Police Often Seen as ‘Face’ of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, Under-Secretary-General Says in Briefing to Security Council

SC/12119
13 November 2015
7558th Meeting (AM)

Police Often Seen as ‘Face’ of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, Under-Secretary-General Says in Briefing to Security Council

Speakers Stress Need to Build Trust with Host Nations, Recruit More Women Officers

United Nations Police (UNPOL) were often viewed by local communities as the face of the Organization’s peacekeeping operations and contributed significantly to unarmed protection activities, Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told the Security Council today as it considered the challenges of policing under a mandate to protect civilians.

Mr. Ladsous said UNPOL also provided host States with critical support in terms of advice and training, and by building their capacity to protect civilians, adding that its officers had supported the reform, restructuring and rebuilding of domestic police and other law-enforcement agencies.  Although host States had the primary responsibility to protect, he said, “UN police are essential actors in ensuring that their national counterparts carry out the training and institutional reforms to make them effective and accountable protectors of the populace and in helping their colleagues build a trusting relationship with the communities that they are intended to protect”.

He noted that Security Council resolution 2185 (2014) — which underscored the centrality of police in peacekeeping — highlighted two areas crucial for the protection of civilians:  capacities and coordination.  Enhancing UNPOL’s capabilities would further improve their ability to protect, he said, emphasizing the importance of ensuring that police skills met the demands of modern missions, including through rapid deployment of units through the further development of the Police Division’s Standing Police Capacity.  Greater language capacities and more female officers were also needed.  Implementing the recommendations of the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations and the Secretary-General would strengthen police and their central role of protecting civilians, he said, adding that the Council could help through a clear political strategy and persistent advocacy with host Governments.

Charles Bent, Deputy Police Commissioner of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), said the Mission and UNPOL had been adjusting from a post-conflict and recovery mandate focused on capacity-building to a series of crisis-adjusted mandates focused on the protection of civilians.  UNMISS and UNPOL had supported and implemented “cross-cutting” programmes with other mission components in the areas of gender violence, women’s and child protection, he said.  Emphasizing that police were the bridge between civilians and Governments, he said that despite the challenges and dangers facing the UNMISS protection-of-civilian effort, he was confident in the Mission’s ability to prevail through innovative and sustainable approaches and programmes.

Pascal Champion, Police Commissioner of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), described the strategy to combat insecurity in territory controlled by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), occasioned by, among other factors, the infiltration of criminals, insufficient coordination between army and national police, intra-State arms trafficking, and loss of trust in the police.  The Mission’s strategy aimed to bring together all possible partners in strengthening operational capacity and ensuring public order through a coordinated response, he said.  The challenges included the complexity of partnerships and resource mobilization, but the integration of the police component would facilitate the implementation of tasks.

Greg Hinds, Police Commissioner of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), said its comprehensive strategy for the protection of civilians sought to increase the nation’s understanding of its responsibilities and to enhance both the capacity and willingness to shoulder it.  Emphasizing that it would be critical for the Government to assume its complete civilian-protection duties from UNMIL no later than 30 June 2016, he said national police and other security and justice actors required support to assume protection responsibilities, including by strengthening police leadership, enhancing accountability, and establishing command, control and coordination mechanisms.  The Ebola crisis that had lasted more than 16 months had inadvertently brought new opportunities for reinforcing the protection capacities of the national police, including the fostering of better police-community relations.  For its part, UNPOL supported national outreach to communities and an integrated security response for Ebola operations, he said.

In the ensuing debate, Council members stressed the need for appropriate training and equipment, underlining that the host country was primarily responsible for the protection of civilians.  Spain’s representative said that personnel-contributing countries should provide carefully selected police with experience in international humanitarian law and training in sexual-based violence.  New Zealand’s representative added that effective cooperation between UNPOL officers and the host country supported civilian protection.

Chad’s representative, echoed by other speakers, noted that increasing women’s representation in police presences was crucial to addressing women’s needs and perspectives, including the elimination of sexual and gender-based violence.

UNPOL must play a lead role in protecting civilians, the representative of the United States said, adding that the Council must ensure that the United Nations approach to peacekeeping reflected the importance of police by supporting reforms.  Pointing out that police officers were the first line of defence for civilians, she said the Council must improve its communication channels to ensure that it had better insight into the work of police contingents.

