Military involvement in law enforcement

30 September 2010 Dale Stephens

Law enforcement is not a task usually undertaken by military forces, at least within domestic legal contexts. Conversely, maintaining or restoring security within dysfunctional or 'post-conflict' areas of operation is a role commonly undertaken by them. Within these latter operations, the skill sets and highly calibrated application of force that are commonly associated with police forces in their law enforcement role are in fact manifested in a decisively military context. This article reviews the experiences and legal frameworks associated with military participation in two separate types of mission, namely UN-sponsored peace operations and unilateral/multilateral stabilization and counter-insurgency operations. It argues that these contexts have demanded a revised interpretative approach to the applicable law, one that is much more sensitive to social and political effect.

About the author

Dale Stephens
Associate Professor at the University of Adelaide Law School

Dr. Dale Stephens is an Associate Professor at the University of Adelaide Law School, Australia and Director of the Adelaide Research Unit on Military Law and Ethics.