Criminal justice reform in post-conflict environments: a case study of corrections reform in Kosovo

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Post-conflict environments
Corrections reform
Criminal justice reform
Security sector reform
Peace operations

Liberal peacebuilding, external intervention that is designed to establish peace and stability by conducting development and reform activities to establish liberal democratic institutions and increase respect for human rights abroad, has been touted as the solution to intra-state conflict in the post-Cold War era. Many believe that liberal democratic states are less likely to engage in conflict and are more likely to respect human rights. Security sector reform (SSR) is critical in peacebuilding, as poor security creates obstacles for establishing peace and fostering political, economic and social development. Criminal justice reform, a component of SSR, is designed to establish respect for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in post-conflict environments (PCEs). This dissertation explores post-conflict criminal justice reform activities through a case study of corrections reform in Kosovo. Fourteen retired, current, and former Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) employees who participated in corrections reform activities in Kosovo from 1999 to 2006 participated in in-person or telephone interviews for this study. Participants described the dynamics and challenges they experienced while conducting corrections reform activities abroad. Participants’ perceptions about the appropriateness of using UN and Western-developed frameworks in Kosovo and other PCEs were also captured. Building on previous international literature exploring PCEs and peacebuilding activities, this project contributes to the post-conflict corrections reform literature. Many of the findings reflect extant literature documenting the dynamics involved in conducting criminal justice reform in PCEs. These include the importance of tailoring corrections reform activities to the local context, and the need to address corruption and promote gender mainstreaming. Most of the challenges – e.g. a lack of resources, and difficulties in providing safe and secure confinement – are consistent with practitioner-based literature about corrections reform activities in PCEs. The findings also reveal interpersonal dynamics and challenges: most and least rewarding experiences, personal insecurities that arise as a consequence of the work, and “job shrink” that occurs upon returning from mission. Overall, participants support liberal peacebuilding activities as long as the local context, objectives, and timing of the activities are carefully considered at each stage of the process.

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Curt Griffiths
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.