Security Council (Peacekeeping Police Commissioners)
Note: Owing to the liquidity crisis impacting our Organization, only a partial summary of statements made in today’s Security Council meeting on peacekeeping police commissioners is available at this time. The complete summary will be issued later as Press Release SC/14016.
JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said that while the number of peacekeeping missions has dropped in recent years as mandates are completed, the challenges facing peacekeepers are likely to continue to increase. Highlighting some recent achievements, he said partnerships remain central to the success of peace operations as well as to the facilitation of their transitions. In Darfur, for example, the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) is working closely with the African Union to plan for the mission’s transition and exit with a view to sustaining gains made and preventing a relapse into conflict. In Mali, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) is working with such key partners as the African Union to maintain stability. In the Abyei border region between Sudan and South Sudan, “protection communities” have been established to fill the void in the absence of a functioning police service, with members of Joint Protection Committees receiving training from the United Nations police.
Meanwhile, he said, progress has been made in enhancing performance — guided by Council resolution 2486 (2018) — including in strengthening internal evaluations and improving the safety and security of peacekeepers. Over 40 assessments of operational readiness have been conducted since January 2018. Outlining the rollout of the comprehensive performance assessment system in five missions, he said it has strengthened unity of purpose and cross-component planning while enhancing data collection. Turning to training, he said new curricula based on the Strategic Guidance Framework for International Police Peacekeeping will enhance effectiveness and efficiency of all United Nations police activities in the field.
Underlining the important goal of increasing the number of women in peacekeeping — and thereby making it more effective — he said that, to date, the United Nations has met its targets for the percentage of female peacekeepers deployed as individual officers, at 26.8 per cent, and as part of formed units at 10.9 per cent. As those targets are a floor, and not a ceiling, more work remains to be done. Stressing that the entirety of United Nations peacekeeping is undermined when standards of conduct are violated — especially through the crimes of sexual exploitation and abuse — he reported a steady downward trend in that regard, from 104 allegations in 2016 to 55 in 2018. Vigilance remains essential, he stressed, while also calling on missions to align their reporting with the Secretary-General’s 2018 Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative.
MARIE-JOSEPH FITAH-KONA, Adviser to the Mayor of the Third Arrondissement of Bangui, Central African Republic, briefed the Council via video-teleconference, describing the multiple roles she plays within her community. Those have allowed her to see first-hand a range of positive recent developments on the ground, achieved in part thanks to police officers from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). Following the start of rampant insecurity in 2013, improvements began quickly upon the Mission’s arrival. Shops reopened, people were able to walk on the street and life for many returned to normal. “As a women and a mayor, I am very grateful for the communication and awareness-raising work being done on violence against women and sexual exploitation and abuse,” she said. However, instances of those crimes still continue, and impunity for them must stop.
Describing some of the projects spearheaded by MINUSCA in coordination with local authorities, including herself, she said the Mission’s police officers have been patrolling her district to gradually regain the trust of the population. “This is something that was unimaginable just a little while ago,” she said, adding that dialogue has also resumed among representatives of various armed groups and religious communities now coexist more peacefully. However, many challenges remain, including the slow pace in implementing the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic and the continued circulation of large numbers of weapons. Welcoming the ongoing recruitment of 1,000 more police and gendarmerie officers to the national security forces, with MINUSCA support, she underlined the Mission’s critical role more broadly. “We mustn’t be abandoned, because the situation is far too fragile,” she said, urging the Council to continue to support the Central African Republic in restoring lasting peace.
AWALE ABDOUNASIR, Police Commissioner, United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), said organized crime has become a central scourge facing many countries — especially fragile States — around the world. Noting that MONUSCO’s police force has developed a prevention strategy to combat that phenomenon in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he called for concerted efforts at the regional and subregional level as well as the reinforcement of State authority and strengthened rule of law. “To overcome instability, most of the Governments of the countries affected have concentrated on a militarized response,” he said. However, a judicial response that holds perpetrators of crimes accountable would have been more effective. Building the operational capacity of police forces — together with a plan for reforming justice sectors and prison systems — is a better strategy to combat conflict and insecurity. Welcoming the fact that many Council mandates call for efforts to reinforce criminal justice systems, he said more attention is needed in that area.
