Global policing efforts go far beyond combatting terrorism. The United States has tracked down war criminals in the former Yugoslavia, prosecuted Mexican drug kingpins in U.S. courts, transferred a Congolese warlord to the International Criminal Court, and even invaded foreign countries to apprehend wanted suspects. Likewise, Chinese police and intelligence forces crisscross the globe engaging in surveillance, abductions, and forced repatriations. But global policing activities are hard to study because they tend to occur “in the shadows.” Extradition treaties—agreements that facilitate the formal surrender of wanted fugitives from one country to another—represent a unique part of the global policing architecture that is directly observable. An original dataset of every extradition treaty that the United States has signed since its independence shows that extradition cooperation is not an automatic response to the globalization of crime. Instead, it is an extension of geopolitical competition. Geopolitical concerns are crucial because many states try to weaponize extradition treaties to target their political opponents living abroad, not just common criminals. Future research should reconceptualize the role of individuals in international security because many governments believe that a single person—whether a dissident, a rebel, or a terrorist—can imperil their national security.

You do not currently have access to this content.