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Promoting Justice in a Time of Friction: Scandinavian Penal Exports

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Norway's police work in the UN operation in South Sudan. Photo: UNMISS (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

About the project

The Scandinavian states export criminal justice through their foreign policy and international aid on issues ranging from prison and judicial reform to women’s rights, and in locations as vast as Afghanistan, Colombia, Kosovo, Myanmar, and Uganda. Yet, the role of ‘penal exports’ and what it says about Scandinavian penal power, foreign policy, and position(ing) in the international order has never been explored. Research in criminology rarely considers Scandinavian criminal justice outside the context of the Scandinavian welfare state; international relations give scant attention to penal power in foreign policy; and within the sociology of international law, there is an urgent need to consider the resilience of the liberal international order in a time of friction – including the role of justice promotion therein.


To develop criminological theory on how penal power travels beyond the nation state, JustExports combines theory in international relations and international law to explore the overall research question ‘How do Scandinavian states engage in penal exports?’ through three sub-questions

  1. How do penal exports travel?
  2. What are similarities and differences in Scandinavian states’ foreign policy use of penal exports
  3. How do geopolitical changes shape the use of penal exports in Scandinavian states’ foreign policy and international aid?

These questions are analyzed in work packages exploring different fields of exports:

  1. WP #1 provides a discursive overview of how Scandinavian penal exports travel by developing an open access database on Scandinavian penal exports;
  2. WP #2 delves into a case of penal exports to the national level, such as Scandinavian rule of law development in Ukraine; and
  3. WP #3 explores a case of penal exports to the international level, such as Scandinavia's role in international criminal justice.


JustExports provides a knowledge base for civil servants to assess foreign policy and the challenges of the liberal international order by providing them with increased knowledge about how policies are produced, travel, and with what effects. The project emphasizes stakeholder involvement and contributes to Sustainable Development Goals 16 (SDG 16).


JustExports is financed by the Norwegian Research Council’s FRIHUMSAM Research Scheme on Young Research Talents and has been granted NOK 8,0 mil.


JustExports’ international partners are:

  • University of Copenhagen, with Professor Mikkel Jarle Christensen
  • Stockholm University, with Professor Vanessa Barker

Ongoing publications


Book: Nordic Criminal Justice in a Global Context, Mikkel Jarle Christensen, Kjersti Lohne and Magnus Hornqvist (eds), Routledge, forthcoming 2022.

Chapter: ‘Nordic Penal Humanitarianism:Status-building, brand alignment, and penal power’ in Nordic Criminal Justice in a Global Context, Mikkel Jarle Christensen, Kjersti Lohne and Magnus Hornqvist (eds), Routledge, forthcoming 2022.

Chapter: Lohne, K (forthcoming) 'Penal Power in International Politics' in Wagner, W. et al. (eds.) Norm Violations and Punishment in International Politics, Oxford University Press.

Published Dec. 22, 2021 2:13 PM - Last modified May 25, 2022 8:48 PM