The representative of the Russian Federation stressed that police must carry out their Council mandates strictly, abide by peacekeeping principles and respect the sovereignty of the host country, especially in the creation of national law-enforcement bodies.  Police must not be the first to use force, unless there was a mandate to do so, he said, underlining that the Council must ensure that each mandate carefully considered the host country’s specific conditions, since “copying recipes” would only complicate matters.  Noting the desire for gender balance, he underscored the essential importance of professional qualifications, saying that numerical parity would be disadvantageous.

Also speaking today were representatives of Jordan, Chile, Lithuania, France, Nigeria, Venezuela, China, Angola, Malaysia and the United Kingdom.

The meeting began at 10:04 and ended at 12:42 p.m.

Briefings

HERVÉ LADSOUS, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said the protection of civilians was a mandate most often associated with the military or with civilian specialists in protection and human rights, but the duty of protecting civilians lay first with the police because they were the men and women with the training to engage with communities, analyse potential threats and, if necessary, to take action.  Ten peacekeeping operations had a civilian protection mandate, which required a “whole-of-Mission” effort in which the police had a particularly important role to play, he said.  Over the last decade, the number of police authorized for deployment had nearly tripled to more than 13,000, and their mandates were increasingly multidimensional.  United Nations Police (UNPOL) often served as the face of peacekeeping operations to local communities and contributed significantly to unarmed protection activities which, according to the report of the High-level Independent Panel on United Nations Pease Operations, “must be at the forefront of United Nations efforts to protect civilians”.

The presence of police expanded the areas reached by missions and host State authorities, protected civilians and United Nations personnel from physical violence and reassured local populations, he said.  UNPOL also provided host States with critical capacity-building for civilian protection through training and advising, he said, adding that police officers supported the reform, restructuring and rebuilding of domestic police and other law-enforcement agencies.  Although host States had the primary responsibility to protect, “UN Police are essential actors in ensuring that their national counterparts carry out the training and institutional reforms to make them effective and accountable protectors of the populace, and in helping their colleagues build a trusting relationship with the communities that they are intended to protect”, he said.  Council resolution 2185 (2014), which underscored the centrality of police in peacekeeping, highlighted two crucial areas for the protection of civilians — capacities and coordination.

Enhancing UNPOL’s capabilities would further improve their ability to protect, he said, emphasizing the need to ensure that police skills met the demands of modern missions, including through rapid deployment of police units through the further development of the Police Division’s Standing Police Capacity.  There was also a need for greater language capacities and more female police officers.  Despite an increase in the number female officers, the number still fell short of United Nations targets, he said, adding that UNPOL must also coordinate with other Mission components such as advisers on protection of civilians, child protection, women’s protection, as well as gender, civil affairs and human rights.  Implementing the recommendations of the High-level Independent Panel and the Secretary-General would serve to strengthen police and their central role in protecting civilians, he said.  The Council could help through a clear political strategy and persistent advocacy with host Governments.  “Ultimately, civilians are best protected when there is a sustainable peace and a stable host State with functioning and accountable rule of law institutions,” he said in conclusion.

CHARLES BENT, Deputy Police Commissioner, United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), said the Mission and UNPOL had been adjusting from a post-conflict and recovery mandate focused on capacity-building to a series of crisis-adjusted mandates focused on the protection of civilians.  The scope of that task was vast, involving civilians seeking safety in various venues, including United Nations compounds.  Calling attention to the increasing number of internally displaced persons, he said 180,000 were residing within UNMISS protection sites, adding that UNPOL was tasked with maintaining public safety and security within those sites.  However, it was challenging to maintain stability and public order in the protection-of-civilians sites due to constant daily threats against the staff by aggressive and threatening displaced persons.  Against those challenges, UNMISS continued to seek innovative ways to improve the efficiency of peacekeeping operations, he said.

Considering the dynamics of South Sudan, it was imperative to identify new ways to engage and improve the Mission, he emphasized.  UNMISS and UNPOL had supported and implemented “cross-cutting” programmes with other mission components in the areas of gender violence, women’s and child protection.  That initiative combined the focus of those concerns into an overarching Community Policing Strategy, to be supplemented by the displaced community’s watch groups within the civilian protection sites.  The newly proposed Joint Integrated Police would be the future policing strategy and ethics base for the future police service of South Sudan, he said.  Describing police were the bridge between civilians and Governments, he said that host Governments must have ownership of reform processes, stressing that, despite the challenges and dangers facing the UNMISS protection-of-civilian effort, he was confident in the Mission’s ability to adjust and prevail through innovative and sustainable approaches and programmes.

