Against the generally disappointing outcomes of international police reform in fragile settings, this article examines a New Zealand-supported community policing programme in post-conflict Bougainville. While the programme’s engagement with the regular police organization has struggled for traction, support provided to an innovative and socially embedded policing initiative has produced promising results. The reasons behind these divergent outcomes and their implications for international policing are explored in the context of Bougainville’s recent history, including the legacies of conflict and the new vision of hybrid policing in the post-conflict political settlement.
Drawing upon recent critiques of the ways in which organised political violence in the global ‘South’ is interpreted and responded to, this paper examines the recent conflict and intervention in Solomon Islands. We argue that standardised liberal templates have served to frame both the aetiology of the Solomons conflict and the manner of its proposed resolution. Australia’s intervention in Solomon Islands can be said to represent the ‘local North’ as it seeks to impose a liberal peace over a ‘deviant’ and ‘unruly’ neighbour. We draw upon published material to highlight the social, cultural and historical contexts of the conflict. We then demonstrate how the ‘off-the-shelf’ intervention, with its emphasis on asserting a liberal peace, fails to account for these complex social dimensions of the conflict. The antinomies of conflict and intervention in Solomon Islands demonstrate how both the liberal interpretation of developing-country conflict and its bedfellow, the liberal peace, attempt to divorce conflicts from their social contexts. In doing so, the demonstrable potential for violent intrastate conflict to result in positive social transformation is reduced.
In this paper we begin by defining and examining the concept of police building. Its historical precedents and contemporary forms are briefly reviewed, showing a variety of motives and agendas for this kind of institution building. We argue that police building has been a relatively neglected dimension of nation- and state-building exercises, despite its importance to functions of pacification and restoration of law and order. The emerging literature on international police reform and capacity building tends to adopt a narrow institutionalist and universalistic approach that does not take sufficient account of the politics of police building. This politics is multilayered and varies from the formal to the informal. Using two case studies focusing on events in 2006 in Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands, the reasons for the fragility of many current police-building projects are considered. In both cases, we argue, police capacity builders paid insufficient attention to the political architecture and milieu of public safety.