What's In Blue

Posted Wed 9 Nov 2016

Briefing on the role of policing in UN peace operations

Tomorrow (10 November), the Council will hold its annual briefing with the heads of police components on the role of policing in UN peace operations. Under-Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous is expected to brief on the current challenges to effective UN policing. Four police commissioners will share their experiences regarding different aspects of UN policing: Bruce Munyambo (UN Mission in South Sudan), Priscilla Makotose (AU-UN Mission in Darfur), Georges-Pierre Monchotte (UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti) and Issoufou Yacouba (UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali).

It is expected that the briefers will raise issues such as the implementation of protection of civilians mandates, the role of police components in developing the capacities of states hosting UN peace operations, safety and security of UN personnel, and issues related to their conduct and discipline. Approximately 13,500 officers, 10 per cent of whom are women, are deployed to 12 peacekeeping operations and five special political missions, carrying out a variety of complex tasks. Resolution 2185 of 20 November 2014 on UN policing expressed the Council’s intention to consider holding a meeting annually with the heads of police components, and this will be the third consecutive year that such a briefing is held.

The briefing comes against the backdrop of significant thinking about the UN’s efforts to implement policing tasks in peace operations’ mandates. The report of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations saw a need to review the roles and responsibilities of the police division in order to improve UN police capabilities, including providing support to building capacity of host states. The Secretary-General in his implementation report instructed the division to undertake an external review of its functions, structure and capacity; this was commissioned in January 2016.

The review team, co-chaired by Hilde F. Johnson, former Special Representative of the Secretary-General to South Sudan, and Ambassador Abdallah Wafy, the Permanent Representative of Niger to the UN, submitted its report in May. Among other recommendations, the report supported the implementation of sequenced and prioritised mandates. In this sense, it advocated “refraining from mandating numbers of police officers to be deployed at the outset without an in-depth assessment” that could provide “the basis for context-specific and tailor-made [policing] mandates”. It also called for more clarity on protection and capacity development mandates and for better interaction between the police division and heads of police components and the Council.

Following the briefings, Council members will make statements and ask the briefers questions. 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.

In preparation for tomorrow’s briefing, Senegal circulated a concept paper in which it raises several issues that Council members may wish to consider during their interventions. These include discussing the role of the Council in supporting integrated police reforms within the broader context of host state security sector and rule of law reforms; how to optimise the use of formed police units; how UN policing can contribute to all the three tiers of protection of civilians (physical protection, protective environment, and protection through political processes); and the importance of promoting gender-sensitive policing.

Sign up for What's In Blue emails