Reinforcing the Rule of Law and Human Rights in Mexico through U.S. Special Operations Forces Missions

18 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2014  

Kevin H. Govern

Ave Maria School of Law; California University of Pennsylvania; John Jay College

Date Written: Fall, 2013


This article will assess the roles and responsibilities of Special Operations Forces (SOF) within Mexico, as an active proponent of a so-called "smart power" national security strategy. In particular, it will outline the economic, political, and military challenges faced in Mexico, and specifically how and why SOF, under the new Special Operations Command Northern Command (SOCNORTH), should become the U.S. force of choice for promoting the rule of law and human rights in Mexico. With the goals of the U.S. military in mind, questions will necessarily arise as to "what success looks like" for both the United States and Mexico and the roles of each in joint and combined civil-military initiatives. Concluding comments reflect on how these forces must model "what right looks like," and the imperative that SOF operations in Mexico meet legal and doctrinal criteria for successful mission accomplishment.

Keywords: Rule of Law, Human Rights, Mexico, Smart Power, Soft Power, Hard Power, Special Operations Forces, SOF, Civil-Military, Northern Command, NORTHCOM, Special Operations Command Northern Command, SOCNORTH

JEL Classification: H56, K33, O54, N16, N26, N46

Suggested Citation

Govern, Kevin H., Reinforcing the Rule of Law and Human Rights in Mexico through U.S. Special Operations Forces Missions (Fall, 2013). NAFTA: Law and Business Review of the Americas, Vol. 19, No. 4, 2013. Available at SSRN:

Kevin H. Govern (Contact Author)

Ave Maria School of Law ( email )

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Naples, FL 34119
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(239) 687-5390 (Phone)

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California University of Pennsylvania ( email )

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California, PA 15062
United States
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John Jay College ( email )

524 West 59th Street
New York, NY 10019
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(845) 234-8532 (Phone)


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