and environmental rights, they hold accountable a much wider cast of national governments, local governments, international agencies, and multinational corporations.

In Sustaining Human Rights in the Twenty-first Century, some of the Western Hemisphere’s leading human rights experts shape and bolster new approaches, from the concepts of rights to transnational efforts, by placing the struggle for rights in historical and comparative perspective. The contributors provide an historical framework, describe formal and legal institutions, and discuss the citizens’ movements and conceptions of citizenship that produce distinct kinds of political identities and struggles.

policing democracyMark Ungar, Policing Democracy: Overcoming Obstacles to Citizen Security in Latin America (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011).

Latin America’s crime rates are astonishing by any standard―the region’s homicide rate is the world’s highest. This crisis continually traps governments between the need for comprehensive reform and the public demand for immediate action, usually meaning iron-fisted police tactics harking back to the repressive pre-1980s dictatorships.

In Policing Democracy, Mark Ungar situates Latin America at a crossroads between its longstanding form of reactive policing and a problem-oriented approach based on prevention and citizen participation. Drawing on extensive case studies from Argentina, Bolivia, and Honduras, he reviews the full spectrum of areas needing reform: criminal law, policing, investigation, trial practices, and incarceration.

Finally, Policing Democracy probes democratic politics, power relations, and regional disparities of security and reform to establish a framework for understanding the crisis and moving beyond it.

violence and politicsKenton Worcester, Sally Avery Bermanzohn, and Mark Ungar, eds., Violence and Politics: Globalization’s Paradox (Routledge, 2011).





elusive reformMark Ungar, Elusive Reform: Democracy and the Rule of Law in Latin America (Lynne Rienner, 2001).

Elusive Reform explores one of the Latin American countries’ biggest challenges: establishing a rule of law. Based on a close examination of historical patterns, it demonstrates how executive power and judicial disarray thwart progress toward judicial independence, state accountability, and citizen access to effective means of conflict resolution. Ungar critiques the wide spectrum of agencies responsible for enforcing the law, from the police and prisons to provincial governors, the attorney general, and the judiciary itself. He similarly analyzes the region’s most recent reform innovations, among them judicial councils, national ombudsmen, and community justice forums. Although his focus is on Argentina and Venezuela, he presents valuable material on other Latin American countries, particularly Bolivia. Exposing many overlooked vulnerabilities of Latin America’s democratic institutions, Elusive Reform broadens our understanding of democracy itself. Ungar explores one of the Latin American countries’ biggest challenges: establishing a rule of law.

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