From community outreach to counter-terrorism forensics to daily security patrols, police officers deployed as part of United Nations peacekeeping operations serve crucial functions across the world, the Security Council heard today as it was briefed by force leaders and other senior officials.
Police commanders from peacekeeping missions in Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Abyei border region between Sudan and South Sudan participated in an interactive discussion with Council members, outlining both strides made by their personnel and challenges faced. Joining them in the Chamber was the head of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, who provided an overview of the Organization’s strategic policing efforts. Speaking via video teleconference — and assessing such efforts through the lens of local authorities — was a senior mayoral adviser in Bangui, Central African Republic.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said United Nations police continue to work closely with local, regional and subregional partners. In Mali, they help provide stability. In Darfur, they are helping plan for the ultimate exit of the African Union-United Nations hybrid mission, while preserving gains made. Meanwhile, local “protection communities” trained by United Nations police are filling a void in the absence of a functioning police service in Abyei. Outlining strides made in police training and performance, he said the Organization met its target of increasing the percentage of female peacekeepers to 26.8 per cent. However, that number is a ceiling — not a floor — and much more remains to be done.
Issoufou Yacouba, Police Commissioner of the 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 reduced the State’s abilities to carry out its functions in the north and central regions. This has eroded public confidence and bolstered extremist groups, in turn exacerbating intercommunal violence. Against that backdrop, MINUSMA police are assisting with civilian protection and the re-establishment of State authority, including through trainings provided in conjunction with the European Union mission EUCAP Sahel Mali and other partners.
United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) Police Commissioner Awale Abdounasir cited similar dynamics. Describing organized crime as a central scourge facing many countries — especially fragile States — around the world, he warned that too many Governments have concentrated on a militarized response when criminal and judicial ones would prove more effective. MONUSCO is supporting such a strategy in its work, while helping to build the operational capacity of local police and assisting with plans for justice sector reform and prison system improvements, he said.
The Senior Police Adviser for the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), Mary Gahonzire, cited little security progress made by the parties to the conflict in that border region. Outlining the Mission’s work in that context, she described its creation of “protection communities” and the provision of training, monitoring and operational, and administrative support. Noting 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 women.
Meanwhile, Marie-Joseph Fitah-Kona, Adviser to the Mayor of the Third Arrondissement of Bangui, Central African Republic, recounted her first-hand view of a range of positive recent developments following the deployment of police units from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic. After being shuttered during the country’s 2013 crisis, shops reopened, people were able to walk on the street and life for many returned to normal. Dialogue between armed groups has resumed and religious communities now coexist more peacefully. She also highlighted the awareness-raising work being done by police officers on violence against women and sexual exploitation and abuse.
Council members then took the floor, with many expressing support for the critical work of United Nations police officers. Some speakers stressed that — like all peacekeepers — such officers must always adhere to their mandates and be guided by the core principles of impartiality, consent of the parties and non-use of force except in cases of self-defence or defence of mandate. Meanwhile, others emphasized that police can be more effective, and stay safer, if they are provided better resources and equipment.
The representative of France, for one, called for the upgrading of police officers and gendarmerie within missions’ command structures. Pointing out that United Nations police officers convey a different message than blue helmets, she said they are received positively by local populations and are often viewed as representing a return to normality. 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.
The representative of Côte d’Ivoire recalled that his country hosted a United Nations peacekeeping mission, which was closed after its successful completion in 2017. Noting that a positive dynamic relationship between a mission and the host country allows for national ownership — as well as a return to stability and prosperity — he described police components as essential and called for more attention to local capacity-building.
The representative of the Russian Federation, meanwhile, characterized police officers as a “link in the chain between the population and peacekeepers”. Underlining the importance of developing strong relations with host countries and listening closely 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. 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, he said.
The delegate of China joined other speakers in stressing that United Nations police 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. Describing political dialogue and economic development as the keys to lasting peace, he said China is delivering on its commitments to policing by forming the first standby contingent for United Nations peacekeeping and training officers from many countries. For its part, the Council must take stronger action on peacekeeper safety and security and enhance response capability in dealing with emergencies.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Belgium, South Africa, Dominican Republic, United States, Germany, Indonesia, Poland, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait, Peru and the United Kingdom.
The meeting began at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 5:50 p.m.
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.
MICHAEL BARKIN (United States) honoured United Nations police, stating that they help build critical rule of law in conflict States. He strongly supported an increase in women’s police participation in the effort to achieve gender parity. Describing assistance to policing provided by his country, he said more than 12,000 police have been trained for peace operations. In other areas, he encouraged Sudan to issue needed visas for police in Abyei. He stressed the need for adequate equipping and training for police. He said he looked forward to hearing more candid assessments of performance of police in the field as well as suggestions of how Member States can assist them, including in equipment needs. He finally asked how to increase the number of women in police contingents and what were the priorities in implementing the Strategic Guidance Framework.