PASCAL CHAMPION, Police Commissioner, United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), described the strategy to combat insecurity in territory controlled by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), established in April 2014 to respond to threats and killings in Beni.  In four months, 17 killings, five terrorist acts, 14 armed robberies and six cases of mob justice had been committed — a situation brought about by the infiltration of criminals, insufficient coordination between the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) and the national police, the uncontrolled circulation of underpaid and poorly trained police and military forces, intra-State arms trafficking, and loss of trust in the police.  In addition, the Congolese police had to deal with poor infrastructure and poorly financed equipment from the Government and the United Nations.  “The progress is not very tangible but it does exist,” he said, noting that the number of deaths during the 2011 elections had dropped, as compared to those of 2006.  The Mission’s strategy aimed to bring together all possible partners in strengthening operational capacity and ensuring public order through a coordinated response, he said.

He said MONUSCO had been involved in 37 operational, administrative and logistical activities, as well as three human rights seminars organized by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the processing of information on armed groups.  The 2014 experience of police using of drones (aerial unmanned vehicles) had shown added value, but their use had not been implemented.  He said formed police units had not been able to intervene in Beni because their initial training had not been completed.  However, coordination as well as command-and-control centres had been established, and the Mission conducted follow-up through monthly satisfaction surveys.  As such, elected officials had noted “improved climate of trust” with the national police and were now welcoming meetings with civil society.  Among the challenges were the complexity of partnerships and resource mobilization.  Integrating the police component would facilitate the implementation of tasks.  The Congolese national police was in a delicate situation.  “We must go beyond simple council and review,” he said, as civilian protection required determination, capacity and resources.  That was as true for the Congolese police as it was for the United Nations.

GREG HINDS, Police Commissioner, United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), said the Mission’s comprehensive strategy for the protection of civilians had come into effect on 1 March 2014, seeking to increase Liberia’s understanding of its responsibilities and enhance both the capacity and willingness to shoulder it.  He emphasized that it would be critical for the Government to assume its complete civilian protection duties from UNMIL no later than 30 June 2016.  National police and other security and justice actors required support to assume protection responsibilities, including by strengthening police leadership, enhancing accountability, and establishing command, control and coordination mechanisms.  They also required support to improve operational planning and response, and to strengthen community engagement.  Stronger confidence in the criminal justice system, built through police partnerships with the communities they served, was also critical.

Decentralization and decongestion of State, police and justice services, including those in remote areas, was essential, he said, adding that the national police were planning to deploy 552 officers to border counties to that end.  Enhanced accountability and oversight were also required.  The legislature was deliberating on much-needed reform of the national police, he said, noting that a draft Police Act covered protection of civilians, oversight in the areas of complaints against police, and police development.  In each of those areas, the Ebola crisis that had spanned a period exceeding 16 months, had inadvertently brought new opportunities for reinforcing the protection capacities of the national police, including fostering better police-community relations.  For its part, UNPOL supported national outreach to communities and an integrated security response for Ebola operations, he said.  Indeed, the crisis had tested UNMIL’s ability to re-think and adapt its civilian protection mandate, and enabled it to explore new areas of cooperation with national police in providing a “security envelope” that would facilitate health and humanitarian efforts.

Statements

GOMBO TCHOULI (Chad) drew attention to the difficulties confronting police forces serving in peacekeeping operations, emphasizing the need to provide them with appropriate training and equipment in order to ensure that they carried out their tasks effectively.  One way to overcome existing challenges was to ensure that police forces were familiar with the linguistic and cultural knowledge of the country in which they were deployed, he said, adding that since police were at the forefront of engagement with the local population, it was important that they establish trust and understanding between the United Nations mission and the community it was protecting.  To that end, increasing the representation of women in police presences was crucial to addressing women’s needs and perspectives, including the elimination of sexual and gender-based violence.  He went on to cite positive developments relating to the protection of civilians in Liberia, Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic, stressing, however, that much more must be done by the international community to eliminate imminent threats against civilians, and to better protect them.

DINA KAWAR (Jordan) said her delegation was fully aware of the challenges and problems facing police officers in peacekeeping operations.  Acknowledging that they played a central part in the protection of civilians, she underlined the need to define priorities, including the strengthening of police training programmes and improving conditions in protection-of-civilians sites.  For its own part, Jordan had undertaken various measures, including the training of police forces to combat terrorism and strengthening their social integration programmes, she said.  Jordan supported all effective civilian-protection initiatives by UNPOL and military forces, she said.

