Peacekeeping’s Poor Cousin: Canada and the Challenge of Post-Conflict Policing
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This paper examines Canadian experiences, policies, and practices with regard to police reform – a key element of the security sector reform agenda – in post-conflict or failed states. While an entire mythology has developed around Canada’s role as originator and long-standing champion of peacekeeping in its military guise, less attention has been paid to policing as the second core pillar of security in transitions from conflict to peace. This is gradually changing, as the limitations of military peacekeepers as agents of peacebuilding become more evident, and as it is increasingly recognized that building sustainable peace in the absence of minimal levels of public security is next to impossible. In many ways, post-conflict police assistance – including the provision of international civilian police for monitoring or law enforcement roles as well as longer-term training and institutional development assistance – is an issue tailor-made for Canadian foreign policy, combining national commitments to human security, to peacebuilding, and to the export of core Canadian values such as peace, order, and good government. However, while Canada’s contributions in this area to date are far from negligible, neither has it been an international leader. The paper will assess Canada’s contributions, and the possibilities for greater Canadian involvement, in this area. It will consider both domestic and international obstacles to a greater Canadian role – such as chronic personnel shortages, interdepartmental politics, and the hodgepodge of inadequately coordinated institutional actors already active in the field – and examine ways in which some of these challenges might be overcome.