DCAFProject › Police-Military Relations in Peace Operations: Implications for Security Sector Reform

Police-Military Relations in Peace Operations: Implications for Security Sector Reform

International actors must decide how much force they want to employ in multilateral peace operations. They may use force directly, as part of executive operations, or indirectly, by supporting host state security forces as part of security assistance and security sector reform (SSR) programs. Decisions over the use of force are decisions over the type of security forces deployed and supported. The continuum ranges from civilian police officers, which tend to employ minimal force, to regular soldiers, which tend to employ maximal force. Decisions over the use of force and over preferred security forces present international actors with a dilemma. On the one hand, it is important for security forces to be specialized - militarizing the police and policizing the military cause practical problems. Moreover, a convergence of police and military roles may undermine democratic control over security forces and send the wrong message to citizens of war-torn countries. On the other hand, role convergence may be inevitable, in order to manage problems that are beyond the remit of regular military and regular police forces.

The project examines how international actors have dealt with this dilemma. The focus is on three challenges that, particularly in unstable environments, raise questions over the calibration of force: political violence (insurgency and terrorism), violent forms of organized crime, and riots. It focuses on the use of force by four international actors (the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy) in three peace operations (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Afghanistan). This project pursues three objectives. First, it sheds empirical light on how international actors have tried to calibrate the use of force in peace operations. Second, it proposes a tentative explanation of why states often make different choices over the use of force in peace operations. A distinction is made between three modes of force pursued by international actors: the warfare mode, versatile mode, and civilian mode. Third, it suggests ways of improving the policing of war-torn countries, and of squaring the convergence of police and military forces with the need for specialization. Preliminary project results have been presented at the 11th ERGOMAS conference in Amsterdam (June 2011), Kabul University (July 2011) and the University of Frankfurt (July 2011).

Researcher: Cornelius Friesendorf, Goethe University Frankfurt and Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF/HSFK), serves as the principal investigator of this DCAF project.