JUAN MANUEL GONZÁLEZ DE LINARES PALOU (Spain) asked the commanders about the percentage of women in mission police components and efforts to increase that figure.  He also asked whether they would appoint gender focal points within their respective police components.  Emphasizing that police units must be accountable for their actions and receive adequate training, he said that personnel-contributing countries should provide carefully selected police with experience in international humanitarian law and training in sexual-based violence.  All personnel provided by Spain had received training in line with United Nations standards, he noted, adding that his delegation supported a review of the United Nations Police Division.  While there were more women in police components than in military ones, it was still far from the goal of 20 per cent, he pointed out.

CARLOS OLGUÍN CIGARROA (Chile) said that the increase in police deployed and the changed nature of their tasks was a necessary response to complex realities, an approach that his country endorsed.  The protection of civilians must be at the heart of training, with police prepared and equipped to ensure respect for the rule of law and human rights, as well as protection for the most vulnerable, especially women and children facing sexual- and gender-based violence.  Chile supported the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy in that regard, he said.  In line with resolutions 1325 (2000) and 2122 (2013), there was a need to increase the number of women participating, especially as leaders, in police contingents in contributing and host countries alike, he emphasized.  For its part, Chile had trained more than 250 members of the Haitian National Police, and contributed to training for officers and their superiors, including in the areas of human rights and democratic development.  He asked about the limitations of deploying more women in police contingents and how to overcome them.

SAMANTHA POWER (United States) recalled that three years ago, there had been 52 United Nations formed police units, whereas today there were 64, with an additional 15 pledged by Member States in recent weeks.  “This is an extremely important function,” she emphasized, pointing out that officers were the first line of defence for civilians, equipping mission leaders with the local knowledge required to help them refine strategies.  UNPOL must play a lead role in protecting civilians and the Council must do its utmost to position them for success.  First, it must ensure that the United Nations approach to peacekeeping reflected the importance of police by supporting reforms.  It also must ensure that police were properly trained and equipped.  On that point, she said her country planned to shorten deployment time to as few as 30 days after a resolution’s adoption.  Stressing the importance of increasing the number of female police, she said each nation’s police force had a deficit in that regard, and that was replicated in United Nations missions.  The Council must improve its communication channels to ensure it had visibility into the work of police contingents, by making today’s debate an annual one and, in country-specific briefings, having police commissioners contribute alongside force commanders.  She asked Mr. Bent about the resources and mandate adjustments needed, and Mr. Hinds whether UNMIL’s exit strategy impacted training for Liberian police.

RAIMONDA MURMOKAITE (Lithuania) asked whether UNPOL was prepared to ensure public order in a dire situation like that prevailing in South Sudan, where 190,000 civilians had sought protection at UNMISS sites, and whether pre-deployment training and other resources were sufficient.  She also asked how the ready availability of small arms contributed to the criminality in the UNMISS sites and beyond; about best practices in building trust with local communities; about the percentage of policewomen in MONUSCO, and how a greater female police presence could change the way in which the Mission interacted with local communities; and how police components contributed to the implementation of the zero-tolerance policy on sexual abuse and exploitation in that Mission.  One could arrest criminals, she said, but what would happen if there were no operating courts, judges were too afraid to conduct trials, or serious criminals and terrorists were held for long periods without trial alongside minor offenders?  It was essential that the United Nations develop a comprehensive approach to strengthening justice and the security sector.  She asked how MONUSCO — the largest United Nations peace operation, with a multifaceted mandate — could ensure coordination among all mission components while assisting the domestic security sector.

GERARD VAN BOHEMEN (New Zealand) said his country had been a strong supporter of UNPOL components and valued their role in protecting civilians from physical violence and establishing a protection environment for them.  Effective cooperation between UNPOL officers and the host country supported civilian protection in the country.  He asked what role the Security Council played in helping police personnel improve relations with host countries, and what the Council could do, including by scripting civilian-protection mandates, to help police in their difficult task.

ALEXIS LAMEK (France), noting that the protection of civilians was the primary responsibility of the host country, said that police officers deployed to peacekeeping operations continued to ensure the protection of civilians while helping to establish the rule of law.  In order to ensure the success of such operations, he said, it was essential to ensure the harmonization of all relevant stakeholders, he emphasized.  Furthermore, since police were at the forefront of engagement with the local population, they should speak the language of the country in which they were deployed.  France then called for stronger up efforts to increase the percentage of women in police components, he said.

