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The risks of supporting rule of law in fragile states

Time (GMT +01) 16:30 18:30


Establishing effective and legitimate policing structures is one of the key tasks in improving Rule of Law. However, the risks involved in supporting police forces in fragile and stateless societies are high.

While police forces around the world are often implicated in corruption and human right violations, in fragile states there is little repercussion for police malpractice making reform particularly challenging. In stateless and war-torn societies, the lack of a centralised authority and prevalence of armed groups and extremist actors limits the influence and reach of security provision. Post-Brexit, there is likely to be even less tolerance among voters and the new government for spending taxpayer’s money on institutions which are potentially involved in terrorism and malpractice.

Key questions included:

  • Is there a case to be made for continuing to support police forces in fragile or stateless societies?
  • How can the risks be mitigated to ensure continued public and political support for these types of interventions?
  • Who should be held accountable for police malpractice if the main source of funding is from donors?

The speakers reflected on these questions through their experience in implementing police support programmes in extremely challenging environments. Nicholas Haslam and Zane Kanderian presented on ASI’s  programme on Access to Justice and Community Security in Syria, which involves support to the Free Syria Police. Julie Leonard presented on PwC’s experience in attempting police reform in DRC.