Community Based Policing in Post-Conflict Societies (Academic Panel)

Community based policing (COP) and police sector reforms are high on the agenda of post-conflict countries. It is also prioritized by international donors including the European Union. The point of departure for this is the assumption that increasing the efficiency of police has a positive impact on the security and safety of communities, especially in post-conflict societies, and more so in the context of the globalized nature of various conflicts. Efficiency is a key consideration in neoliberal globalization, and this is extended to the arena of conflict resolution and security sector reforms. Conventional approaches to police trainings have so far yielded little positive results. In this context, adopting a more comprehensive approach to policing and police sector reforms including institutional reforms is being considered as more effective, especially in countries recovering from conflicts. Community based policing is expected to build trust between police and communities and thus stabilize the societies in the longer term. In community based policing police is considered as service providers and citizens are direct beneficieries. This presupposes a high degree of community engagement in police reforms. COP is expected to foster such increased engagement between police and community. In post-conflict societies, COP works towards re-establishing broken relations between the police and communities or renegotiate the power relations between them, or newly establish police system where it had never existed.

However, all conflict/post-conflict situations have their own context specificities – starting from the cause of the conflict, the course of the conflict, the terms of peace, the post-conflict power relations and so on. These contexts are especially complex in multi-ethnic societies and, a one-size-fits-all approach might not be fruitful. Therefore, context specific knowledge production is important for successful conceptualization and implementation of police reforms and COP.

The proposed panel will present preliminary findings from an EU funded (Horizon 2020) research project on COP. Three countries in Eastern Africa – Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan are chosen as case studies. These countries are characterised by various stages, types and levels of conflict. These are also countries experiencing mutual spill-over of conflicts across the borders in one form or other. The questions addressed in the papers include conceptualizations and understandings of COP by various actors – local, national and international, contextual assessments of COP, state-society relations and how this shapes COP, building trust in the context of radical violent conflicts, weak states and corruption in the police sector; police corruption, radicalization and interstate relations.


Paper 1
“Police Corruption, Radicalization and Terrorist Attacks in Mogadishu”
Adam Yusuf Egal, Master student (International Relations), Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)

Recently the emergence of al Shabaab combined with weak state structures has created a challenging environment dazzled by rampant police corruption, radicalization, and terrorism. Most of these issues have been more apparent in Mogadishu than elsewhere in Somalia. This study was carried out to discover the relationship between police corruption, radicalization and terrorist attacks in Mogadishu, reasons behind police corruption, the influence of salary on corruption and contributing factors of radicalization and al Shabaab recruitment. The study found that police corruption plays a major role in facilitating terrorist attacks in Mogadishu. By bribing the police, al Shabaab can easily launch attacks in wellsecured places where government security including the police are present. In the same way, police corruption contributes to radicalize in the sense that Mogadishu police use excessive force, abuse, and physical violence, humiliation against publics and minority clans, which creates a situation of feeling of injustice, discrimination and marginalization, which in turn leads to search for revenge. Through revenge seeking, minorities end up joining al Shabaab, which seems to be the only power that can confront the government and its allies. Irregular/low payments for police was also found exposing officers to slip in corruption acts. Among factors that push people to radicalization and Shabaab recruitment comprise youth political grievance, economic and social grievances. The study proposes that social movement together with relative deprivation/oppression and humiliation-revenge theory can contribute to understanding the process of radicalization and recruitment in Somalia. While organizational theory of police corruption has a significant advantage over the psychological, sociological theories of police corruption presented and discussed in this study.

Paper 2
“Kenya’s Foreign Policy Towards Somalia, 2011-2016: A Contribution to Insecurity”, Clifford Collins Omondi Okwany, Lecturer, University of Nairobi, Kenya and Master student in International Relations, Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)

The study seeks to understand Kenya’s foreign policy towards Somalia since 2011 and the implications for security. In order to understand the increased security situation, the study explains how Kenyan government decisions lead to more al-Shabaab attacks in the country. It shows how the Kenyan government’s miscalculations and reactions towards al-Shabaab attacks leads to radicalization. It also gives an understanding on how the increased insecurity contributes to the sabotage of Kenya’s tourism industry. The study applied qualitative methodology focusing onoperation lindanchi, insecurity, Jubaland policy, diplomatic crisis, extrajudicial killings, nyumbakumi, operation usalama watch, radicalization, Westgate siege, Mpeketoni, Mandera, Garissa and El-Ade attacks and alShabaab. The decision to intervene in Somalia is explained in reference to identities, interests, and logic of action. The study opens the ‘black box’ to give a deeper meaning of insecurity.

