What's In Blue

Posted Tue 10 Nov 2015

Briefing on the challenges of policing within a protection of civilians mandate

On Friday (13 November), the Council will be briefed on the challenges of policing within a protection of civilians mandate. Under-Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous is expected to brief. Other briefers will include: Pascal Champion, Police Commissioner of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO); Charles Bent, Deputy Police Commissioner of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS); and Greg Hinds, Police Commissioner of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). The briefing is expected to give practical examples of the ways in which police components are implementing protection of civilians mandates. No outcome is anticipated.

The briefing comes against the backdrop of significant thinking about the UN’s efforts to conceptualise and implement protection mandates in peace operations, as represented in the past year by the policy on the protection of civilians issued by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support, the report of the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, and the Secretary-General’s implementation report on the High-level Panel’s recommendations, among other analyses.

Policing is viewed as an integral element of the protection of civilians in recent discussions on this issue. In its 17 March report, the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C-34) highlighted the important role that UN policing “can play, where mandated, in consultation with the host state and in collaboration with other components, in supporting host states to uphold their primary responsibility to protect civilians” (A/69/19). The Secretary-General’s implementation report on the High-level Panel’s recommendations underlines the role that support to police, rule of law and security institutions of the host state can play in protecting civilians. And the Secretariat is currently in the process of developing the police strategic guidance framework, to be in place by the end of 2015.

During Friday’s meeting, Ladsous is expected to focus on how UN policing straddles all three tiers described in the protection of civilians policy, in that it supports dialogue and engagement (tier 1), contributes to physical protection (tier 2) and fosters a protective environment (tier 3).

The three Police Commissioners are expected to illustrate different stages and mandates within the policing spectrum. Bent will probably focus on the physical protection that UNMISS provides to about 180,000 internally displaced persons it hosts in protection of civilians sites, as well as mobile protection efforts such as short- and long-duration patrols. Champion will likely focus on the policing strategies in the eastern DRC designed to address a variety of protection challenges in close collaboration with other MONUSCO components and with the Police Nationale Congolaise. Hinds is likely to discuss challenges related to building the institutional capacity of the host state during the Ebola crisis, as well as efforts to prepare the transition of security responsibilities to the government of Liberia by 30 June 2016.

Following the briefings, Council members will make statements and ask questions of the briefers. This is part of an effort to make the discussion as interactive as possible, following the format of the annual briefing with UN Force Commanders, which has been held since 2010. Resolution 2185 on UN policing expressed the Council’s intention to consider holding a meeting annually with the heads of police components; this will be the second year such a briefing has been held.

In preparation for Friday’s briefing, the UK has circulated a concept paper in which it raises several issues that Council members may wish to consider during their interventions.

First, the concept paper poses questions including: how individual police officers coordinate with other mission staff with a protection role (e.g., human rights officers, gender advisers, and child and women protection advisers); how they differentiate their roles from these other staff members in interacting with civilians; and what are examples of good practices of UN police in strengthening the rule of law and human rights protection.

Second, the paper asks members to consider the command and control and resourcing challenges faced by UN police.

Third, it raises the question of how the number of women in police contingents can be increased and provided with appropriate facilities and support. Along these lines, the concept paper posits the question of how closely UN police interact with communities, including with women, to analyse recurring threats and needed responses.

Finally, the concept paper asks members to consider what more the Security Council can do to help UN police carry out their responsibilities, by exploring how mandates are drafted and whether the policies and training in place provide them with the necessary guidance.

Sign up for What's In Blue emails