Women in United Nations Police Play Critical Role towards Fostering Community Trust, Protecting Most Vulnerable Groups, Speakers Tell Security Council
The United Nations police need to be properly prepared, equipped and resourced to address current challenges to peace and security, the Organization’s top peacekeeping official told the Security Council today, in a meeting held during United Nations Police Week.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, said that unique and specific police responses are required to counter challenges such as the growing incidence of conflict in dense settings, the continued expansion of transnational organized crime and violent extremism, increased risks from climate and cyberinsecurity, as well as increased demand for comprehensive national institutional capacity-building and police reform.
He went on to outline strategic priorities for United Nations police, in line with its Action for Peacekeeping Plus initiative, including ensuring coherence behind political strategies by United Nations entities to support a country’s political trajectory. In this context, he spotlighted work by the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) police in tandem with United Nations partners, the Congolese National Police and the Ministry of the Interior, to advance the United Nations Joint Police Reform Support Programme by strengthening human rights protection and fighting impunity, “which are all ingredients for a successful transition”.
The Peacekeeping Plus strategy also prioritizes greater strategic and operational integration across mission components, he continued, citing such collaboration in Mali between United Nations police and civilian and military counterparts to increase linkages between longer-term strategic planning and operational decision-making. The initiative also fosters the accountability of peacekeepers, he said, stressing that zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse is underscored through enhanced predeployment and in-mission training. Further, efforts are being stepped up to regularly assess performance, including through the development of proposed police-related impact indicators that will be discussed during Police Week.
Turning to the women, peace and security agenda, he said that steps are being taken to strengthen gender-responsive policing efforts to ensure the different security needs of women, men, girls and boys are considered, including through a robust network of gender advisers and police gender focal points. With support from Member States, the United Nations police has already achieved gender parity targets for 2025, with women currently comprising almost 1 in 5 United Nations police officers, including 31 per cent of individual police officers and 15 per cent of members of the formed police units, he said, pointing out that women now head five of nine police components in United Nations peacekeeping operations.
Mody Berethe, Police Commissioner for the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), highlighted the Mission’s aim to prioritize the needs of national partners in the current transitional context. The Mission has benefited from cooperation between 31 police-contributing countries, leading to the setting up of specialized police teams to combat sexual and gender-based violence. Such cooperation has helped professionalize specific units of the Congolese police and won over the local population, he added. Outlining various capacity-building efforts, including those to better help the national police fight against organized crime, he said that such cooperation helps mobilize national stakeholders, and also encourages them to assume responsibility of investigations into serious crimes against peacekeeping.
Christine Fossen, Police Commissioner for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), described the ongoing transition experienced by the Mission, as it goes from one anchored in static protection to one that is moving into a more intense phase of political engagement to support the full implementation of the transitional road map which envisages the holding of elections in South Sudan in December 2024. The Mission faces challenges, such as fractures in social cohesion, gender disparities and the proliferation of weapons, which fuel cycles of violence, of which sexual and gender-based violence is a harrowing hallmark, she said, enumerating steps taken to address such factors, including the creation by United Nations police of 185 police community relations committees to address gender-based violence, child protection and crime prevention in general.
Also briefing the Council was Emma Birikorang of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, who highlighted the democratizing effect of peacekeeping on the security sector in host communities and troop-contributing countries. She pointed out that several police-contributing countries are young democracies with checkered histories who may be grappling with their own internal security challenges. The mutually beneficial relationship between United Nations police in the peacekeeping theatre and upon their return home results in a domino effect of practical learning experience, she said, spotlighting in this regard Ghana’s formed police unit, originally established to deploy to international peacekeeping missions, which has been increasingly used for internal operations.
In the ensuing discussion, many speakers emphasized the need for greater gender representation in United Nations policing, with several underscoring the vital role female police officers play in fostering trust with local communities and protecting the most vulnerable groups, including women and children.
Among them was the representative of Gabon, who underscored the essential role of women within police components, particularly in the outreach activities, peace and peacekeeping processes, noting that their presence encourages women to become more involved. In most cases of sexual violence or in the context of fighting crime, local communities are more open to interacting with female police officers. Increasing the number of women in the police components of peace operations constitutes a major challenge that the Organization must take on, she added.
In a similar vein, the representative of the United States said that women’s integration into peacekeeping “has come far, but not far enough”, citing studies that have shown that the presence of women in peacekeeping promotes community trust and increases a mission’s ability to engage with women and girls, who are disproportionately affected by conflict. Pointing out that peacekeepers who perform better are better at keeping themselves and others safe, he underlined the need for regular assessments of in-mission performance, while welcoming efforts to strengthen the doctrinal and curricular framework for United Nations policing — which provides the foundation for strong peacekeeping performance.
