Global policing and transnational rule with law

Benjamin Bowling, James Sheptycki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


This paper advances the ‘rule with law’ concept. After a brief overview of the global policing field and its relationship with law, we use socio-legal theories of policing to examine four examples of law in action: (i) the global money system, (ii) transnational mobility, (iii) intellectual property, and (iv) high policing. These examples illustrate how legal instruments become tools in the hands of public and private social actors operating in the transnational sphere. The paper advances three arguments. First, we argue that global policing practices exemplify rule with law not rule of law. Second, we argue that attempts to codify transnational (criminal) law and procedure must recognise the distinction between ‘law in the books’ and the ‘living law’ as revealed in the practice of transnational policing. Third, we argue that the study of transnational policing should not be restricted to the response to transnational organised crime or defined as coterminous with transnational criminal law. Global policing practices deploy many kinds of public and private law as power tools in the governance of the global system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-173
JournalTransnational Legal Theory
Issue number1
Early online date22 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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