Book Chapter


Published 21 February 2014 / By COMPAS Communications

Back to Publications

Enforcement makes law real. Without enforcement, laws are empty words written down in official documents after undergoing a democratic process that gives these rules and regulations the legitimacy to exist. The law is usually enforced by state authorities such as police forces, border guards or military personnel. People who enforce law have – so long as they are ‘on duty’ – a range of powers. Thus, they represent the executive power of the state. Montesquieu argued in The Spirit of the Laws (with reference to Locke’s Second Treatise of Government) that these powers should be administered separately from the other two functions of ‘government’: the legislative and the judicial. With this separation of powers, one branch can check the other and a sort of balanced power is created.


Vollmer, B. (2014) ‘Enforcement’, in Anderson, B. & M. Ketih (eds.), Migration: The COMPAS Anthology. Oxford: Centre on Migration, Policy and Society.