Transnational policing and the end times of human rights

Ben Bowling, James Sheptycki

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Human rights theory and activism in the early twenty-first century grew acutely concerned about the possibility of the end times of human rights in the new global system (Hopgood 2013, Lettinga and van Troost 2013). Both policing and human rights are modern ideas covalent with the modern state. Policing corresponds to the political structure of which it is a part and is that instrument of governance that gives force to law. Absent of policing institutions, law – including human rights law – is nothing; but policing institutions both shape and are shaped by the laws they embody (Bowling and Sheptycki 2015). Given the power that police must possess in order to fulfil their function as upholders of law, a problem arises around how to override those powers if and when they are abused. This problem has at times led to the establishment of bodies independent of police institutions whose job it is to ‘police the police’. This could entail an endless process of appeal to ever-higher powers but for the fact that police have traditionally been a department of ‘the state’ which has, at its apex, some theoretical point of reference to ground a final judgment. Yet, under transnational conditions, policing power has become significantly unfettered from the state. Since the global system is a polycentric power system and is not governed from a generally recognized and agreed institutional point of reference whose authority presides and to which appeals to legality may be registered, transnational police power is effectively above the law (Bowling and Sheptycki 2015).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge International Handbook of Criminology and Human Rights
PublisherTaylor and Francis Ltd
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781317395553
ISBN (Print)9781315679891
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


Dive into the research topics of 'Transnational policing and the end times of human rights'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this