MARY GAHONZIRE, Senior Police Adviser, United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), pointed out that “little progress was made in implementing outstanding commitments agreed on by the parties in the 2011 Agreement [between the Government of the Republic of the Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement on temporary arrangements for the administration and security of the Abyei Area], such as the establishment of the APS [Abyei Police Service], deployment of increased UNPOL [United Nations police] in UNISFA and the issuance of visas to UNISFA personnel”. “The delay in the establishment of APS and other institutions has created a grave law and order vacuum,” she said, adding that informal community protection committees have been formed to deal with the situation, through efforts between United Nations police and Ngok Dinka traditional community leaders.
She outlined measures to enhance the operational and administrative capacity of the community protection committees, which are supported, trained, monitored and advised by UNISFA police. In central and southern Abyei, 30 community protection committees have been established, as well as a joint protection committee and three attached detention facilities. However, no community protection committee structures have been established in the north of Abyei, “due to reservations expressed by the Government of Sudan”. Observing that the committees play a crucial role in sustaining peace and security, particularly by addressing sexual and gender-based violence, she touched on efforts to step up recruitment, including of females. Turning to the performance of the committees, she said the joint protections committees had been maintaining law and order in Amiet Common Market and its environs, as well managing detention centres in accordance with international standards and human rights, while the community protection committees handle basic law enforcement duties.
ISSOUFOU YACOUBA, Police Commissioner, United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), said that the vastness of Malian territory combined with the slow implementation of the peace process has significantly reduced the State’s abilities to carry out its functions in the north and central regions. This has eroded public confidence and provided opportunity for extremists who provide services and attack any parties that refuse to accept their authority. Such dynamics have exacerbated intercommunal violence. MINUSMA police, in that context, assist in civilian protection and reestablishment of State law through training and support in a variety of areas in conjunction with the European mission EUCAP Sahel Mali and other partners. In protection of civilians, the police work with MINUSMA and other partners, and support the information analysis and gathering centres that helps manage risks and supports early warning. They also support the implementation of Government strategies such as the integrated plan for securing the central region that in addition to reduction of intercommunal violence, aims to re-establish basic social services. This has allowed limited redeployment of Malian Defence and Security Forces.
In developing a global plan for the deployment of the Malian security sector and a better approach for the protection of civilians, he said, MINUSMA police is working with the Government on extension of State authority. He stressed that effective governance in zones now outside State authority requires that trust be established between the population and the Government, through the engagement of communities on questions of security. Local police deployment is therefore critical. In general, strategic partnerships based on previous agreements are also important. Challenges in all these areas include the slow pace of the security sector reform process, the fallout of military operations, border management problems and the lack of adequate funding for capacity-building of the Malian Defence and Security Forces. He voiced confidence, however, that integrated efforts, through the development of resilience of communities and the improvement of trust between the population and State authorities, can overcome these problems.
TIEMOKO MORIKO (Côte d’Ivoire), noting that his country was once the host of a peacekeeping mission, commended the personnel of all such missions. He commented that a positive dynamic relationship between the mission and the host country allows national ownership and a return to stability and prosperity. For that purposes, police components are essential, both in allowing stability and training national forces. More attention to such capacity-building is required. He asked for evaluation of police efforts in helping restore State authority in Mali. Affirming the importance of women’s participation in policing, he called on the Council to continue to work to increase their numbers. In that context, he asked about women’s contribution to MONUSCO. Noting the diversity of police and troop contributors, he commented that part of their challenge is to shape that diversity into an effective force.
ZHANG JUN (China), affirming the importance of police in United Nations peacekeeping operations, paid tribute to those officers who have given their lives, including eight Chinese nationals in Haiti. Recalling the history of reform of peacekeeping policing, he pledged to work with other States to jointly improve United Nations policing. He stressed that policing should be guided by the principles of the Charter of the United Nations under clear and explicit mandates that respect the sovereignty of the host countries. Political dialogue and economic development is key to lasting peace. Noting his country’s efforts at improvement of policing, he said that efficiency must be improved. His country is currently delivering on its commitments to policing by forming the first standby contingent for United Nations peacekeeping, training officers from many countries. The Council must take stronger action on safety and security of peace operations and enhance their response capabilities in dealing with emergencies. While increasing the number of women police personnel is important, attention to safety must be increased for that purpose. His country will continue to support policing through the peace and development fund and other mechanisms.