U. JOY OGWU (Nigeria), recognizing the significant role played by police personnel in supporting United Nations peacekeeping operations, said that community policing and regular engagement with civilians were crucial in addressing disorder and criminality.  Women’s representation in police presences was important, particularly in ensuring that women’s needs in the conflict areas were met.  Furthermore, States had the primary responsibility to protect their citizens, control crime and criminalize those engaged in sexual exploitation.  She also highlighted the need to deepen consultation and collaboration between countries in order to address national needs in a comprehensive manner and share best practices.

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela) said it was important for police contingents to distinguish their capacities from those of military components in peacekeeping missions.  A legal framework was needed to combat crime, ensure accountability and protect civilians.  Emphasizing that gender equality could not be seen as an exception, he said women must help to protect local populations, and had a key role to play in preventing crime and conflict.  Peacekeeping and special political missions must plan, from the start, when and how skills would be transferred to the host country, because the success of any mission could be measured by that standard, which was closely linked to the sovereignty of countries receiving such missions.  For its part, the Council must ensure that proper equipment and technology were provided, and help reduce trafficking in small arms and light weapons.  Dialogue between the Council and troop-contributing countries must remain open, especially in the planning and drafting of mandates, in line with rule 44 of the United Nations Charter.  The Council should not encroach on General Assembly mandates, especially that of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, he stressed.

PETR V. ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) said police must carry out their Council mandates strictly, abide by peacekeeping principles and respect the sovereignty of the host country, especially in the creation of national law-enforcement bodies.  Police must not use force first, unless there was a mandate to do so, he said, emphasizing that the Council must ensure that each mandate carefully considered the host country’s specific conditions, since “copying recipes” would only complicate matters.  The Council would not be able to take efficient decisions unless it carried out such efforts with host and personnel-contributing countries, he said, adding that it must review a mission’s tasks when changes occurred within host countries.  Rapid deployment of police contingents affected a peacekeeping operation, he said, adding that his delegation supported greater communication and coordination among different missions in a given region.  To improve deployment, it was necessary to optimize equipment, and the Secretariat must consider the opinions of police-contributing countries in that regard.  Countries must increase the effectiveness of resource use and avoid duplication.  Noting the desire for gender balance, he emphasized the essential importance of professional qualifications because numerical parity would be disadvantageous.  The Russian Federation’s training centre had trained more than 350 foreign police from more than 50 countries, among them more than 70 women, he noted.

XU ZHONGSHENG (China) said peacekeeping police must implement Council mandates strictly, while as respecting peacekeeping principles and the host State’s sovereignty.  The Council must respect the host country’s views and formulate plans most suited to conditions there.  Peacekeeping policing should become more relevant, and as such, the Council must ensure that mandates were viable and practical, and that they did not attempt “to cover everything”.  The management of policing contingents must be improved by streamlining operation and rotation, as well as ensuring better planning and using limited resources for maximum results.  In rotations, police-contributing countries must be afforded more options and greater freedom, he said.  More broadly, training should ensure that police could fulfil their mandates and respond to emergencies, while peacekeeping missions must explore how to improve performance and assess the discipline of their personnel.  China had dispatched its first peacekeeping police contingent in 2000 and was ready to contribute to joint efforts, he said.

JULIO HELDER MOURA LUCAS (Angola) said that due to the changing nature of conflicts, UNPOL components in peacekeeping operations faced challenges in implementing their protection-of-civilians mandates.  UNPOL officers in the field contributed to protecting civilians from all forms of violence and restored trust in conflict areas.  Furthermore, they played a central part in creating protective environments, for women and children in particular.  To ensure improvements, the Council must ensure that police were properly trained and equipped, she said, calling also for efforts to increase the number of women in police contingents, while ensuring they had the appropriate facilities and support.

RAMLAN BIN IBRAHIM (Malaysia) said he acknowledged and appreciated the bravery and sacrifice of police personnel working in the field to ensure lasting peace, security and stability.  On the protection of civilians, States upheld the primary responsibility, he said, adding that they must enhance the accountability of national security forces and strengthen the rule of law.  Echoing previous statements, he expressed support for the deployment of women in peacekeeping operations because they could play a key role in protecting local populations and preventing violence in armed conflict.

MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) said the questions raised today had coalesced around three themes:  cooperation inside missions and among police components; the institutional framework, including the Council, in supporting policing; and related resources and capabilities.  Several had been follow-up questions to the Secretary-General’s June report on the protection of civilians, focusing on whether the rules of engagement were clear and how components cooperated with political affairs, especially on issues of violence.  On the institutional framework, some questions had centred on the police component as being neglected relative to other components of peacekeeping operations, while others had explored what more could be done to ensure that mission leadership understood the role of United Nations policing.  Many questions about resources and capabilities had been raised, notably on the role of women, the strategic guidance framework and technology use, he said.

