Modeling International Police Missions

Randall K. Listrom
International Police Advisor


Nation Building is the process of establishing national identity by the power of the state (Karl Wolfgang Deutsch, 1966). This would include creating a national flag, language, stadiums, and airlines. These are often efforts “to redefine the populace of territories that had been carved out by colonial powers or empires without regard to ethnic, religious, or other boundaries” (Deutsch). The attempt is to bring solidarity to a people that don’t always have a great deal in common.

State Building, on the other hand, is the process of increasing capacity of government to govern. Three dimensions are normally attributed to this building activity: security; political; and economic (Persson, 2012). Though Nation Building and State Building are often used interchangeably, they are distinct activities.

International Police Missions target justice reform (the security dimension), and are only one part of the larger effort at State Building. These Missions focus on increasing the sustainable capacity of a host nation to police the population under the constraints of representative policing. However, though they are only one part of the State Building scheme, security and justice reforms are critical in the overall State Building effort. Citizens must feel both safe and not disenfranchised in order for them to support governance. 

The road to successful Police Missions is one strewn with many potholes. Most venues are emerging from conflict (external and/or internal). Conflict and governmental instability intrinsically lead to corruption and lawlessness. Social and community infrastructure may have been unattended. This environment typically will also be one in which educating the population has been minimized by the previous regime. The result is often an unskilled workforce unconcerned of what future is possible, and relying of corruption and crime for influence and survival.

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