Academic journal article Strategic Forum

Policing the New World Disorder

Academic journal article Strategic Forum

Policing the New World Disorder

Article excerpt


* Barring a fundamental alteration in the character of the post-Cold War environment, the international community will continue to mount multinational peace operations in which ultimate success requires dealing effectively with the public security function.

* While the fundamental lessons have been identified, the same deficiencies often persist, demonstrating that the lessons have not really been learned. Even when there is a major U.S. role, some missions are cobbled together, with military and Civ-Pol elements operating as discrete entities-with only limited coordinated action, a weak public security mandate and inadequate resources.

* The UN has not been given adequate financial or managerial resources for Civ-Pol functions. It continues to suffer delays in recruiting Civ-Pol contingents, and many recruits arrive woefully lacking in essential basic skills and unsuited for coalition operations abroad. This often leaves military elements of the peace mission to confront a "public security gap" for which they are not properly prepared. The aversion to military-civilian police partnership further complicates effective overall operations.


Since the end of the Cold War, traditional inhibitions against intervention by the international community in the internal affairs of states have been increasingly set aside, leaving the world community unsure of how best to restore order to marginally viable states in the grip of violent unrest. Multinational peace operations, with a mandate for establishing and sustaining a secure and stable internal environment, have become a primary tool. The need to separate warring factions and restore public order often require multinational forces comprised of military personnel and UN civilian police (Civ-Pol) or International Police Monitors (IPM). In most cases, indigenous police forces have been destroyed or become so embroiled in the conflict as to be incapable of responsible action.

The initial phase of a typical operation entails bringing conflicting armed factions under control by introducing a cessation of hostilities, zones of separation, and cantonments, as well as impounding weapons, and demobilizing opposing forces. Due to the potential volatility of the process and the firepower available to the combatants, responsibility for this phase belongs to a military contingent. Yet, for the peace mission to fulfill its mandate and successfully depart, indigenous law enforcement must function in a fashion compatible with the country's long-term political and economic revival. Because effective local civilian law enforcement is usually lacking, and the judiciary is in disarray, there is a need for Civ-Pol to perform a broad array of tasks.

The Military-Civilian Police Relationship

Typically, there is a considerable lag between the issuing of a Security Council mandate and the fielding of a Civ-Pol contingent. In contrast, military components can be mobilized more rapidly. Since conditions could deteriorate, a military peace mission will normally be launched without waiting for the Civ-Pol contingent. This creates a "public security gap." The military intervention force may have no choice but to perform vital law enforcement tasks or risk jeopardizing the credibility of the entire mission. Most military establishments have not been trained for this. U.S. forces usually prefer to avoid these tasks, but, when needed, discharge them very capably.

Law enforcement functions undertaken by the military contingent are gradually shifted to local police under Civ-Pol supervision. During this transitional phase, there is a premium upon coordination and cooperation between an operation's civil and military elements. In addition to the more routine law enforcement tasks, including support for human rights, election observers, etc., there can be problems with well-armed gangs and violent political intimidation. …

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