Mr. LADSOUS responded by saying that the Secretary-General had proposed an external review of the police, which would be carried out thoroughly because it offered an opportunity to improve intra-mission cooperation.   “We’ve made a lot of progress,” he said, noting that police components interacted with senior protection advisers of the Secretary-General’s Special Representatives, as well as with children and women’s specialists.  The percentage of women in UNPOL stood at 12.2 per cent, marking progress over the number 10 years ago, but perhaps also reflecting the sociology of police forces throughout the world, he said, while agreeing that improvement was needed.

In that context, selection, assistance and assessment teams, launched two years ago, aimed to train female officers with specific skills, he said, adding that 161 women had been deployed.  The gender tool kit was being used in sexual-and gender-based violence training and had helped to build capacity, including within host States.  Gender focal points were in all missions, and going forward, police would be expected to be constantly adaptable and innovative, he said.  Turning to the question of technology, he said it was important and that, besides the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, better intelligence, communications and specialized capabilities were also needed.  In addition, formed police units could be improved, he said, adding that he had been struck by the percentage of staff devoted to self-sustainment, rather than spending 100 per cent of their time focused on policing work.  Sexual exploitation and abuse were as unacceptable in police as they were in either the military or civilian components, he said, emphasizing that while zero tolerance was an absolute necessity, the goal must be zero events.

Mr. BENT said the outbreak of conflict in South Sudan had forced all components to come together.  There had been “some stepping on toes” and conflicts of interest in their manner of cooperation, as well as a lack of understanding of primacy and focus.  “We had no adjusted mandate,” he said, noting that UNPOL had tried to “push forward” and control the camps.  In such efforts, it started to identify its own inabilities.  The police contingent had had trouble securing the perimeters of the civilian-protection sites due in part to inadequate fencing, he said.  People had sneaked in machetes, knives and other weapons, and police had had to combine with the UNMISS military component directly in order to address that situation.  Protective gear had been requested in January 2014 because many troop-contributing countries could not provide it.

The contingent tried to rely on minimal formed police units, he said, noting that the latter could engage more quickly and use greater force to control situations involving an armed opponent.  The decision to use force had become a critical issue, given why the police were there in first place.  “Escalations can happen on a whim,” he said.  The rules of engagement had become critical, and must be addressed through a standard operating procedure.  However, it had been found that military contingents should not engage with civilians, he said, adding that their only capacity was in providing support for the police component to secure a site.

“We are not properly equipped and do not have the resources to go into Bentiu,” he said, adding that the content of the UNMISS mandate had become “almost irrelevant”.  The Mission’s police contingent had tried to coordinate with other missions, but the situation had been “incredibly dynamic”.  Police must be trained for their environment, he said, adding that his own contingent had been inadequately trained.  In the wake of events, induction training had been adjusted to focus on gender-based violence and dealing with locals as separate ethnic groups.

The contingent had also asked for more women because they had a unique advantage in working with populations at the sites, comprising mostly women and children.  “We had to have a way to take advantage of that,” he said.  While the UNMISS police component had met the 20 per cent participation rate, that figure had slipped to below 18 per cent.  Noting that South Sudan was a harsh environment, he declared:  “We expose women and formed police units to great danger without the protection required to comfortably do their job.”

Mr. CHAMPION replied that MONUSCO had stepped up efforts to increase the number of women in police contingents.  On the use of new technologies, police use of drones had seemed promising in terms of supporting the overall protection-of-civilians strategy, but in 2014, MONUSCO had given priority to the military mission.  As for transnational organized crime, he expressed concern over the trafficking of natural resources, adding that the complexity of partnerships and resource mobilization were among the other challenges confronting MONUSCO, in addition to budget constraints.

Mr. HINDS said if only Member States delivered on their commitments, United Nations peacekeeping missions would be successful.  With more than 20 police advisers and 90 police-contributing countries, police played a key role in peacemaking and peacebuilding processes.  To carry out their civilian-protection mandate, however, police components must be provided with tools, training, skills and equipment, he said, stressing that, to that end, support from Member States was extremely important.  Turning to the issue of women’s representation in UNPOL, he praised their contribution to efforts aimed at establishing trust and understanding between the Mission and the community, but said it was unfortunate that female police officers constituted only 20 per cent of UNMIL.

For information media. Not an official record.