Police reform, like judicial reform or any effort to change an institution, is intensely political. Power distribution and relationships will change, and resistance is only natural and to be expected. Many in the old order will see reform as a direct threat, a zero-sum game, where they stand to lose and others will gain. Reform also implies that what exists or existed is flawed.
People invested in the old structure will not be happy with this conclusion and can be
expected to resist change. There is a built-in tension between the judgement of the United
Nations that it is important to “build on what exists locally and take local ownership
seriously” and the reality that the very need for reform means that what exists locally is inadequate and requires fundamental change.
Understanding how the justice sector actually worked in the State before and during the conflict, and how it should function if the rule of law is to take root, should be a central feature of any peacekeeping operation. This is extremely complex terrain, so each peacekeeping operation should have experts who can analyse the roles of the various key actors in the justice sector— judges, prosecutors, lawyers, court administrators, the police, prison officials, and ministries like justice, interior and defence.
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Connecting the Dots of Justice