Criminalized Power Structures:The Overlooked Enemies of Peace 

In Criminalized Power Structures: The Overlooked Enemies of Peace we provide extensive documentation from ten case studies that Criminalized Power Structures (CPS) are the predominant spoilers of peace and stability operations. This core challenge is chronically overlook (our cases average a 5-year delay), squandering the “golden hour.” We describe actionable steps to address this recurrent threat that require no new revenue sources. The most basic step is to stop overlooking the problem through proper assessment and implementation of appropriate strategies tailored to the three different types of CPS (i.e., irreconcilables, violent opponents with negotiable interests, and supporters such as Hamid Karzai and Nouri al-Maliki). The central finding of these works is that conflict transformation, with its three “ways,” contains the correct mix for dealing with CPS, with all three ways needed, but, depending on the type of CPS, one line of effort should be primary.

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This volume describes 17 tools available to practitioners to cope with the challenges posed by criminalized power structures (CPS) along with recommendations for improving their efficacy and an enumeration of the conditions essential for their success. The tools range from assessment and planning, economic sanctions, and border controls to the use of social media and criminal intelligence-led operations. Each tool is detailed, explaining how it can be used, which type of CPS it is best suited to address, and what is necessary to ensure success. The use of each tool is illustrated through real life situations, such as international supply chain controls to prevent the looting of natural resources in Western Africa or the intervention of international judges and prosecutors in Kosovo.

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"At last - a piece of revelatory work on the subject of illicit power structures so arrestingly and plainly revealed and their modes of operation described in such compelling detail. I’d like to imagine the sound of brisk footsteps along corridors as senior officials grasping this work make immediate entree to policy-makers’ and junior staffs’ offices demanding major doctrinal changes. Here it is, how to implement effective conflict prevention, manage post-conflict situations, and save millions of dollars." 

Richard Monk, UN Police Commissioner in Bosnia and Kosovo and member of the panel that prepared the Brahimi Report on UN Peace Operations

“I learned a good deal reading these timely volumes, even on the operations in which I was intimately involved. The findings are persuasive and the recommendations are all well considered and compelling.” 

James Dobbins, Former Special Envoy for Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, Haiti, and Somalia

“Criminalized Power Structures: The Overlooked Enemies of Peace persuasively documents the damage done to prospects for peace when illicit wealth meets unscrupulous political power. The case studies show the depth and breadth of that damage in place after place, while Dziedzic’s analysis draws upon years of research and experience to systematically reframe our views of peace ‘spoiler’ motives, goals and means. The result, with its second volume, Combating Criminalized Power Structures: A Toolkit, is wise counsel for dealing with these power structures that any peacebuilding enterprise should heed if it hopes to build the peace that it seeks.” 

William Durch, Distinguished Fellow, The Stimson Center, Washington, DC.

“These volumes perform a vital service in the study of fragile states. Based on ten case histories from four continents, they  demonstrate that criminalized power structures are a key element in promoting instability and describe the circumstances in which these structures can be tamed. Essential reading for policymakers and scholars.” 

John Herbst, Former State Department Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization

“Both volumes provide remarkable insights into criminalized power structures in conflict and post-conflict environments. This often overlooked phenomenon can have immense effects on peacekeeping and stabilization efforts. The volumes provide an important framework and practical insights that may help policymakers to better address these issues.” 

Enrique Desmond Arias, Director, Peace Operations Policy Program, Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University


             As defined in Quest for Viable Peace, conflict transformation “…entails diminishing the means and motivations for violent conflict while developing more attractive, peaceful alternatives for the competitive pursuit of political and economic aspirations.”  This strategy consists of three reinforcing components: 

    Shape the context by dismantling or disrupting CPS so as to neutralize their ability to thwart the peace process. This is not a task indigenous institutions can be expected to discharge. The mission must come prepared to confront the CPS threat itself otherwise the “golden hour” will be squandered and the mission may be placed in jeopardy. This step is often neglected, however, in favor of simply developing institutional capacity and transitioning to national ownership. In the presence of CPS with a high degree of overlap between criminal and political power, neglecting to shape the context first is a fatally flawed strategy. There are potentially replicable principles in the way UNMIK implemented this strategy. First, since UNMIK had to rely heavily on KFOR initially, the two entities needed to establish collaborative civil-police-military decision making and planning mechanisms. Second, at the heart of the strategy was the conduct of joint military and police intelligence-led operations to strike against militant extremists. Third, confronting the impunity of CPS requires the deployment of the full continuum of rule of law capabilities from intelligence to incarceration, and internationals need to arrive prepared to take the lead. Finally, the center of gravity of the economic strategy is to deprive violent obstructionists of their sources of illicit revenue.

    Develop the institutional capacity to resolve disputes peacefully and generate wealth through legal means. Peaceful alternatives include free and fair elections, respect for minority rights, monopoly of force by the state coupled with a mentality of service, rule of law with the capacity to hold the most powerful accountable, and an enabling environment for a market-based economy.

    Nurture safeguards on the exercise of power to ensure that the institutional capacity being developed, especially the security apparatus and judicial system, does not again become an instrument of persecution of the opposition, that public revenue generation and expenditure are not captured by political-criminal networks, and that illicit revenue does not determine who governs. Essential for this purpose are the ability to observe governmental performance (transparency) and punish misconduct (accountability). Processes linked to the state, such as competitive elections that permit alternation in power, an autonomous judiciary, and independent oversight mechanisms for the security sector, are necessary but not sufficient. A vibrant civil society is also required including a free press, non-governmental organizations dedicated to exposing corruption and shielding whistle blowers, and an independent intellectual community. Another critical innovation has been the recognition that the timeline for developing civil society as an effective check on capture of the state by CPS is longer than the first two components of this strategy. Accordingly the European Union Rule of Law Mission Kosovo (EULEX) took over the task of fostering the rule of law from UNMIK in 2008. 


Policing the New World Disorder



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     “Haiti: Confronting the Gangs of Port-au-Prince,” with Robert Perito, USIP Special Report 208, September 2008

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Policing from above