What's In Blue

UN Policing: Heads of Police Components Briefing

Tomorrow 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, Police Commissioner of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) Christophe Bizimungu, Police Commissioner of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Christine Fossen, UN Police Adviser Faisal Shahkar, and Executive Director of Security Council Report Karin Landgren.

China has circulated a concept note ahead of tomorrow’s meeting. It says that the briefing seeks to facilitate discussion on how the UN Police (UNPOL) can contribute to the recommendations in the New Agenda for Peace, a policy brief released in July outlining the Secretary-General’s vision for the UN’s work on peace and security in a changing world. The concept note outlines some of the relevant recommendations in the New Agenda for Peace, including:

In this context, China would like Council members to reflect on the role of UNPOL in addressing current challenges to international peace and security, in advancing the objectives proposed in the New Agenda for Peace, and in strengthening UN peace operations.

At tomorrow’s meeting, Lacroix may wish to focus on UNPOL’s contribution within the framework of the Action for Peacekeeping Plus (A4P+) initiative, a set of priorities being implemented in 2021-2023 to accelerate peacekeeping reform. He is expected to brief about UNPOL’s strategic priorities and the key challenges that it faces. In this regard, he may highlight, among other things, the work that is being done by UNPOL to improve its performance, strengthen conduct and discipline, and ensure accountability for peacekeepers by promoting their safety and security, conduct, and discipline; to advance the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda; and to enhance strategic communications to counter disinformation, misinformation, and hate speech.

This annual briefing will also be an opportunity for the new UN Police Adviser, Faisal Shahkar, who assumed the role in December 2022, to interact with Council members. He may describe some of UNPOL’s accomplishments in terms of enhancing performance, promoting gender parity, and strengthening strategic partnerships through triangular (that is, between the Council, the Secretariat, and troop- and police-contributing countries) and multilateral cooperation. Shahkar might also speak about the key challenges facing UNPOL in acquiring specific capabilities to effectively fulfil its mandated tasks and underscore the need to support mandates with adequate resources.

The two police commissioners may highlight UNPOL’s role in capacity-building and development as well as the importance of gender-responsive policing. Bizimungu is likely to describe UNPOL’s support for the Central African Republic (CAR) security forces, including through the provision of various types of training to build the capacity of the national police and gendarmerie. Fossen, who also briefed at last year’s annual meeting, is expected to speak about the role of women in policing and elaborate on UNPOL’s work in South Sudan in support of the national police to advance gender responsiveness. The International Day of Police Cooperation, which was commemorated for the first time on 7 September, in line with the decision of the UN General Assembly during its 77th session, highlighted the vital role of women in policing. According to a 10 November UN press release, women’s participation in UNPOL has doubled since 2015, exceeding the 2023 targets set out in the UN Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy, which aims to increase women’s participation in uniformed roles, including reaching 20 percent in formed police units by 2028. Based on UN data cited in the press release, women police officers currently make up 43.1 percent of contracted professional officers at UN Headquarters, 24.6 percent of contracted professional officers in the field, 31.8 percent of individual police officers, and 15.6 percent of formed police units. Women are also increasingly assuming leadership positions in mission police components, and occupy six out of 13 positions as heads or deputy heads of police in Abyei, Cyprus, Kosovo, Mali, and South Sudan.

Landgren is likely to focus on the role of UNPOL in combatting organised crime, in light of its linkages to conflict, also reflected in the Council’s steadily growing attention to various forms of organised crime. She is also expected to reflect on the role of police in enforcement actions by regional organisations or other coalitions, and in UN peace operations transitions. With some of the bigger multidimensional peacekeeping operations undergoing transitions, the role of UNPOL in protecting civilians and building the policing capacity of host countries has become increasingly important. This month, Security Council Report will issue a research report analysing the Security Council’s engagement on transitions. (For more information, see the In Hindsight in our November Monthly Forecast, which highlights key themes of the upcoming report.)

Tomorrow’s meeting will take place during UN Police Week, which will be held between 13 and 17 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. Tomorrow’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, professional, and well-trained UN police personnel. Some might 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 are likely to underscore the primary responsibility of host countries in facilitating the protection of civilians and stress the need to assist them in building their capacities.

At last year’s briefing, some Council members stressed the need for UNPOL to build trust with local populations and welcomed the establishment of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Policing, which aims to facilitate greater coherence between UNPOL and other UN entities involved in aspects of policing and law enforcement, including the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Members also commended UNPOL’s efforts to achieve the Secretary-General’s Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy. Additionally, Council members emphasised the need to implement a holistic approach to policing that addresses the nexus of terrorism, violent extremism, and transnational organised crime. Some Council members underscored the need for UNPOL to enhance its cooperation with regional and sub-regional organisations with regard to training, sharing experiences, and exchanging information about policing.

At tomorrow’s meeting, Council members may wish to congratulate the winner of the annual UN Woman Police Officer of the Year Award. Established in 2011 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 2023 UN Woman Police Officer of the Year Award is Police First Sergeant Renita Rismayanti of Indonesia, who serves as a crime database officer in MINUSCA. She is expected to receive her award at a ceremony that will be held on Thursday (16 November) in recognition of her contribution to conceptualising and developing a criminal database that “enables UN Police to map and analyse crime and disorder hotspots which, in turn, helps the country’s security forces to better plan their operations in support of the local population”, according to a 10 November UN press release.

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