Towards Reliable and Responsible Atrocities-Policing


  • Peter Penz York University



Kosovo, Rwanda, global polity, humanitarian intervention, federalism


As Rwanda and Yugoslavia indicate, atrocities policing ("humanitarian intervention") is, in our current global polity, unreliable and carried out crudely. This becomes apparent when it is compared with domestic policing. It is the result of the system of sovereign states, into which atrocities policing does not readily fit. Even innovation to accommodate it leads to the haphazard interventions we have seen in this decade. But the sovereign state system, which developed in Europe in the context of a particular historical contingency and was then endowed to the rest of the world through decolonization, is not the only possible way of organizing the global polity. Thus, the author offers as an alternative the concept of a democratic global federation in which atrocities policing - including preventative policing - can be conducted in a much more reliable and responsible manner. While such a global political organization may seem utopian, in the long term it is not, given how radical change has been in the past century and can he expected to he in the next one. Moreover, it provides direction to current institutional reform and adds to current decisions about atrocities policing the issue of the longer-term consequences for global practices and institutions.


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How to Cite

Penz, P. (1999). Towards Reliable and Responsible Atrocities-Policing. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 18(3), 15–18.

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