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UN Policing: Heads of Police Components Briefing*

Tomorrow (6 November), the Security Council will receive a briefing on UN policing from Under-Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix and the heads of police components of three UN peacekeeping operations: Unaisi Lutu Vuniwaqa, UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Police Commissioner; Awale Abdounasir, UN Organization Stabilization Operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) Police Commissioner; and Serge Therriault, UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) Police Commissioner. A civil society briefer, Tuesday Reitano, the Deputy Director of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime, is also expected to participate in the meeting. No formal outcome is anticipated.

Briefings with the heads of police components have been held in the Council annually since 2014, when this meeting was initiated by then-Council member Australia. Following the briefings, Council members are expected to make statements and ask questions of the briefers. This interactive format mirrors the annual briefing by heads of military components to the Council, held since 2010.

Like last year, Lacroix is expected to focus on strategic priorities of UN police components. He may discuss the role of UN policing in the context of the Declaration of Shared Commitments on UN Peacekeeping Operations, currently signed by 150 member states, that grew out of the Secretariat’s Action for Peacekeeping Initiative. This could include, for example, a focus on how UN police components can most effectively protect civilians, enhance the skills and capacity of their personnel, and contribute to advancing political solutions to conflict. His briefing could also describe how the Department of Peacekeeping Operations is working to implement the action plan for improving the safety of UN police, which resulted from the December 2017 report “Improving Security of UN Peacekeepers” produced by a team led by Lieutenant General (ret.) Carlos dos Santos Cruz of Brazil.

Following Lacroix’s briefing, the three police commissioners will present key aspects of the work of their police components when implementing Council mandates. Vuniwaqa is expected to discuss UNMISS’ efforts to protect civilians through gender-responsive policing. In this regard, the UNMISS mandate authorises the mission to use all necessary means to protect civilians, including by “deter[ring] and prevent[ing] sexual and gender-based violence within its capacity and areas of deployments” (S/RES/2406). Abounasir will brief on efforts by MONUSCO to prevent and address serious and organised crime. Therriault is expected to brief on MINUJUSTH’s efforts to strengthen the rule of law through police reform. MINUJUSTH’s mandate is to assist the government of Haiti in strengthening rule of law institutions, reinforcing national police capacities, and engaging in human rights monitoring, reporting and analysis.

The representative from the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime was added to the list of briefers at the request of Sweden. According to its website, the Global Initiative is a Geneva-based organisation established in 2013 that “comprises a network of nearly 300 independent global and regional experts working on human rights, democracy, governance, and development issues where organized crime has become increasingly pertinent.” Tomorrow’s briefing by Reitano may focus on how organised crime exacerbates conflict and how UN police components can be better equipped to address organised crime. In this regard, the organisation produced a report in September entitled “Organized crime and its role in contemporary conflict: An analysis of UN Security Council Resolutions”, which explores the references to organised crime in Security Council resolutions between 2000 and 2017, and calls for a global strategy to address organised crime. A discussion of the report could be an aspect of the briefing.

There is widespread support in the Council for UN policing in peace operations for such matters as protecting civilians, strengthening national policing capacities, and fighting organised crime. However, there are diverging views regarding the phases of the “peace continuum”—encompassing prevention, conflict resolution, peacekeeping, peacebuilding and long-term development—in which UN policing is relevant. Several members regard policing as necessary in all phases of this continuum, including by establishing rule of law institutions in post-conflict environments. However, Russia has advocated a more restrictive view that emphasises the contribution of UN policing in conflict situations rather than throughout the full “peace continuum”.

Some members are likely to stress the importance of enhancing women’s participation in UN policing, a point made both by briefers and several Council members in last year’s meeting. In his briefing last year, Lacroix observed that female officers “mentor and inspire future women police leaders, increase access to justice for women and children at risk and improve information gathering and analysis by reaching vulnerable groups.” He further lamented that few UN police leadership posts are held by women.

The Secretariat is producing a report on UN policing that is expected to be finalised by the end of 2018. The report was requested by resolution 2382, which was adopted at the 2017 meeting on this issue, and according to that resolution, is expected to focus on “strengthening United Nations Policing’s operational and policy coherence within the United Nations system”, among other topics.


* Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions Alexander Zouev briefed instead of Lacroix.

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