Meanwhile, the representative of Brazil stressed the importance of strategic communications to peacekeepers’ safety and security, calling for two-way communication with the local authorities and local society, as well as other partners, to dispel unrealistic expectations and to clarify the actions undertaken by missions, with a view to counter misinformation and disinformation campaigns against them. Such efforts can help prevent episodes of violence against peacekeepers and mission facilities such as those witnessed in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said.
Echoing such concerns, the representative of Ghana, Council President for the month, speaking in his national capacity, was among several delegates underscoring the need for accountability for crimes perpetrated against peacekeepers. “Despite consistent mobilization as well as the adoption of Security Council resolution 2589 (2021), accountability to peacekeepers remains relatively low compared to the growing number of violent incidents against peacekeepers,” he said, calling for the United Nations continued engagement with host countries, including in the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali, to achieve this goal.
For her part, the delegate of the Russian Federation spotlighted the principle of “national ownership”, underlining the importance of professionally trained and well-equipped police officers to train local personnel. As well, there is a need to establish constructive communication with the host country and take the priorities it defines into account. The Russian Federation conducts courses for local and foreign law enforcement personnel through the certified programmes at the Peacekeeping Training Centre of the All-Russian Institute of Advanced Training of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, she said, adding that more than 2,500 highly skilled professional police officers have been trained to date. The curriculum is designed for law enforcement officers from developing African States, focusing on women police, she added.
Also speaking today were representatives of Albania, China, Kenya, United Arab Emirates, Norway, Ireland, Mexico, India, United Kingdom and France.
The meeting began at 10:02 a.m. and ended at 12:52 p.m.
JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, said the annual briefing to the Security Council offers an opportunity to reaffirm the vital role that United Nations police play across the conflict prevention spectrum — from peacekeeping to peacebuilding — and to discuss its achievements over the past year, as well as its strategic priorities. Unique and specific police responses are required to address challenges to peace and security, including the growing incidence of conflict in dense settings; continued expansion of transnational organized crime and violent extremism; increased risks from climate and cyberinsecurity; and greater demand for comprehensive national institutional capacity-building and police reform. The United Nations police need to be properly prepared, equipped and resourced to address such conditions. Against this backdrop, he welcomed pledges of policing-related support by Member States at the 2022 United Nations Chiefs of Police Summit and the 2021 Seoul United Nations Peacekeeping Ministerial to help enhance the performance and environmentally responsive impact of peacekeeping operations, in line with priorities set out in the Action for Peacekeeping Plus strategy.
He went on to outline key priorities for United Nations policing, in line with the Action for Peacekeeping Plus initiative, including ensuring coherence behind political strategies by United Nations entities to support a country’s political trajectory. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, work by the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) police in tandem with United Nations partners, the Congolese National Police and the Ministry of the Interior advance the United Nations Joint Police Reform Support Programme by strengthening human rights protection and fighting impunity, “which are all ingredients for a successful transition”.
The Peacekeeping Plus strategy also prioritizes greater strategic and operational integration across mission components, he said, citing such collaboration in Mali between United Nations police and civilian and military counterparts to increase linkages between longer-term strategic planning and operational decision-making. This too is occurring in Somalia, where the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) police and the multidimensional African Union Transition Mission in Somalia, Federal Government of Somalia, African Union and the European Union, among others, are working together with the aim of handing over security responsibilities to Somali counterparts by the end of 2024. The Inter-Agency Task Force on Policing, established last year, will facilitate even greater coherence between the United Nations police and other United Nations entities involved in aspects of policing and law enforcement.
The Action for Peacekeeping Plus initiative’s third priority aims to enhance capabilities and mindsets by aligning predeployment training by Member States with the Organization’s in-mission training, he continued, adding that performance metrics are being monitored by the Police Division and the Department of Operational Support to ensure that the capabilities of deployed formed police units match their mandated tasks. In line with the Peacekeeping Plus initiative’s fourth priority, to ensure the highest levels of accountability to peacekeepers, he pointed out that efforts to this end are structured by the Action Plan to Improve the Security of United Nations Peacekeepers, which is now in its fourth iteration. To advance this goal, United Nations police has conducted in-mission performance assessment and evaluation team visits to missions in the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and South Sudan this year, during which critical areas, such as command and control structures, contingent-owned equipment and training, were examined. Steps have also been taken to foster gender-responsive working environments and accommodations, including by strengthening women’s networks within missions, he added.
Turning to the Peacekeeping Plus initiative’s fifth priority — the accountability of peacekeepers — he stressed that zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse is underscored through enhanced predeployment and in-mission training. Efforts are being stepped up to regularly assess performance, including through the development of proposed police-related impact indicators that will be discussed during Police Week. To advance the Peacekeeping Plus initiative’s sixth priority — amplifying the positive impact of United Nations police’s presence through enhanced strategic communications — engagement has been undertaken on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, and steps have been taken to proactively counter misinformation, disinformation and hate speech.
