Expected Council Action
At the initiative of Australia, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous will brief on cross-cutting thematic issues in UN policing. The Council will also hear from three heads of police components of UN missions. The adoption of the first stand-alone resolution on UN policing is the likely outcome.
In February, the Secretariat promulgated its Policy on UN Police in Peacekeeping Operations and Special Political Missions, which defines policing as “a function of governance responsible for the prevention, detection and investigation of crime; protection of persons and property; and the maintenance of public order and safety”.
Although UN police are deployed in most peacekeeping operations and policing tasks more broadly are included in many of the Council’s country-specific mandates, the Council has not discussed the subject except as part of wider discussions on peacekeeping or peacebuilding. For example, resolution 2086 of 21 January 2013 emphasised the importance of strengthening the rule-of-law institutions of the host country and helping national authorities develop critical rule-of-law priorities and strategies to address the needs of police, judicial institutions and corrections system.
Along the same lines, resolution 2151 of 28 April on security sector reform, noted the important role that UN police can play in “supporting, and coordinating international support for, reform of national police institutions and building police capacity in a comprehensive way that emphasises a community-oriented approach and inter alia builds strong governance, oversight and accountability mechanisms within the framework of a functional judicial and corrections system”.
Discussions among Council members focusing specifically on UN police have taken place mostly in the Working Group on Peacekeeping, illustrating the usefulness of that forum to tackle issues that are not getting the attention of the Council as such. On 17 October, the Working Group, under the chairmanship of Ambassador Eugène-Richard Gasana (Rwanda) held a meeting on the multi-year strategy for UN police. The Police Adviser, Stefan Feller, briefed the Working Group on the strategic priorities for UN police: a focus on field missions, prudent and effective management, holistic doctrine and consistent training and the development of partnerships in order to maximise impact. Previously, on 15 November 2013, under the chairmanship of Ambassador Masood Khan (Pakistan), the Working Group discussed the role of UN police in peacekeeping operations and its related challenges and opportunities, including its role in addressing organised crime and emerging threats.
The first police officers deployed in a UN peacekeeping operation were mandated by resolution 143 in 1960 and served in the UN Operation in the Congo. As of 30 September, 12,516 police officers were serving in 13 peacekeeping operations and six special political missions.
In early missions, police officers were deployed primarily as observers, but UN police undertook increasingly complex tasks with the surge in peacekeeping in the 1990s. Following the signature of the Dayton Agreement in 1995, the Council established a 1,721-strong UN International Police Task Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 1999, the first Formed Police Unit—a cohesive mobile police unit that provides support to UN operations, primarily in public-order management—was deployed in Kosovo. Civilian police—its name was changed to UN police in 2005—contributed to the implementation of executive mandates in Kosovo and East Timor. In 2006, the UN created a 40-member Standing Police Capacity based in Italy that became operational by October 2007 with a mandate to be rapidly deployed to help set up the police component in UN missions.
In 2011, the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations requested the Secretary-General to prepare a report on the functioning of the Police Division of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the challenges faced by the police components in peacekeeping missions (A/66/615). The report identified a number of challenges, such as the need for standardised pre-deployment training including developing expertise to deal with the protection of civilians, sexual and gender-based violence and similar issues; the delivery of coherent and consistent advice and support to host-state counterparts; the inability to recruit and deploy appropriately experienced and qualified police personnel on a timely basis and unpredictable international funding for police reform projects.
Enhancing the Council’s own understanding of the opportunities and challenges of policing performed in UN field missions is a key issue.
The impact of this understanding on the timing and design of peacekeeping mandates is a related issue.
Ensuring that there is system-wide coherence in the way UN policing is conducted and that practical steps are taken by the Secretariat to improve coherence is a further related issue.
Options for the Council in adopting a resolution include:
- stressing the crucial role and added value of UN policing in peacekeeping and post-conflict peacebuilding;
- recognising the key role of UN policing in protecting civilians and in pursuing thematic issues such as women, peace and security;
- urging the Secretariat to continue expanding the range of police contributors and promoting the deployment of female police officers;
- recalling the importance of establishing realistic mandates and allocating enough resources to ensure their implementation;
- highlighting the importance of pre-deployment and in-theatre training for UN police as a way of ensuring their common standards in implementing Council mandates;
- stressing the need for all UN mandated police components to operate within strict observance of international humanitarian and human rights law; and
- acknowledging the importance of national ownership and demand-driven approaches to UN policing, while preserving a principled action.
Council and Wider Dynamics
This will be the first time heads of police components of UN missions brief the Council. Since 2010, the Council has received an annual briefing by force commanders on cross-cutting operational issues in UN peacekeeping. According to the report of the Finnish workshop for newly elected Council members, held on 21-22 November 2013, some Council members cited the annual briefing by the force commanders as a model for Council meetings because of the substance of the topics discussed and the interactivity allowed by the format. As an outcome of the workshop, it was agreed that a similar briefing would take place with heads of police components when they visit New York in November (S/2014/213).
There seems to be widespread agreement among Council members about the timeliness of this discussion given the frequency with which the Council authorises the deployment of police officers within UN missions and includes policing tasks within its mandates. However, in previous negotiations on issues related to the continuum between peacekeeping and post-conflict peacebuilding (such as security sector reform) at least one Council member opposed routine inclusion of rule-of-law-related tasks (like policing) in all Council-mandated missions.
As of 30 September there were 89 police-contributing countries, but just the top ten (Council members Jordan and Rwanda among them) contribute more than 60 percent of UN police personnel.
UN DOCUMENTS ON UN POLICING
|Security Council Resolutions|
|28 April 2014 S/RES/2151||This was the first-ever stand-alone resolution on security sector reform.|
|21 January 2013 S/RES/2086||Emphasised the relationship between peacekeeping and peacebuilding.|
|Security Council Letters|
|21 March 2014 S/2014/213||This was the final report of the Finnish workshop “Hitting the Ground Running”.|
|30 December 2013 S/2013/786||This was a letter by Pakistan with a report of the activities of the Working Group on Peacekeeping in 2013.|
|General Assembly Document|
|15 December 2011 A/66/615||This was a report on UN police.|
|1 February 2014 Ref. 2014.01||This was the DPKO/DFS Policy on UN Police in Peacekeeping Operations and Special Political Missions 2014|
USEFUL ADDITIONAL RESOURCE
Police in UN Peacekeeping: Improving Selection, Recruitment, and Deployment, William J. Durch and Michelle Ker, International Peace Institute, November 2013.