21 November 2013
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on Increasing Number of Women Police Officers in Peace Operations


It was imperative to deploy more female police officers in both United Nations peacekeeping and its special political missions to enhance conflict resolution and peacebuilding, Stefan Feller, United Nations Police Adviser, told correspondents at a Headquarters press conference today.


He said that gender remained a key focus for the United Nations Police (UNPOL).  Indeed, “a stronger representation of women in policing was a dire operational necessity and a strong indicator of progress in the area of rule of law”, he stressed, encouraging Member States to support such efforts in both national and international police work.


Despite some successes, much more needed to be done, he said, noting that boosting the number of female police officers in field operations was being addressed globally.  Notable among the improvements was the police component of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), 22 per cent of which were female officers.  The United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) had 19 per cent and 13 per cent, respectively.


Mr. Feller expressed gratitude to Rwanda for its strong female representation and for the deployment of 160 female police officers in United Nations peacekeeping operations, and to other Member States who were making gender mainstreaming in policing a “critical priority”.


Also at the briefing was Hester Paneras, Police Commissioner for the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), whom Mr. Feller noted was the first in that capacity.  She agreed that more women were needed for gender-related services in conflict areas around the world.  Female police officers served as role models, and in conflict areas, where the majority of victims were women, they had a “far-reaching” impact in easing the problems facing the affected women and finding solutions.


Ms. Paneras urged Member States to adhere to Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) by involving women in peacekeeping and peacebuilding initiatives, as well as by supporting their deployment.


Turning to the work of UNPOL, Mr. Feller said that currently, United Nations Police totalled 12,837 personnel out of an authorized strength of 16,704.  The police officers were serving in 12 peacekeeping missions under the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and seven special political missions under the Department of Political Affairs.


However, he acknowledged that UNPOL was facing new challenges and threats with the rise in transnational organized crime.  He noted in particular the links among terrorists, armed groups, corrupt State actors, and drugs and arms traffickers, which were “intermixing with other spoilers of peace”.


In that regard, he said that UNPOL was working with partners, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and INTERPOL to check the activities of the transnational criminals and to help build the needed host-State capacity by launching specialized units and mentoring national counterparts on investigations and prevention mechanisms.


Responding to questions, Mr. Feller said that the Organization was committed and determined to achieve its goal of increasing the number of female police officers by 20 per cent by 2014, adding that, “now we are only 10 per cent”.


He encouraged both current and former police-contributing countries to support that objective either by increasing the number of female police officers or re-engaging in the global effort to boost women’s participation in peacekeeping operations.


Ms. Paneras said that UNPOL was working on a draft strategy with senior-level female police officers from Zambia, Senegal, South Africa, and elsewhere to facilitate the recruitment and deployment of more women in both national and international policing.


On police access in Darfur, she acknowledged the inaccessibility to some areas in the region, and noted that UNAMID had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Government of Sudan to enhance the working relationship with the national police and to ensure access to areas in need.  Next month, UNAMID police officials and Sudan’s police authorities would hold a meeting in Khartoum to improve services and foster cooperation and partnership, she added.


Responding to a question on accountability, Mr. Feller said that the United Nations always ensured accountability and zero tolerance for misbehaviour, misconduct and breach of laws that could undermine its work around the world.


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For information media • not an official record