Authors: Rohan Jayawardena, Independent Researcher, Queensland, Australia



States or coalitions may conduct intervention operations to stabilise weak or failing states. Intervening powers often use military or police forces to impose security while development agencies rebuild the affected state’s institutions, including the Rule of Law. However, recent experience suggests that interventions may perpetuate criminal conduct. This paper examines the NATO missions in Afghanistan and other interventions to suggest links between partnering with corrupt or criminal actors and subsequent setbacks in stabilisation. It then proposes strategies by which future intervention forces may mitigate the risks of perpetuating criminal conduct.

The paper asserts that intervention forces may empower criminal actors inadvertently or deliberately. It suggests that criminal allies may offer apparent security gains, and command popular support; and may be the only allies available. However, it concludes that perpetuating crime and corruption undermines the legitimacy of the affected state’s government and the intervention force, and potentially enables state capture. These outcomes may perpetuate violence. The paper suggests that intervention forces may mitigate these risks by setting clear priorities, planning against all potential threats including organised criminals, linking aid to the achievement of governance objectives, delaying transition until the affected state’s institutions are ready, and conducting deep selection of future leaders.

Keywords: Intervention; Rule of law; Corruption, State capture, Sovereignty gap, Relative deprivation.

Vol 2, Issue 2, October 2021