Paper 3
“Community-based policing: An Ugandan Interpretation”
Sarah Biecker, Researcher, University of Bremen, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies

The planned paper will investigate police-community-relationships in Uganda. Based on ethnographic fieldwork the paper argues that it is the public who demands the police to be present and active in Uganda. While common understandings of community-based policing usually expect the police to implement this policing strategy, this paper argues the other way around: it is the neighborhood, which implements it. Despite the rather negative image of the police in Uganda and public criticism about corruption, violence, and unprofessionalism, people simultaneously support the institution and provide them with an impressive infrastructure, namely police booths. Police booths are small police posts, built by the neighborhood and fully ran by the police. Neighborhoods do not build these booths as private security places sites, but exclusively for state police. Communities offer land, donate money and material, build the post by their own and finally inform the police to move in. The police then provide the staff and the usual police equipment and start their daily police work.The paper understands these booths as a form of community-based policing, activated by civilians and performed by the police in closed relationship with the community and demonstrates that Ugandans – in spite of all criticism – demand the police explicitly to ’be there’.

Paper 4
Community policing – protecting the citizens or an instrument for surveillance?  The understanding and operationalizing of community policing in Kenya
Stian Lid, Researcher, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Oslo, Norway and Clifford Collins Omondi  Okwany


In this paper, we discuss the development of the understanding and operationalization of community policing. The history and development of community policing in Kenya are examined. Community policing has been a highly-disputed issue in Kenya the last years, due to the contested community policing initiatives which has been implemented as a strategy for preventing radicalization and violent extremism, and increasing the security for the citizens. Two parallel initiatives of community policing are established; “a constitutional framework, and recently Nyumba-Kumi (a Swahili conceptualization of a unified grass root security, providing intelligence to the police)”. We argue that the understanding and operationalization of community policing in Kenya should be understood in the light of the Kenya’s history, culture and the current political, constitutional and security situation. Where the threat of violent extremism appears as crucial.  The paper point out difficulties and opportunities for a successful operationalization of community policing in conflict countries. Various actors as international donors, government, NGO, police, local communities and expert are interviewed. Extensive  literature is applied to draw an explanation and understanding of the strategies put in place by the Kenyan government, and what we can learn from the Kenyan case.

Paper 5
“Trust building between police and community in preventing radicalization and violent extremism”, Ingvild Magnæs Gjelsvik, Researcher and Phd. student, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI)

Historically, states have to a large degree reacted to terrorism and violent extremism with “hardpower” responses through intelligence, surveillance, punitive measures and military interventions. Counter-terrorism has mainly been driven by top-down approaches. Currently, there is a growing understanding among scholars, politicians and policy makers that more “soft approaches” such as increased inclusion of civil society and local communities is also needed to address these challenges in amore holistic and sustainable way. However, effective involvement of communities in national counter-terrorism strategies requires a certain level of trust in the state apparatus within the population. This is particularly relevant for police forces as the police represent and are the public face of the state at the local level. Preventing and countering violent extremism has in many areas increasingly become a part of the police portfolio in addition to law enforcement, crime prevention and public order. This paper is looking at community oriented policing (COP) as one example of a soft approach with the aim of building and strengthening community-police relations and trust. The paper will explore the role of COP in relation to preventing and countering violent extremism and see under what circumstances COP may be effective- or not- in tackling this phenomena.

Paper 6
“Prospects for Community Policing in South Sudan: A Contextual Assessment”
Darley Jose Kjosavik, Professor, Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), email:  and Nadarajah Shanmugaratnam, Professor Emeritus, Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)

South Sudan today is immersed in a civil war that is tearing apart its already fragile social fabric. In 2011 South Sudan became an independent country with the overwhelming support of its ethnically diverse population and the international community. The newest country in Africa was confronted with several challenges, the most important one being that of unifying the ethnically heterogeneous communities into a single national social formation. However, post-independence developments have taken the country into a seemingly endless turmoil in which the two main ethnic groups are at war with each other. This raises fundamental questions about post-independence statebuilding and the creation of an overarching, inclusive national identity. The distinct character of South Sudanese statebuilding is militarization and along with this an increasing trend towards authoritarianism. South Sudanese police has remained as an extension of the military apparatus although efforts have been made to make it a civilian institution that could play a role in promoting law and order and civil peace. However, the ongoing ethnic strife and civil war continue to undermine these efforts. In this paper we seek to shed light on the complexity of the internal conflict and the political and institutional challenges to reforming the police as a community friendly force.


Darley Jose Kjosavik, Professor, Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)

Nadarajah Shanmugaratnam, Professor Emeritus, Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)