When people consider criminal justice careers, they often think of fields like domestic law enforcement or forensics. But there are a number of international opportunities for the criminal justice major as well. Americans interested in international criminal justice careers have the choice to either work through the US government or to work with an international organization such as the United Nations.
Within the US government, there are many opportunities. The most high-profile among these is working for the Central Intelligence Agency or CIA. While many jobs with the CIA are domestically-based, others involve being posted abroad particularly for anyone who works with the Clandestine Service. Agents may spend most of all of their careers abroad working undercover to gather intelligence for the CIA.
Less well known is the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program or ICITAP. Under the auspices of the United States Department of Justice, ICITAP recruits Americans with criminal justice experience to work with foreign governments in developing their own criminal justice systems. This may include anything from work with local law enforcement and community policing to terrorism prevention and investigation and more.
Interpol is the International Criminal Police Organization, and its purpose is to coordinate information and functions between law enforcement agencies worldwide. Interpol focuses on areas such as terrorism, human trafficking, computer crime, art theft, child sexual abuse and drugs among others. Interpol is not a police force in and of itself; instead, it is responsible for managing data and keeping local police forces in contact with one another. One may work on Interpol cases from a domestic location or one may work from one of its international offices.
The United Nations is another possibility for working in international criminal justice. One focus of the UN is enforcing international human rights law and prosecuting war crimes. A number of jobs are available with the UN from gathering witness statements to working at the international criminal court in the Hague and more. The UN also assists local law enforcement and works to prevent kidnapping, helps with border control and more.
To prepare for international careers in criminal justice, students should get a good mix of criminal justice and international experience. Learning a foreign language will be extremely helpful, and a period of studying or working abroad is likely to be necessary as well. Internships for college students are available domestically even for international organizations like Interpol. Some organizations will require prior law enforcement or other criminal justice experience, so students should target the agencies they are most interested in working for and plan a career trajectory that takes the needed experience into account.