Monday, April 11, 2011

World Bank: aid should emphasize justice systems, police

The World Bank's 2011 World Development Report calls for directing more aid to the reform of justice systems and strengthening of police, especially in countries experiencing conflict, where poverty rates are higher than in other places. The emphasis on police may seem at first glance like a somewhat odd proposal, but it is not new in development circles. The development-conflict connection isn't particularly my field, but I recall hearing John Richardson talk some years ago about his work on Sri Lanka and he emphasized, among other things, strengthening police forces. How strengthening the police in a country that is descending into or emerging from civil war, or caught in a cycle of violence (as opposed to 'ordinary' crime), helps things is a bit mysterious to me, but apparently it does. I note in this connection that training of the Afghan national police has lagged behind training of the Afghan army, or at least that was the case when I last heard something about it. Presumably a well-trained police force is less open to corruption; however, corruption in Afghanistan seems so deeply ingrained (see Dexter Filkins's piece "The Afghan Bank Heist" in the Feb. 14/21 New Yorker), one wonders whether anything would make any difference. (Cf. also the ongoing Mexican drug wars, which I've not blogged about.)

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