Mr. LACROIX, responding to questions on performance evaluation tools, said that that the comprehensive performance assessment system, which covers all relevant aspects of execution of a mandate, has been deployed in six missions with more to be covered soon. It is a holistic evaluation tool that allows evaluation of different units from the point of view of accomplishment of the whole mandate. A specific tool for evaluating police units is also being used, which is followed by dialogue with contingencies to overcome any diagnosed weaknesses detected. Using both tools gives an accurate picture and has resulted in improvements in equipping, stronger protection of personnel, and awareness of issues of conduct and discipline, leading to reduction of incidents of abuse. The revision of standard procedures has also followed the assessments. A workshop will be held in December in Entebbe, Uganda on such matters.
In response to other questions, he said that women’s increased participation is an ongoing process that requires the provision of adequate training. Enhancement of gender-sensitive training is taking place, with appropriate conflict analysis included. On equipment needs, he said that there are still deficits in mine-protected vehicles and other areas, but new partnerships are being developed to fill the gaps. More police officers with skills in the local languages of the area of deployment is another gap that must be filled by contingents, he added, commenting that it is another area that requires more partnership.
Ms. GAHONZIRE said that there is a road map for the gender-parity effort. Some of the difficulties involved in implementing it are related to health, inadequate infrastructure and stereotyping.
Mr. ABDOUNASIR, also responding to questions posed, underlined the importance of not only tackling sexual violence crimes but also supporting victims and bringing perpetrators to account. “We have very limited capacity,” he said, adding MONUSCO therefore targets its work carefully for maximum impact. The Mission works alongside other partners, including the European Union, to support local authorities in effectively combating sexual violence. Noting that the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is now receding, he said the Mission supports local authorities in following up on cases of “high-risk contact” and in bringing people into care centres, when necessary. Responding to a question posed by the representative of Belgium regarding the work of the European Union in the country, he described a close relationship between MONUSCO’s police officers and their European counterparts. Among other things, the bloc helped to develop a framework for leadership training in many missions across Africa. Stressing that the question of civilian protection is one of public security, he said that task therefore falls under the scope of police work.
Mr. YACOUBA said the types of trainings provided by MINUSMA depends on the needs on the ground and is often targeted at combating organized crime. Police units provide advice and operational support in conjunction with EUCAP Sahel Mali. Following attacks by armed groups, MINUSMA is able to assist its Malian partners in the collection and analysis of forensic data, as it is the only entity present with those capacities. In Mali’s Mopti region, MINUSMA police units now conduct joint patrols alongside the Malian gendarmerie which are aimed at ensuring stability, and they served a similar function ahead of Mali’s June elections. Emphasizing that all of MINUSMA’s police activities aim to promote respect for human rights, he outlined “enormous needs” and called for a more localized approach to both the Mission’s military and security activities.
JUERGEN SCHULZ (Germany), paying tribute to all United Nations police contingents, said his country deploys police to peace operations, Chairs the Group of Friends of United Nations policing and provides support because its convinced of the importance of this sector. The full potential of United Nations police has not been tapped, however. Among other advances that could be made, police advice should be available in a non-mission conflict and police potential in conflict prevention could be better utilized. To accomplish more tasks, in addition, police should have a more prominent position in the United Nations structure. He welcomed the ambitious goals set in increasing the number of women police and added that policing should be addressed in the early stage of formulation of mission mandates. He asked if there is a stronger possible role for police in combating terrorism in Mali.
MUHSIN SYIHAB (Indonesia) said that police peacekeeping has become an important element of United Nations peacekeeping operations. As the challenges for peacekeeping operations have become more complex, their tasks have expanded to include protecting civilians, fighting transnational crime and building the capacity of local police. To fulfil its mandate effectively, the United Nations police peacekeepers must actively engage with the local community. Community engagement is crucial to gaining trust from the local population. Close engagement with local communities also helps to develop early-warning systems, better monitoring and police intelligence. The role of United Nations police in peacebuilding and sustaining peace needs to increase, he said, noting that strengthening the rule of law through police reform is among the key tasks of United Nations police in post-conflict situations. In addition, efforts must be redoubled to increase the participation of women in police peacekeeping.
JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland) said the importance of United Nations police in peacekeeping has been highlighted in Security Council resolutions, an external review and the Secretary-General’s assessment. The police division at United Nations Headquarters also faces a heavy load of tasks and responsibilities. As such, she raised the question of whether United Nations police is well-equipped in numbers and quality to provide this service, asking what they most need in terms of capabilities or tools. Considering commitments made by police-contributing countries in 2018, she asked if police commissioners have the necessary capabilities and skills to perform efficiently on the mission’s mandate. In particular, she highlighted the need for language and communication skills and the meaningful participation of female police officers in community policing.
VICENTE MBA ASUMU ABEME (Equatorial Guinea) said today’s meeting helps the Council understand, in greater detail, the current trends and needs in United Nations peacekeeping operations. Within those missions, police officers are one of the more important tools for achieving and maintaining peace. They therefore require the best available equipment and resources and must adhere to the highest standards of conduct and training. Noting that police units develop close relationships with local communities, he said they must be representative, receptive, responsible and effective. Welcoming strides made in improving missions’ effectiveness and inclusiveness since the Secretary-General launched his Action for Peacekeeping initiative, he asked the briefers to provide more information on barriers hampering the full integration of women into peace operations and to describe the impact of recent changes under the A4P programme.
BADER A. ALMUNAYEKH (Kuwait) welcomed the fact that police units have evolved to better respond to emerging challenges facing societies. Recalling that Council resolution 2382 (2017) called for the incorporation of police units to be considered in the deployment of peacekeeping operations, he said their inclusion should be explored at the very outset of a mandate and not delayed until later. Among other things, he echoed other speakers in underscoring the critical role played by women police officers in areas including outreach to communities and support to victims.
LUIS UGARELLI (Peru), acknowledging the importance of United Nations policing, said that the strategic guidance framework is a key tool to be applied in all areas. Respecting international humanitarian and human rights law is particularly important, he added. In the case of MINUSMA, he asked what the main problems were in policing at the community level. Building trust is critical in all situations, he added, asking about the efforts of police to build community ties in Bangui, Central African Republic. Noting that transnational crime often caused conflict, he asked about coordination through MONUSCO to fight that scourge. He paid tribute to all United Nations police personnel, particularly to those who have offered their lives in the cause of peace.
JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom), President of the Security Council for the month of November, speaking in his national capacity, said policing is more important than ever in United Nations peace operations. He asked what kind of police component in the follow up to UNAMID is being considered. United Nations police, he stressed, should be included in decision-making from the beginning of mission formulation. Host State needs and capacity must also be considered from the outset, so the police deployment has the appropriate capacity, with police trained to the highest standards. Affirming the importance of trust between police and the local population, he said that trust was more readily formed if there is a diversity of police officers. He asked to hear more about the obstacles that prevent women from becoming United Nations police.
In response to additional questions, Mr. LACROIX said that to make the environment in peacekeeping more welcoming for women, facilities have to be further addressed, even though work has already begun in that area. In addition, adequate training and sensitization has to be further refined. The possibility of shorter deployment could also make it easier for women to participate. He pointed to training sessions specifically instituted to help women prepare for peacekeeping. On the follow-on presence to UNAMID, he commented that policing there is already preparing for the transition, although it is a bit early to discuss actual modalities of policing that would follow UNAMID. Other needs for policing, including specific skills such as investigatory expertise and training programmes, are being developed in coordination with Member States. Specific skills are also being requested from police-contributing countries, he added.
Ms. FITAH-KONA said that in the Central African Republic, local-level police patrols are being carried out without weapons and with the participation of women. They are helping to bridge policing and the community, but many other factors are urgently required for security and stability, including support for the peace process from all stakeholders in the region.
Mr. ABDOUNASIR said that national and provincial mechanisms have been created to establish synergies to deal with cross-border crime in the region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but the challenges remain great. Challenges uncovered in the strategic review include loss of trust in the State institutions, restoration of State authority across the country and need for military support because of the protection requirements and the nature of the threats to civilians.
Ms. GAHONZIRE said the involvement of all actors — especially the women and children who suffer most from violence — is critical to all parts of UNISFA’s police work. That widespread engagement also extends to crime prevention campaigns, but implementation remains impossible because Abyei lacks a local police force. “The situation warrants more law enforcement,” she stressed, describing the lack of a local police force as the greatest challenge facing the Mission’s police units.
Mr. ABDOUNASIR, responding to a question about United Nations police officers’ work in helping to combat terrorism, said it is guided by Mali’s holistic strategy to combat terrorism. Specialized MINUSMA police brigades work with the justice system, while trained research brigades collect data related to terrorism. He also drew attention to the issue of political will, noting that the local police are essential for peace and security. Meanwhile, a lack of equipment continues to hamper deployment. “It’s not just physical presence on the ground that counts” but also the safety of police officers and their ability to carry out their work effectively, he said.