To advance the Action for Peacekeeping Plus initiative’s seventh priority, efforts are being taken to improve cooperation with host countries during transitions, including in Darfur, where experts from the Standing Police Capacity are helping the Mission with the establishment of its Monitoring Support Component and operationalizing the ceasefire mechanisms as part of the Juba Peace Agreement, he said. Turning to the women, peace and security agenda, he said that steps are being taken to strengthen gender-responsive policing efforts to ensure the different security needs of women, men, girls and boys are considered, including through a robust network of gender advisers and police gender focal points. With support from Member States, the United Nations police has already achieved gender parity targets for 2025, with women currently comprising almost one in five United Nations police officers, including 31 per cent of individual police officers and 15 per cent of members of the formed police units, he said, pointing out that women now head five of nine police components in United Nations peacekeeping operations.
MODY BERETHE, Police Commissioner, United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) briefed the Council via videoconference about the efforts of the Mission’s police to improve their performance. The police component of the Mission is made up of 384 individual police officers, a mandated total of 591, with 1,223 formed police unit elements. All of the personnel are currently deployed in five sectors in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Recalling the evaluation of the various competences and specific needs of the Mission, he spotlighted its aim to prioritize various elements of know-how that meet the needs of the national partners in the current transitional context of the Mission.
He also outlined the ongoing communication with 31 police-contributing countries, which allows for information sharing on the quality of the unified police units and identification of specific skills needed for specialized teams. This cooperation has allowed the Mission to obtain specialized police teams in combatting sexual and gender-based violence, which has won over the trust of the local population through their know-how and commitment to professionalize the specific units of the Congolese police. This has also encouraged the creation of other such teams.
During the deployment, training continues to enable the officers to bolster their skills and ensure an objective measurement of their performances, pursuant to various follow-up and monitoring systems, he continued. The Comprehensive Planning and Performance Assessment System measures the impact of United Nations police on the ground. The police component has also established a monitoring and evaluation mechanism that consists of systematically collecting information on the implementation of the annual work plan. This allows for verifying how the units on the ground are working and looks at the performance of each office and unit to identify shortfalls and shortcomings.
Turning to the International Strategy to Combating Insecurity, he underlined the importance of this tool in combatting crime in the urban areas. The Strategy has enabled responses to 223,000 phone calls from the population, resulting in over 17,000 police response actions and over 4,500 arrests. With these assistance systems, relevant instruments have been created to measure the achievements of the national police and allow for the evaluation of the units’ individual and collective commitment.
Turning to the deployment of capacity-building teams on organized crime, he noted that the national police has benefited from training in intelligence and investigations techniques, including kidnaping for ransom and the illicit trafficking of minerals and various other forms of crime. These techniques to combat terrorism are an opportunity to transfer skills of managing crime scenes to the Congolese police officers. They also are an opportunity to contribute to the national efforts to eradicate the spread of small arms and light weapons. Moreover, the units have lent their support to more than 212 investigations of various forms of assistance to the Congolese counterparts, including assistance in complicated investigations regarding the use of improvised explosive devices.
He further stressed that cooperation with the national police goes beyond issues of evaluation and constitutes a way to contribute to the security of United Nations personnel deployed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The United Nations police contribute to mobilizing national stakeholders, encouraging them to assume their responsibility of the investigations into serious crimes against peacekeeping, as well as participate in the joint efforts with other entities to work within the criminal justice system. Support in technical and scientific police goes beyond the national police also into military justice and has resulted in a number of arrests being facilitated for serious crimes and crimes against humanity. In addition, MONUSCO has equipped its formed police units with advanced technological means, such as drones, to increase the safety of their camps and is working closely with relevant stakeholders to contribute to the Action for Peace initiative.
CHRISTINE FOSSEN, Police Commissioner, United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), said the protection of civilians in South Sudan remains at the heart of what the Mission does and is a mutually reinforcing component of other parts of its mandate. UNMISS has largely transitioned from a Mission anchored in static protection to one that is focused on mobility and meeting protection needs where they are greatest. It is also moving into a more intense phase of political engagement to support the full implementation of the transitional road map which envisages the holding of elections in South Sudan in December 2024. In that regard, United Nations police is doubling down on efforts across all three tiers of protection, in the context of a clear political strategy laid out in the Mission’s strategic vision for 2021-2024.
