What's In Blue

Posted Fri 11 Nov 2022

UN Policing: Heads of Police Components Briefing

On Monday morning (14 November), the Security Council will hold its annual briefing with the heads of police components of UN peace operations. The expected briefers are Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix; the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) police commissioner, Christine Fossen; the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) police commissioner, Mody Berethe; and Emma Birikorang, deputy director at the Faculty of Academic Affairs and Research at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC).

Ghana has circulated a concept note ahead of Monday’s meeting, which indicates that the briefing will focus on how to strengthen the contribution of UN Police (UNPOL) to realising the Action for Peacekeeping Plus (A4P+) initiative, a set of priorities being implemented in 2021-2023 to accelerate peacekeeping reform. Lacroix is expected to speak about the strategic priorities of UN police components within the framework of A4P+. At the third UN Chiefs of Police Summit (UNCOPS), which was held in New York from 31 August to 1 September, he outlined seven such priorities:

  • Ensuring collective coherence behind a political strategy to support efforts aimed at finding sustainable political solutions. Lacroix stressed the importance of strengthening UNPOL’s strategic and operational integration with other UN entities to support this objective;
  • Equipping UNPOL with the necessary capabilities and mindset, including through the alignment of pre-deployment and in-mission trainings;
  • Enhancing the safety and security of peacekeepers in light of the increasing attacks against them and ensuring accountability for such attacks;
  • Ensuring UNPOL’s accountability, including through performance assessment and evaluation, as well as by holding police personnel accountable for any misconduct;
  • Promoting effective strategic communications to advance UNPOL’s work through enhanced digital and social media engagement and community policing initiatives;
  • Improving cooperation with host countries to facilitate smooth and successful transitions of peace operations; and
  • Promoting other cross-cutting priorities which relate to supporting the implementation of the woman, peace and security agenda and the UN’s Digital Transformation Strategy, which was released in September 2021 to harness the power of digital technologies to improve the delivery of mandates.

Lacroix may use the opportunity of Monday’s briefing to explain these priorities and provide concrete examples from the field of steps taken by UNPOL to implement them.

Some of the briefers at Monday’s meeting may highlight UNPOL’s role in the protection of civilians (PoC). Fossen is expected to speak about this issue in the context of UNMISS’ work. She may note that more than 1,446 UN police personnel are deployed across various parts of South Sudan to provide a safe and secure environment for those who have fled from violence and seek protection. Among other matters, Fossen might mention UNPOL’s role in ensuring the security of PoC sites and facilitating the safe and voluntary return of displaced people. She may also describe UNPOL’s various community engagements aimed at preventing sexual and gender-based violence, advancing human rights and promoting reconciliation. Fossen might also elaborate on the capacity-building assistance provided by UNPOL to the South Sudanese national police service.

Berethe is likely to focus on the issue of police personnel performance. The Secretary-General’s latest report on MONUSCO, dated 22 September, mentions the training sessions organised by the mission’s police component to enhance the performance of its 441 police officers. The topics covered in these training sessions include the Comprehensive Planning and Performance Assessment System (CPAS), the Safe and Secure Approaches in Field Environments (SSAFE), and the protection of civilians. Birikorang may speak about KAIPTC’s contribution to training and capacity-building of peacekeepers and police officers through its multidimensional and integrated Peace Support Operations training courses.

Monday’s meeting will take place during the 17th UN Police Week, which will be held virtually from 14 to 18 November. During this annual event, the heads of UN police components of UN peacekeeping operations, special political missions, and regional offices, as well as senior leaders from relevant UN departments, meet to discuss matters relating to UN policing. This year, they are expected to focus on UNPOL’s role in the implementation of the A4P+ priorities.

There is general agreement among Council members about the importance of UN policing in helping to maintain public order, protect civilians and assist host states in enhancing their law enforcement capacities. Monday’s meeting is expected to be interactive and Council members may seek more information from the briefers about various aspects of UNPOL’s activities in the field and inquire about ways to further advance the A4P+ agenda through UNPOL’s work.

Council members may note UNPOL’s efforts to increase its effectiveness and address performance gaps. This includes its work with police-contributing countries and other relevant stakeholders to deploy “vetted, well prepared, equipped, technologically proficient and trained UN police personnel”, in line with the understanding reached at this year’s UNCOPS. Some may wish to highlight the crucial role of women police officers in protecting civilians, particularly women and children. Members may also highlight UNPOL’s important role in peace operations transitions, including in security sector reform (SSR) and in strengthening law enforcement capacities. Other members may underscore the primary responsibility of host countries in facilitating the protection of civilians and stress the need to assist them in building their capacities.

Council members may wish to congratulate the winner of the annual UN Woman Police Officer of the Year Award. Established in 2010 to highlight the work of female police officers, the award is presented to an outstanding officer “who distinguishes herself through exemplary conduct and achievements in more than one area of policing that has a significant and meaningful impact on her area of responsibility”. The winner of the 2022 UN Woman Police Officer of the Year award is Chief Warrant Officer Alizéta Kabore Kinda of Burkina Faso, who currently serves in the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Lacroix presented her with the award at a ceremony held on 31 August during UNCOPS, in recognition of her dedicated support to “the Malian Security Forces in the Menaka region to promote and improve understanding of gender, child protection, human rights and civil protection issues”, according to a UN press release.

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