Skip to main content


Back to Resources

The Military and Law Enforcement in Peace Operations

1 January, 2010



About This Book



1 Introduction

2 The Military, Law Enforcement and Peace Operations
Post-Conflict Security Gaps and International Military Forces
Conceptualising Military Involvement in Post-Conflict Law
Conditions for Military Law Enforcement Support

3 Bosnia-Herzegovina
The EU Takes Over
The Tricky Question of Effectivenes

4 Kosovo
NATO Enters Kosovo
NATO in an International Protectorate
NATO and Serious Crime in Kosovo Before and AfterIndependence

5 Conclusion: Improving Military Support to LawEnforcement
Case Study Findings
Improving Military Contributions to Post-Conflict Law Enforcement
Beyond the Balkans

Final Thoughts


About the Author

About DCAF


For post-conflict stabilisation and peacebuilding efforts to have a chance ofsuccess, security gaps need to be closed. Domestic law enforcement agenciestend to be too weak or unreliable after war to enforce the law and fightserious crime. As a consequence, operations against organised crime, thearrest of suspected war criminals and the protection of minorities depend oninternational intervention forces. Much attention has been paid to domesticpolice reform and the problems of deploying international civilian police.This book examines the under-explored role of international militarymissions in post-conflict law enforcement, with a focus on serious crime.

The military is under pressure to fill security gaps. Yet militaryinvolvement in crime-fighting is problematic practically (soldiers aregenerally not trained and equipped for it), politically (crime-fighting is seenas military mission creep) and normatively (it undermines the delineation ofmilitary and policing functions). Military support of law enforcement poses amajor dilemma in peace operations. Decision-makers continue to strugglewith this dilemma in an ad-hoc fashion, while scholars have so far providedfew empirical accounts. This book focuses on post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina(BiH) and Kosovo. It argues that the pros of military involvement in lawenforcement outweigh the cons, given the continuing lack of strong policeforces, the criminalised nature of contemporary wars and the negativeinfluence of spoilers on stabilisation and peacebuilding efforts. Militarysupport of the fight against serious crime is not sufficient for these efforts tosucceed, but it is necessary.

This book has three objectives. It describes the role of NATO and EUmilitary missions in law enforcement in BiH and Kosovo from the 1990sthrough early 2009, thus filling an empirical knowledge gap. By formulatinga strategy for military involvement in law enforcement, the book also makesa normative contribution to the debate on peace operations. Drawing on,among other sources, interviews in these two ‘international protectorates’,the book shows that military support of the fight against serious crime haslacked effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy, examples of successnotwithstanding. Third, the book adds conceptual value to the debate onpeace operations, by drawing on security governance, Security SectorReform and Security Sector Governance. These concepts help to understandthe military role in post-conflict law enforcement and to guide improvedefforts.