The challenges, however, include fractures in social cohesion, the proliferation of weapons and gender disparities — all of which continue to fuel cycles of subnational violence, of which sexual and gender-based violence is a harrowing hallmark, she pointed out. Together with the South Sudan national police service, the United Nations police is conducting outreach activities to help improve the relationship between law enforcement agencies and the people they serve, especially women and children, youth and community leaders. United Nations police have created 185 police community relations committees to address gender-based violence, child protection and crime prevention in general. Specifically, more police community relations committees were created in and outside the internally displaced persons camp in Bentiu, as well as in Koch, Pariang and Leer to address concerns of sexual and gender-based violence and conflict-related sexual violence. The goal is to identify hotspot areas, she added, noting that the information also feeds into early warning prevention and response efforts. Given its limited reach, however, the Government must further take up its responsibilities in protecting its own civilians, she stressed, citing other gender-responsive initiatives of the United Nations police.
Turning to another area of protection, she said the United Nations police has extended its physical presence through increased participation in integrated civilian-military-police patrols and deployments to temporary operating bases. This follows the redesignation of all but one protection of civilians site, which has freed up its capacity to expand the United Nations police footprint around and beyond the internally displaced persons camps, she pointed out. Moreover, it is providing individual mentoring, advising and assistance to the officers of the South Sudan national police service. Through 12 recently completed quick-impact projects, United Nations police is also accelerating the presence of the South Sudan national police services in areas of civilian concentration, including in conflict hotspots and areas of return.
She went on to say that the United Nations police is also supporting rule of law institutions to promote accountability and access to justice, including through technical support to the South Sudan national police service on crime scene management, arrest and detention, and ethics and anti-corruption awareness. With elections on the horizon, capacity-building support to South Sudanese law enforcement agencies is needed, upon the invitation of the host Government, in elections security policing, public order management and training. Noting the recent graduation of the Necessary Unified Forces and the need to foster a professionalized national police service, she pointed out that there are low baselines of education and literacy and women are underrepresented in leadership positions. Due to a lack of logistical support, graduating police have limited resources — from pens and paper to vehicles — to carry out their most basic duties. Moreover, the absence of a judiciary system means there is a low application of the penal code, which limits the space for victim-centred responses where survivors can seek redress through the formal justice chain.
Noting a generally positive working relationship with the host Government, she said the Action for Peace Plus initiative provides a useful framework for enhancing the effectiveness of the United Nations police in the protection of civilians and in aligning the support of Member States. She welcomed the deployment of more female peacekeepers to support all aspects of the women, peace and security agenda, highlighting that UNMISS as a gender parity champion has already surpassed its uniformed gender parity targets. Women now represent 37.5 per cent of individual police officers and 25 per cent of formed police units. To incentivize the participation of women in peacekeeping and in accordance with the Elsie Initiative guidelines, UNMISS has adopted design specifications and guidance on facilities and infrastructure to improve the living conditions in its field offices. However, continued resource support is needed to implement those objectives given high costs, long procurement timeframes and many logistical challenges.
While the United Nations police strives towards tech-enabled, data driven peacekeeping, it faces hurdles such as unstable Internet and electricity in austere field conditions, she said, welcoming additional capacity to support joint and integrated planning. Expressing pride in the hardworking United Nations police team in UNMISS, she said: “We’ll continue to need boots on the ground to walk the extra mile: not necessarily ‘niche’ experts but proactive and resourceful officers with good education and predeployment training who are ready to roll up their sleeves in the world’s newest nation.”
EMMA BIRIKORANG, Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, stressed that peacekeeping missions are expected to be the embodiment of international norms of human rights. Noting that many peacekeepers from police-contributing countries have completed tours in difficult and complex terrains, she highlighted the vital need for preparations before their duty tours, post-operations debriefing, top-up training and skills enhancements. Peacekeeping has a democratizing effect on the security sector in host communities and troop-contributing countries, she said, emphasizing the importance of a political process that is inclusive and sensitive to local dynamics. Several police-contributing countries are young democracies with checkered histories who may be grappling with their own internal security challenges. This results in a mutually beneficial relationship between United Nations police in the peacekeeping theatre and upon their return home, she pointed out.
Highlighting “the domino effect of this practical learning experience”, she added that institutional norms and standards practiced during peacekeeping operations are often transposed formally into the police service of the contributing country. Another interlinked effect is the strengthening of the legitimacy of domestic security relations through peacekeeping, she said, adding that United Nations police is the one entity that has regular and direct interaction with host communities. Highlighting the example of Ghana, she noted that it has engaged in international peacekeeping for several decades and has deployed its police officers to several missions. Through these experiences, Ghana established the formed police unit which was originally established to deploy to international peacekeeping missions but has been increasingly used for internal operations, she said.
