Police Reform in Fragile States: The Role of International Actors

The police represents an essential element of state and social order whose models and practices reflect the relations between state and society. As such, police work is inseparably linked to conceptions of justice and injustice, such as when citizens who have experienced police violence demand a just state.

Support and differences in police reforms

Over the past twenty years, there have increasingly been attempts made to reform repressive and corrupt police forces and bring them to respect human rights and support their citizens. Such reforms have not only been carried out at the national level but likewise at the international and transnational levels. International actors have supported police reforms in many fragile states, at times making use of bilateral approaches and at times operating in connection to United Nations’ missions or, increasingly, by way of regional organizations such as the EU, OSCE, the AU and NATO.

There have, however, been indications that police forces from the donor countries often take differing views as to how reforms should be designed, even in cases when they are confronted with the same local conditions, have the same international mandates and operate under the same international/regional organizations. In this context, past research has not addressed what, exactly, police organizations from donor states do in fragile states, how their practices can be explained, or which effects international aid in the police sector achieve.

This project sets out to fill this research gap. From 2011 to 2015, our researchers focused on international support for the Afghan police sector, adding other states, such as the Ukraine, to the investigation in 2016. We primarily seek to identify the conditions that enable police forces to successfully implement reforms. Results from the first part of the project relating to Afghanistan were made public in a series of forums and have also been published.

  • Friesendorf, Cornelius
Paramilitarization and Security Sector Reform | 2011

Cornelius Friesendorf, Paramilitarization and Security Sector Reform: The Afghan National Police, in: International Peacekeeping, Vol. 18, No. 1, Februar 2011, S. 79-95.

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Militarized versus Civilian Policing | 2011

Cornelius Friesendorf, Jörg Krempel, Militarized versus Civilian Policing: Problems of Reforming the Afghan National Police, PRIF-Report No. 102, Frankfurt/M., 2011.

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Aufstandsbekämpfung und Bürgernähe | 2011

Cornelius Friesendorf, Aufstandsbekämpfung und Bürgernähe: Der schwierige Aufbau der afghanischen Polizei, in Conrad Schetter/Jörgen Klußmann (Hg.), Der Taliban-Komplex: Zwischen Aufstandsbewegung und Militäreinsatz, Frankfurt/Main (Campus), 2011, S. 179-201.

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Recht und Justiz am Hindukusch | 2010

Jörg Krempel, Recht und Justiz am Hindukusch: Plädoyer für einen pragmatischen Umgang mit traditionellen Rechtsstrukturen, HSFK-Standpunkte, Nr. 1/2010, Frankfurt/M.

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Militarisierung statt Bürgernähe | 2010

Cornelius Friesendorf/Jörg Krempel, Militarisierung statt Bürgernähe: Das Missverhältnis beim Aufbau der afghanischen Polizei, HSFK-Report Nr. 9/2010, Frankfurt/M.

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Gefährliche Gemengelage | 2009

Cornelius Friesendorf, Gefährliche Gemengelage. Polizei, Militär und Probleme der Sicherheitssektorreform in Afghanistan, HSFK-Standpunkte, Nr. 4/2009, Frankfurt/M.

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