Police stations, courthouses and prisons are frequently dilapidated and in some cases completely destroyed following a conflict. Key legal records and other necessary materials are often missing. Typically, the independence of the judiciary is weak and their salaries low and often unpaid, which provides a fertile ground for corruption. Prisons suffer from extreme overcrowding, lack of food, absence of adequate medical care and poor sanitation. Political interference is often rampant and oversight mechanisms non-existent or biased. The absence of functioning rule of law institutions is a key driver of continued violent conflict.
The UN system addresses police, justice and corrections issues simultaneously, and it deploys police, judicial and corrections officers in conflict and post-conflict environments. The UN system works with national authorities to develop comprehensive plans that include rebuilding or constructing new police stations, courthouses and prisons, as well as to develop the local capacity and human resources needed to ensure that these institutions can function. United Nations peacekeeping operations and special political missions provide crucial support to national authorities to reestablish basic police, justice and corrections institutions in the aftermath of conflict. They also help to develop strategies aimed at rebuilding sustainable and inclusive justice sector institutions that can contribute to lasting peace by promoting the peaceful resolution of disputes and a secure environment. Their work helps to deter violence, provide remedies to victims, hold perpetrators criminally accountable through fair trials and ensure safe, secure and humane imprisonment, thereby instilling public trust and confidence in rule of law mechanisms.
In September 2012, the Secretary-General appointed the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as the Global Focal Point for Police, Justice and Corrections Areas in the Rule of Law in Post-conflict and other Crisis Situations (GFP). Its aim is to provide better police, justice and corrections services from UN Headquarters to UN peacekeeping missions, special political missions and non-mission settings. The GFP focuses on creating more integrated ways of working among DPKO, UNDP, co-located partners like OHCHR and UN Women, and the broader UN system.