Also noting the positive multiplier effect of women’s full equal participation in peace and political processes, she said that the United Nations often gives percentage quotas to troop- and police-contributing countries. This has dual benefits for the host community as well as the troop- or police-contributing countries, she said, commending the positive roles played by female police in peacekeeping missions and their influence on host countries. Female police officers are instrumental in the aftermath of conflict, during disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes. Calling for adaptability, operational readiness and strategic and operational integration, she underscored that police-contributing countries have maximized their participation in peacekeeping to benefit not only fragile host countries but their own societies.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) pointed out that the international community continues to spend time and resources reacting to conflict, and not enough on preventing it. Prevention requires strengthening national political, security, justice, rule-of-law and socioeconomic institutions, along with making societies more resilient to violent conflict. To this end, he stressed that the United Nations police should be a key component in peace operations in the areas of conflict analysis, early warning and prevention. They have first-hand information and know how to interact with people in local communities, which helps them better understand the drivers of conflict and identify why increased tensions can develop in particular communities. He also noted that women have proved successful in accessing communities and creating relationships of trust with local populations — particularly with the most vulnerable — and, therefore, he underlined the need to recruit and retain female police personnel. He added that this may also yield further positive impact, as increasing the number of female police officers will encourage more women from the countries in which the United Nations police operates to participate in public life. Further, it would help dismantle stereotypes and assumptions that impede women’s ability to play a central role in peacebuilding processes.
GENG SHUANG (China) said United Nations police must be given greater support to help them contend with new tasks and new challenges amid a complex and evolving environment in which they provide a vital security umbrella. The Council must think about how to advance this goal so that the expectations of people and vulnerable groups in conflict areas are better met. Steps must be taken to build capacity in combating violent crime and to work towards the overall goal of resolving hotspot issues. In this regard, he spotlighted the important role played by the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) in fighting against crime and ensuring civilians’ safety, as well as strengthening law enforcement and judicial institutions. Strengthened linkages are needed in training to equip personnel with a full skill-set to help them carry out their responsibilities. As well, comparative performance evaluations are needed across all missions, as well as targeted work done to address weaknesses. Turning to gender equality, he welcomed the United Nations police meeting gender parity targets, adding that such positive momentum should be maintained through a continued focus on the training and promotion of women police officers. He underscored the need to ensure personnel’s personal safety, in light of heightened security risks, through the full implementation of resolution 2518 (2020), particularly with respect to early warning, intelligence sharing, and risk assessment. Customized equipment should also be provided, and police officers should interact well with local populations to clarify misinformation and disinformation in a timely manner.
MICHAEL KAPKIAI KIBOINO (Kenya) said that the United Nations police must be an integral player in all stages of planning and executing various peace operations and special political missions. This will assist in guaranteeing that policing-related activities in mandates are appropriate and realistic and critical to ensuring a system-wide approach to the rule of law, including corrections services. He also stressed that there is a need for more cooperation between the United Nations and international, regional and subregional organizations, with a special emphasis on training, experience sharing and information exchange in the area of policing. Kenya’s International Peace Support Training Centre is available for such interactions. Underlining the importance of protecting all United Nations police officers, he called for enhanced collaboration and coordination with host communities and security services towards this end. Further, all such officers should aim to gain and maintain the acceptance and trust of host communities. To achieve this, they must display the highest levels of discipline, dedication to duty and respect for the people they serve. Police-contributing countries should ensure that all police personnel to be deployed are properly vetted and trained, he added, also underlining the need to incentivize greater participation for women.
AMEIRAH OBAID MOHAMED OBAID ALHEFEITI (United Arab Emirates) said “we know from experience” the value that female police officers bring to peace operations, including increasing community engagement, improving situational awareness and developing early warning systems. Increasing their participation, however, will depend on the Organization’s ability to ensure appropriate living conditions and specific infrastructure, which should be prioritized in all missions. She also said that, more broadly, efforts must continue to ensure the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in political processes. Turning to the use of technology and innovation in peace operations, she spotlighted that the United Arab Emirates — in cooperation with the International Security Alliance — organized the first virtual-reality-based live exercise to solve a simulated terrorist attack. Adding that peace operations are not created to be permanent fixtures, she stressed that — while police components play a key role in developing the capacity of local police — only national ownership can guarantee the sustainability of gains made throughout the operation of peace missions in their host countries. She also recalled that her country hosted the latest annual conference of the heads of police components of United Nations peace operations and will sponsor the next United Nations Chiefs of Police Summit, to be held in New York in 2024.
LILLY STELLA NGYEMA NDONG (Gabon) noted that through the outreach activities, police components often constitute a direct link between Peacekeeping Operations and the local populations. She, thus, underscored the crucial role of the training and capacity-building of police components. Training must take into account both the changing nature of the threats and the specific reality on the ground in preparation of field trainings, the formulation mandates and the choice and supply of equipment. This would ensure better protection of civilian populations and improve their perception of peacekeepers, as well as bolster the security of the soldiers. She further underscored the essential role of women within police components, particularly in the outreach activities, peace and peacekeeping processes, noting that their presence encourages women to become more involved. In most cases of sexual violence or in the context of fighting crime, local communities are more open to interacting with female police officers. Increasing the number of women in the police components of peace operations constitutes a major challenge that the Organization must take on. She further underscored Gabon's support for the Action for Peacekeeping Plus initiative, which makes accelerated implementation of the women, peace and security agenda a major priority. She then asked Police Commissioner Berethe to provide more details on the current capacity-building efforts of the national police. She also asked what the overall state of mind of the population has been following the events in July this year and what the Council could do to improve the efficiency of the police component.
