Establishing the Rule of Law in Weak and War-Torn States: Evidence from a Field Experiment with the Liberian National Police

95 Pages Posted: 3 Jan 2018 Last revised: 23 Dec 2018

See all articles by Robert Blair

Robert Blair

Brown University; Brown University - Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Sabrina Karim

Emory University

Ben Morse

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Political Science

Date Written: December 23, 2018

Abstract

How to restore citizens' trust and cooperation with the police in the wake of civil war? We report results from an experimental evaluation of the Liberian National Police's (LNP) "Confidence Patrols" program, which deployed teams of newly-retrained, better-equipped police officers on recurring patrols to rural communities across three Liberian counties over a period of 14 months. We find that the program increased knowledge of the police and Liberian law, enhanced security of property rights, and reduced the incidence of some types of crime, notably simple assault and domestic violence. The program did not, however, improve trust in the police, courts, or government more generally. We also observe higher rates of crime reporting in treatment communities, concentrated almost entirely among those who were disadvantaged under prevailing customary mechanisms of dispute resolution. We consider implications of these findings for post-conflict policing in Liberia and weak and war-torn states more generally.

Keywords: police, security sector reform, rule of law, post-conflict reconstruction, Africa, field experiments

Suggested Citation

Blair, Robert and Karim, Sabrina and Morse, Ben, Establishing the Rule of Law in Weak and War-Torn States: Evidence from a Field Experiment with the Liberian National Police (December 23, 2018). MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2018-8. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3095944 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3095944

Robert Blair (Contact Author)

Brown University ( email )

Box 1860
Providence, RI 02912
United States

Brown University - Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

111 Thayer Street
Box 1970
Providence, RI 02912-1970
United States

Sabrina Karim

Emory University

Ben Morse

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Political Science ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
E53-406
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

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