From mission idealism to operational realism
: a study of Norwegian contribution to international police reform missions

  • Maren Eline Kleiven

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This qualitative study has examined the overall Norwegian contribution to international police reform missions (IPRMs using a multiple case study design to compare three different missions whre Noway has contributed relatively significantly over a period of time; the bilateral project in Serbia (JUNO); the multilateral UN mission to Liberia (UNIMIL); and finally the regional EU mission to Afghanistan (EUPOL). The case studies have subsequently been systematically compared through a narrative cross-case analysis where similarities and variations has been categorised into three stages; pre-mission, in-mission and post-mission, using analytical software for qualitative studies. Motives and goals for involvement were identified, subsequently set against the police officers actual experience in each mission, and their understanding of the overall picture in relation to their responsibilities. Substantial empirical research work was undertaken to inform the individual case study's including 99 open ended interviews, consisting of 36 Norwegian police officers (practioners), 21 co-operating partners in the missions and 42 experienced senoir officials working with IRPMs throughout the world. Also, oberservational fieldwork and study trpis to 11 countries were conducted, and a wide range of secondary data was reviewed to ensure reliability and validity throughout the thesis.

The findings suggest that there are severe impediments to achoeve a successful outcome of IPRMs, but that the responsibility cannot be attributed to one organisation or country alone. The experiences of Norwegian police officers deployed to different types of IPRMs paint a picture of an international arena torn between idealism and realism, one characterised by a pragmatic approach focused on action and quantity rather than development and quality. Because of a complete absence of overall doctrines and a system that is not sufficiently well grounded, IPRMs suffer from an absence of long-term strategies, goals, success criteria, and planning. Instead, goals are often vague and over-ambitious, demanding results that promote output rather thanoutcome, consequently at the risk of the individual police officer who operates in adverse operational working conditions. The findings reveals a system that currently fails to recognise the need for better and more extensive planning and preparation for the individual police officer pre-mission, that fails to acknowledge the role and professionalism of the police officers in-mission; and that fails to ensure proper debriefing and reintegration procedures for the police officer post-mission.

International relations theory was used as a basis for the macro-level of this study, but no mid-range theory was found to inform the meso- and micro-level. Herein lies the original theoretical contribution to this field - it aims to inform the development of internationation police science, one that can substantiate a much needed future universal doctrine on international police reform missions.

Date of AwardAug 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorPaul Norman (Supervisor) & Francis Pakes (Supervisor)

Cite this