TRINE SKARBOEVIK HEIMERBACK (Norway) encouraged the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions to enhance efforts to lead an inclusive “one UN” approach to police, justice and corrections in peace operations. As the United Nations police depends on police-contributing countries, changes in United Nations recruitment policy and training programs, as well as the organization of important events, including the United Nations Chiefs of Police Summit, would benefit from a broader consultation with Member States. The United Nations police, along with other entities of the Office of the Rule of Law and Security Institutions, has an important role to play in delivering technical assistance and capacity to help host State law enforcement and core justice institutions address new threats, such as terrorism and violent extremism, while protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. Underscoring that the United Nations police can play a critical role in transition contexts, she emphasized that the move from peacekeeping to peacebuilding must be inclusive, nationally owned and have a strong focus on protection of civilians, including children, to be successful. In that regard, the United Nations police has a pivotal role in providing training and support to enhance States’ capacity to protect their own civilians. She then asked the briefers how the rule of law component can be better incorporated in peace operations and what measures can be taken to enhance the work of the United Nations police against terrorism and organized crime.
CAÍT MORAN (Ireland) stressed that the Peacekeeping Plus strategy should continue to provide the framework to support United Nations police to develop policing capabilities, advance the women, peace and security agenda and improve accountability. She highlighted her country’s contribution to peacekeeping, including its current deployment to the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). United Nations police must offer support and training to host Governments, civil society including women’s networks as well as police and security sector actors, she said. This will enable the development of mechanisms and environments that engage and protect local communities, including women, in a bid to build sustainable peace. Also stressing that peacekeeping operations must have the right capabilities in the right place and at the right time, she encouraged efforts to address serious and organized crime, and to prevent, investigate and prosecute crimes against peacekeepers. Highlighting the need for strategic communications, she called on United Nations police to support this by engaging local actors and fostering mutual trust and dialogue.
CÍCERO TOBIAS DE OLIVEIRA FREITAS (Brazil) said the Council should explore ways to strengthen the contribution of United Nations police to realizing the Action for Peacekeeping Plus initiative. As well, the United Nations police can play a fundamental role in promoting the women, peace and security agenda. Female police officers are especially well-suited to protecting vulnerable groups such as women and children and promoting women`s participation and strengthening community engagement. Thus, it is necessary to ensure that women fill command and leadership roles. Given the importance of appropriate training, Brazilian police personnel deployed to United Nations missions must undergo additional training at the Sérgio Vieira de Mello Peace Operations Joint Training Centre, run by the Brazilian Armed Forces. Highlighting the importance of strategic communications to peacekeepers’ safety and security, he said an appropriate explanation of the mandate and two-way communication with the local authorities, local society and other partners can help dispel unrealistic expectations and clarify the actions undertaken by missions. This would help counter misinformation and disinformation campaigns against missions and prevent episodes of violence against peacekeepers and mission facilities such as those witnessed in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said.
ROBERT A. WOOD (United States) highlighted his country’s support of the United Nations police, noting that his nation has provided more than $80 million to help prepare police personnel for peacekeeping missions. Peacekeepers who perform better are better at keeping themselves and others safe, he said, noting that “performance promotes safety and security”. While welcoming efforts to strengthen the doctrinal and curricular framework for United Nations policing — which provides the foundation for strong peacekeeping performance — he underlined the need for regular assessments of in-mission performance. He went on to emphasize the critical role played by women, stating that police peacekeeping units with greater gender representation are more effective. Further, studies have shown that the presence of women in peacekeeping promotes community trust and increases a mission’s ability to engage with women and girls, who are disproportionately affected by conflict. He added that women’s integration into peacekeeping “has come far, but not far enough”. He then asked the MONUSCO and UNMISS Police Commissioners about how climate insecurity is impacting their work, also inquiring about their experiences with misinformation and disinformation, how they are combatting the same and what the Security Council can do to help in this regard.