KAREN VAN VLIERBERGE (Belgium), welcoming increased demand for United Nations policing, said that the police division can provide valuable early warning information to the Security Council. She also welcomed greater accountability on the part of management of police contingents through new arrangements. She asked about the results of such arrangements. She called for increased attention to interactions with communities and noted communalities with civilian missions deployed by the European Union, asking for more information on those partnerships. As building national policing capacity is critical when the host State deems it necessary, she asked how the police components of MONUSCO will develop in the course of the next few years.
MARTHINUS VAN SHALKWYK (South Africa) said that the United Nations police play an important role in promoting stability and long-term development in countries affected by conflict. As a police-contributing country, South Africa has individual police officers deployed to two United Nations peacekeeping missions, namely the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and UNAMID. Over 50 per cent of those deployed are females, demonstrating South Africa’s commitment to promoting the women, peace and security agenda. “The continued presence of United Nations police on the ground gives them the responsibility to ensure effective transitions from peacekeeping to peacebuilding,” he continued. United Nations police also play a critical role in ensuring stability and sustaining peace in local communities. Posing questions to the Police Commissioners, he asked about challenges faced by women police officers in peacekeeping missions and how the Council can help. He also asked what more can the Organization do to ensure that United Nations police are better equipped to carry out their duties.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) underlined the importance of police personnel, who play a substantive role in helping national authorities to protect civilians and build the capacity of local law enforcement. Describing police officers as a “link in the chain between the population and peacekeepers”, he said they should be strictly guided by Council mandates, basic peacekeeping principles and the Charter of the United Nations. Underlining the importance of developing strong relations with host countries and taking into account their specific needs, he emphasized that the Secretariat must closely listen to the views of police-contributing countries. He warned against attempts to impose “outside concepts” — which are not endorsed by the Special Committee on Peacekeeping — into the work of peacekeepers and police units, which would be counterproductive. Nor would it make sense to allocate functions to police personnel that would draw them away from their specialized work, such as political or human rights monitoring. Noting that the Russian Federation has deployed more than 500 police personnel to United Nations peacekeeping operations since 1992, he said its police are currently active in South Sudan, Colombia, Cyprus and elsewhere.
ANNE GUEGUEN (France) expressed support for the Action for Peacekeeping initiative, while calling for the upgrading of police officers and gendarmerie within missions’ command structures. United Nations police officers convey a different message than blue helmets, she said, noting that they are received positively by local populations and are often viewed as representing a return to normality — especially during times of transition and when blue helmets are withdrawing. Recalling that several missions have reported a positive correlation between the number of women in their forces and the durability of peace on the ground — as was seen in Liberia — she said that, despite a recent increase in the number of female peacekeepers their numbers still remain too low. Posing several questions, she asked the briefers what main difficulties they face in carrying out their missions; how MONUSCO’s Police Commander would evaluate the Mission’s ability to respond to the needs of victims of gender-based violence; and to provide information on actions MONUSCO is taking to fight the Ebola crisis.
JOSÉ SINGER WEISINGER (Dominican Republic) agreed with other speakers that police contingents are critical to the United Nations peacekeeping architecture, including in connecting peacekeeping and peacebuilding. Emphasizing the importance of building close ties with national authorities, local communities and civil society, he said increasing the number of police personnel would help in that regard. Police-contributing countries must meet standards in predeployment training, and must adequately equip all their deployed staff. Meanwhile, a people-centred approach should underpin all actions in such areas as child protection, human rights monitoring, combating gender-based violence and communicating with communities in their own language. Posing questions to the briefers, he asked Mr. La Croix to outline the biggest gaps facing predeployment training for police personnel, and to explain the impact such shortcomings have on the ground. Voicing concern that women remain underrepresented in high-ranking posts, he also asked Mr. La Croix to outline initiatives undertaken to increase the number of women police officers and to mainstream a gender perspective into the work of police units.