Toward the Development of a Culture of Human Rights in the Police Service of Northern Ireland

Steven T. Engel, Georgia Southern University

In this paper I argue that the proposed reforms of the police in Northern Ireland have the potential of pointing toward a new model of ethnic conflict resolution. In particular, the reforms place human rights at the core of policing in Northern Ireland. Human rights has generally been ignored as a macro-level approach to conflict resolution. While the reform process is still uncertain at present, the proposals themselves offer enough interesting material for analysis. Two particular aspects of the reforms emerge as interesting: 1) a shift in the training of police towards a concern with human rights, and 2 the implementation of multiple oversight bodies for the police. The results of this research provide not only the opportunity to better understand ethnic conflict resolution but also the role of human rights in policing a divided society.

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Updated 05/20/2006