ENRIQUE JAVIER OCHOA MARTÍNEZ (Mexico), affirming the important role played by United Nations police in ensuring law and order and protecting civilians, underlined the need to strengthened support for them, including through training adapted to help them face complex security challenges on the ground, which are often characterized by asymmetric conflict. In addition, tools are needed to address the mental health needs of United Nations police officers before, during and after deployment. He also stressed the need to develop the capacity of national institutions, bolstered by a strategy that goes beyond the military arena, pointing out that support for national law enforcement is essential to bring about a democratic governance framework that is indispensable to achieving lasting peace. Highlighting the role of police in deactivating tension and fostering dialogue on the local level, through interactions with conflict-affected communities, he pointed out that in Haiti, strengthening the capacity of national police will be crucial to the transition process of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Turning to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the perceptions of the local population have been demonstrated to be decisive to that Mission’s performance, he underlined the importance of strategic communication to disseminate information about the scope and limits of peacekeeping missions and mandates. Further, he emphasized the need for accountability of United Nations police and reiterated the importance of the full, equal participation of women police officers.
RUCHIRA KAMBOJ (India) said deployment of formed police units should be based on clear and achievable mandates supported by adequate resources. Their mandates also must be clearly aligned with the tasks they are trained to handle and distinct from those of peacekeeping troops. United Nations police and military contingents must start operating together and with other agencies, she stressed, adding that developing joint training and operating protocols is critical in that regard. Also, police-contributing countries must be involved at all levels of decision-making on police deployment and planning, as well as transition and exit strategies. On the ground, closer coordination between the United Nations police, host Government’s law enforcement machinery and the civilian population is essential to improving the efficiency of policing in the context of a mission. Underscoring the indispensable role of women police officers and peacekeepers, she highlighted that the Indian female formed unit in the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) helped increase participation of Liberian women in the security sector from 6 per cent in 2007 when they were first deployed to 17 per cent when they left the mission in 2016.
ANNA M. EVSTIGNEEVA (Russian Federation) underscored the importance of professionally trained and well-equipped police officers to train local personnel, spotlighting the principle of “national ownership”. She pointed out the need to establish constructive communication with the host country and take the priorities it defines into account. She also addressed the importance of engaging with the population to provide clarifications of the missions’ mandate to “win trust”. Depending on the national, cultural and religious characteristics of the communities, women peacekeepers can play a particular role in establishing such communication. However, the focus should not be on the pursuit of quantitative gender indicators, but rather on the experience, professionalism and competence of officers, while adhering to the principle of broad geographical representation. The Russian Federation conducts courses for local and foreign law enforcement personnel through the certified programmes at the Peacekeeping Training Centre of the All-Russian Institute of Advanced Training of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. More than 2,500 highly skilled professional police officers have been trained to date. The curriculum is designed for law enforcement officers from developing African States, focusing on women police.
JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom), noting that “we can sometimes forget” how important unarmed approaches are when talking about the protection of civilians, spotlighted the complementary nature of armed and unarmed activity. It is essential to consider the full range of tools to prevent and respond to civilian threats, he said, noting that the United Nations police are often the first and the last to meet with the local population during a crisis response; they need to establish strong relationships with those populations. Also welcoming the ongoing implementation of the Integrated Peacekeeping Performance and Accountability Framework as well as Comprehensive Planning and Performance Assessment System, he said that better performance means better missions. There should be more of a focus on institution-building and specialist capabilities, rather than simply on the number of personnel deployed. These skills support sustainable peace and restoration of the rule of law, he pointed out.
ISIS MARIE DORIANE JARAUD-DARNAULT (France), emphasizing that the United Nations police are an essential component of peacekeeping, said that, in some missions, police planners are present for integrated strategic planning. This allows a better link between short-term operational-planning objectives and long-term strategic-planning objectives. This is particularly important to better prepare for transition phases, she added. She went on to underline the efforts of the United Nations police to protect civilians and strengthen the capacities of host States’ internal security forces, spotlighting preventative patrols conducted in South Sudan, bridges built with the population in the Central African Republic and police officers trained in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Pointing out that the United Nations police have been able to conduct reforms to meet the new requirements of police operations, she welcomed success in strengthening women’s role and place in police ranks, which exceeded the objectives set out in the Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy. She added that the complexity of missions entrusted to the United Nations police increasingly requires specialized police capabilities that fully address the challenges identified in the Strategy for the Digital Transformation of United Nations Peacekeeping.
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana), Council President for November, speaking in his national capacity, said that, as the seventh largest troop‑ and police- contributing country, his country has witnessed first-hand the critical contributions of United Nations policing in stabilizing many conflict situations. He welcomed the Department of Peace Operations and field missions’ efforts to ensure accountability for crimes against peacekeepers. “Despite consistent mobilization as well as the adoption of Security Council resolution 2589 (2021), accountability to peacekeepers remains relatively low compared to the growing number of violent incidents against peacekeepers,” he said, adding that the United Nations must keep working with host countries to demand accountability for crimes against peacekeepers, including in the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali. He spotlighted innovative technological solutions addressing challenges to peacekeepers, including the UNITE Aware platform by the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), as well as the ongoing assessments of the Department of Peace Operations on the nature of the threat posed to missions by misinformation and disinformation. He encouraged the full implementation of the women, peace and security agenda by United Nations police and the Department of Operational Support, to ensure the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in all stages of the peace process and by systematically integrating a gender perspective into analysis, planning, implementation and reporting. He underlined the importance of peacekeeper accountability, voicing support for the United Nations police’s efforts to improve evidence-based assessments of performance and to ensure adherence to standards of conduct by reinforcing zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse. Further, in line with General Assembly resolution 76/274 (2022), he encouraged strengthened efforts aimed at reducing the overall environmental footprint of peacekeeping operations.
