|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by United Nations Police Adviser
With more than 13,000 police officers serving in peacekeeping operations — from Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region to earthquake-ravaged Haiti — the world body aimed to boost the number of women officers to 20 per cent by 2014 while strengthening training programmes to better prepare recruits to handle complex post-conflict and post-disaster situations, United Nations Police Adviser Ann-Marie Orler said at Headquarters today.
“The continuing growth and complexity of our police components underlines the central role of promoting the rule of law in post-conflict environments,” Ms. Orler said at her first press conference since the day of her appointment in March. She vowed to further professionalize the United Nations approach to international peacekeeping, saying: “We have begun to take steps in the area of recruitment to make selection and rotations more efficient, and to ensure that we get a sufficient number of qualified staff.”
She said her Office was also working with the Integrated Training Service in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to strengthen the assistance provided to help Member States prepare those men and women for international deployment through standardized predeployment training. A major part of that exercise also meant developing better guidelines for United Nations police components in the field, she noted. “A better understanding of our core functions […] in turn means that we will be able to establish clearer and harmonized standards for UN policing, to identify the specific capabilities that we will need in our missions and to develop relevant training.”
Ms. Orler said one of her goals was to work more closely with Member States, stressing that the Organization could only deliver with their help and the personnel they provided. The Police Adviser’s Office had therefore intensified its dialogue with police-contributing countries and was also bringing together Member States and INTERPOL to develop, by year’s end, an action plan for support to police peacekeeping. Those efforts would provide a real opportunity to tackle a range of tough challenges, ranging from doctrine to training, recruitment and deployment, she added.
“All [these] issues — recruitment, training and guidance — are reflected in my goal to increase the number of women in our police components and strengthen our response to sexual and gender-based violence,” she said, noting that women now made up 8.5 per cent (1,173 officers) of the Organization’s police force, which comprised officers from at least 84 countries. The goal was to boost that proportion to 20 per cent over the next four years.
Recalling the launch last August of a global United Nations effort to increase the number of women police officers serving with peacekeeping missions, she said that during a workshop last week for female personnel from 18 countries, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had stressed that their numbers must increase “not just because deploying more women reflects natural justice […] but because women bring an essential extra dimension to one of our most important tasks — bringing peace, stability and development to populations recovering from conflict”.
Ms. Orler reinforced that point by adding that the goal of the global effort was not merely to increase the number of female officers in the United Nations police service, but also to boost their respective national services. In that regard, she announced that the Government of Liberia was aiming to see that women made up 20 per cent of its national police force by 2014. Meanwhile, the Government of Bangladesh was seeking 10,000 more women for recruitment into its national police service.
On the United Nations front, she continued, Bangladesh had deployed two Formed Police Units (a total of 260 officers) to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) just over a week ago, marking the first time that the country had deployed an all-female police unit to the Organization. She pointed out that the Government of India had first deployed an all-female police unit to Liberia in 2007. While it had since been rotated three times, an all-female unit remained deployed in that West African country.
Reiterating her hope that women would make up 20 per cent of the United Nations police force by 2014, she said that a step in that direction had been evident in recent deployments to the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), where female police were working in and around many camps for internally displaced persons. UNAMID had received 136 female officers from Bangladesh, Gambia, Ghana, Namibia, United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe, raising the percentage of women officers deployed in that operation above 10.5 per cent.
Ms. Orler concluded by announcing that Rwanda would deploy some 130 female police officers in the second half of 2010, adding that the German Government had recently announced its intention to invest $41.7 million towards the development of a United Nations police standardized training curriculum on investigating and preventing sexual and gender-based crimes.
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