Setting the Stage

At times with rising and ever more complicated conflicts threatening global peace and security, we look for renewed commitment to United Nations peace operations, and we collectively search for new approaches. This series of articles will focus on United Nations policing within peace operations. It will take stock of long-term development, outline more recent achievements, and argue that a fresh look needs to be undertaken, allowing policing to punch it’s weight: UN policing plays an important role within the United Nation’s efforts preventing conflicts, engaging in conflicts, and the Organizations efforts to promote sustainable peace and security through peace building: To protect civilians and to assist in building domestic capacity in the field of security and the rule of law are two interrelated core functions of UN peace operations. Policing needs to be strengthened in both, and beyond, in conflict prevention and peace building.

June 16, 2015, a High-Level Independent Panel on United Nations Peace Operations, commissioned by the United Nations Secretary General, presented it’s findings⁠1. The report is now commonly referred to as the HIPPO-Report. About two weeks later, June 29, 2015, an Advisory Group of Experts presented their review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture: “The Challenge of Sustaining Peace⁠2”. This report has become known as the AGE-Report.

On 2nd of September, UN Secretary General (UNSG) Ban Ki-moon presented⁠3 the HIPPO-Report to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and the UN Security Council (UNSC). In Paragraph 2, Ban Ki-moon writes:

To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. The opening words of the Charter capture the purpose of the UN. Seventy years later, that objective has never appeared as urgent or as challenging. Since 2008 the number of major violent conflicts has almost tripled. Long-simmering disputes have escalated or relapsed into wars, while new conflicts have emerged in countries and regions once considered stable. Labels assigned to conflict – internal, inter-state, regional, ethnic or sectarian – have become increasingly irrelevant, as transnational forces of violent extremism and organized crime build on and abet local rivalries. Environmental degradation and resource deprivation are not contained by borders. Exclusion at home is driving tension abroad. People displaced by war approach 60 million and global humanitarian needs for 2015 are close to $20 billion.

Fifteen years earlier, a Panel on United Nations Peace Operations issued the “Brahimi-Report⁠4”. The HIPPO-Report can be seen as the first comprehensive follow-up. In it’s introductory parts, the HIPPO-Report notes that “United Nations peace operations are a unique instrument for advancing international peace and security.” Peacekeeping Operations have a history that began in 1948. Seventy years later, they have evolved in type and complexity. Peace operations include peacekeeping operations, special political missions, good offices, and mediation services. The HIPPO-Report notes the current deployment of more than 128,000 civilian and uniformed personnel in 39 missions across four continents. Looking back at the Brahimi-Report, the HIPPO-Report acknowledges the significant strengthening efforts and efforts to ensure that peace operations adapt to new roles.

As Ban Ki-moon notes, “violent crises are drawing unprecedented levels of international engagement”, leading to the engagement of the UN in peace operations, but also crisis management operations undertaken by the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU). Proliferation of conflict is outpacing our efforts, millions of people continue to live in fear and misery, and failure to prevent or halt war is dominating public consciousness. The UN Secretary General goes on to say: “Too often, however, efforts have been fragmented and unequal to the task. The limits of our engagement are reflected in UN peace operations, the most visible face of the Organization. Over six decades they have shown a remarkable capacity to adjust to evolving situations and new demands, guided by well-established principles. But missions are struggling to cope with the spread and intensity of conflicts today, and lack of unity among Member States over their scope and application is thwarting their adaptation. Within peace operations, shameful actions of some individuals are tarnishing efforts of tens of thousands.

Consequently, the UNSG calls on tackling these profound challenges. In doing so, he does not only assess the HIPPO-Report as being a solid foundation for this, but simultaneously points to the AGE-Report and more, including the Global Study on the implementation of Resolution 1325, which examines progress in placing women at the centre of the UN peace and security agenda⁠5, with a High-Level Review in October 2015.

On initiative of the President of the United States of America, a Peacekeeping Summit of World Leaders took place on occasion of the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly. In his speech⁠6 on September 28, 2015, Ban Ki-moon recalls that “the situations into which peacekeepers are deployed have never been more challenging, as tasks multiply and we face extremists, criminal groups and others who show no regard for international humanitarian or human rights law.” He recalls that more than 120 countries currently contribute over 125,000 troops, police and civilian personnel. Amongst five most pressing needs, the call for more qualified police personnel, including more female police officers, and Formed Police Units, as well as experts in the justice and corrections sectors, features prominently.

Likewise President Obama⁠7: “…today, I’m issuing new presidential guidance — the first in more than 20 years — to expand our support for U.N. peace operations.” He points to the need to reform and modernize peace operations, making them fit for purpose in contemporary complex environments, appreciating the commitment of more than 50 countries to do more, including contributing troops and police. The White House Memorandum on United States support for United Nations peace operations⁠8 itself is even more specific and detailed in the U.S. Administrations’ support for policing in UN peace operations, and it stands as an example for an increased commitment that was subsequently demonstrated in speeches by Heads of States, or their representatives, over more than four hours of pledging.

To date⁠9, PCC contribute 13.940 police officers to United Nations Police (UNPOL). Broadly speaking, 4.653 officers are deployed as Individual Police Officers, and 9.287 officers are deployed into Formed Police Units. Taking stock on the police side, the 2nd Peacekeeping Summit led to significant new pledges of UN Member States. Finally, all the above is accompanied by a wider and complex set of efforts of the United Nations to modernize peace operations.

Quo vadis, United Nations policing? The extrapolation of the future can never be attempted without a thorough look into the development itself, in this case the development of policing in UN peace operations. A look back will map the history, and will become more detailed for the past decade, or possibly fifteen years. Whilst the focus is on UN policing, within UN peace operations, the narrative for the beginning 21st century has, to some extent, to look at aspects of coherence and cooperation, within the larger UN system, and in relation to other international, regional, and bi- or multilateral actors. Without, the current challenges can hardly be understood.

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1 Uniting Our Strengths for Peace – Politics, Partnerships And People; Report of the High-Level Independent Panel on United Nations Peace Operations. http://www.un.org/sg/pdf/HIPPO_Report_1_June_2015.pdf

2 The Challenge of Sustaining Peace – Report of the Advisory Group of Experts For The 2015 Review of the United Nations Peacebuilding Architecture.

Click to access 300615_The-Challenge-of-Sustaining-Peace.pdf

3 The future of United Nations peace operations: implementation of the recommendations of the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations. Report of the Secretary-General to General Assembly and Security Council; Document A/70/357–S/2015/682. http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N15/270/74/PDF/N1527074.pdf?OpenElement

4 Report of the Secretary-General to General Assembly and Security Council; Document A/55/305–S/2000/809; http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/55/305

5 http://wps.unwomen.org/en/high-level-review

6 http://www.un.org/sg/statements/index.asp?nid=9048

7 https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/09/28/remarks-president-obama-un-peacekeeping-summit

8 http://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2015peaceoperations.pdf

9 Figures represent the deployment as of November 2015

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