Mr. LACROIX, responding to Norway’s question on strengthening the role of the United Nations police in combatting terrorism, stressed the importance of systems being developed, such as UNITE Aware, in the context of the Organization’s peacekeeping’s digital transformation strategy. Underscoring the importance of optimizing collaboration, he noted the recent establishment of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Policing, which is co-chaired by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, colleagues in the Office of Counter-Terrorism, as well as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna for better coordination of police component actions. Within the police division, a team with focal points is in charge of addressing organized crime and cooperates with colleagues on the ground, as well as the Brindisi standing police. This aims to strengthen early warning capabilities, threat assessments and awareness. Through cooperation with other international organizations, such as the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and its regional bodies, the United Nations police is able to further develop measures to respond to terrorism and organized crime, he said, noting its important role as well in fighting misinformation and disinformation.
Ms. FOSSEN, spotlighting the “whole of mission” approach, outlined interlinked activities and underscored the importance of the “walk the talk” approach. On how to better respond to threats to peacekeepers, she stressed the importance of building good relations with host Governments, regardless of ongoing conflicts and post-conflict situations. In addition, good predeployment and mission-specific training was important, she said, underscoring the need for well-trained officers from the peacekeeping-contributing countries with mission-specific skillsets. Also of importance was explaining the conditions and the cultural environment through respective induction trainings to peacekeepers. Women play a critical role in establishing close contacts in the field environment, she added, pointing out the need of providing constant security and protection to peacekeeping officers. Addressing the impact of climate change, she noted that South Sudan is being affected by floodings that cause difficulties in food distribution, which create tensions that consequently affect the security and delivery of humanitarian assistance. Turning to disinformation, she pointed out the Mission’s efforts in data-driven peacekeeping and intelligence-led policing. She also spotlighted the challenges related to bad infrastructure, lack of internet access and the level of literacy in achieving this goal. Noting that to gather information, one needs to “go out and talk to people”, she said that the Mission is not able to use information and communication systems in full. The Mission currently focuses on building capacity in systems safety management plans as its main mandate, she noted.
Mr. BERETHE said that his Mission’s work in the Democratic Republic of Congo is characterized by humility. Highlighting its transitional context, he said that when the Council established the parameters for the transition, the Mission turned to political and strategic discussions to ensure that the transition process is based on national leadership. The host country is on its third five‑year plan for developing police capacity, he said, adding that the current focus is on ensuring that the country can meet its security needs and enabling greater integration between peace operations and other United Nations entities. Noting the Secretary-General’s instruction to set up a joint programme for capacity-building of the national police, he added that the country remains open to bilateral and multilateral cooperation and is working with the European Union, United States, France and other partners. Turning to the question regarding the mindset, he said there is a defiance towards the presence of the Mission. “We are associated with the problem,” he observed, adding that the Mission’s work is overall positive against this background. While the Mission often becomes a scapegoat, the operational strategies it has implemented have helped ensure community policing.
Ms. BIRIKORANG, responding to the representative of Ireland’s question concerning adaptive peacekeeping, said that such peacekeeping should be flexible and responsive to the operational environment in which peacekeepers operate. It should also be country-specific. Recalling her interactions with peacekeepers while training them in Ghana, she said that she was told that the rules of engagement — meant to keep peacekeepers accountable — can be disabling. On that point, she stressed that, while it is important to have norms in peacekeeping, peacekeepers cannot have their hands tied as they are adapting to certain operational environments. They must be given the range to operate and interact with local communities and vulnerable groups, and they must have the right equipment for the terrain in which they operate.
Turning to the issue of local ownership, she underlined the need to trust the judgment of local actors in resolving their own challenges. In many environments in which peacekeepers operate, a hybrid security method already exists — through, for example, local chiefs, traditional authorities or community-based or civil society groups — and these actors must be integrated into the policing of local communities. She underscored that successful peacekeeping missions are the ones that have adaptability in mandates and operations, flexibility in action and the right tools to operate in complex environments. On the question posed by the representative of the United States concerning how climate change affects peacekeeping, she stated that climate insecurity is a major threat in Africa. The desperation among young people looking for ways to live often leads to crime, which threatens peacekeeping missions. She suggested, therefore, that the international community ensure that fragile countries can adapt to the dire effects of climate change.