Policing and (In)security in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Settings: A Review of Perspectives on Policing in Sub-Saharan Africa

Author : Matthew Schwartz
Date : May 2015

Developed for the Knowledge Platform Security and Rule of Law, this paper presents a series of thematic discussions derived from the literature on policing in a number of African countries. Taking a developmental and human security perspective, the paper focuses on the diffuse networks of nonstate and state providers that serve as the primary safety and security providers for a vast majority of communities. Although hybrid policing systems vary in capacity and end-user satisfaction, traditional statutory policing structures are generally characterized by severe dysfunction, politicization, and abuse with impunity. Considering the diverse challenges faced by many national police actors on the continent, the paper questions the efficacy of prevailing state-centric security assistance programs and their overwhelming focus on strengthening “enforcement” capacities. It cautions donors to take a more considered approach to ensure their police assistance activities are supporting the protection, not the predation, of local communities.

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