On Defunding the Police – Proportionality

Legitimacy:

Whether measures taken are legal and have been proportional

Whether agreed procedures have been respected

Whether there is accountability of the service and its personnel for their actions

 

June 14, 2020, I am waking up to an updated report from CNN about protesters flooding the streets of Atlanta after Rayshard Brooks, an Afro-American U.S. citizen was being shot dead Friday, June 12, by a white American Police officer. A restaurant was set ablaze, a highway was blocked by protesters. Police deploying tear gas, violent altercations in the video footage.

Whilst it is way too early to judge established facts about the circumstances of the killing of Rayshard Brooks in detail, I note that the officer has been terminated, a second officer was placed on administrative duty, Atlanta’s police chief stepped down and Atlanta’s mayor called for the officer who shot Brooks to be fired.

This morning I also read about the continuation of protests against racism and police violence all over the world, and about the discussions within societies over here in Europe about it, including my country, Germany. We have serious discussions over here on changing our constitution, related to the term “race”.

And I read about the emergence of violent right-wing extremists in London, I see pictures with them attacking police officers, and the police attempting to prevent altercations between right-wing extremist protesters and protesters of the Black-Life-Matters-movement.

For good measure, a friend of mine sending me an outstanding article from the NYT on Police Reform.

That is how I woke up.

I feel tired, upset, most of all I feel deeply saddened for another person dying at the hands of police officers in what would appear to be a serious violation of any application of proportionality of the use of force. I join those who say “Enough is enough, when does this end?”. I am upset about those who maintain these are single isolated cases. I can hear those already who will point towards Rayshard Brooks’ fight against being arrested, who will hold his fleeing from the police against him. It looks like he discharged a taser, which he took away from one officer, whilst fleeing, and I can hear those who will say “See…”.

Let me summarize from what I know from preliminary looking at reported facts: Someone is falling asleep in a car. The car does not move, but it is in the way of other cars wanting to use a parking lot, they have to drive around the car. A police patrol controls the car, the person who slept in the car is subjected to a test whether he is intoxicated. He fails the test. Again, the car is not moving. An altercation between the person and police officers can be seen on video footage, the officers attempting to arrest the person, the person violently refusing. At some point in the struggle, the person takes control over a taser which is part of a police officers’ personal equipment, and manages to run away. Police officers pursue him. He appears to discharge the taser in direction of the pursuing officers. He runs away. He is getting shot and killed.

I had already begun writing on an article on proportionality which I had started with the following sentence, a few days earlier:

June 11, 2020, CNN reported about Tulsa police releasing video footage of an arrest of two black teenagers being handcuffed for – you hear right – jaywalking. Not bystander videos, footage from the body cams of the police officers engaging the teenagers.

And now another example, pointing into the same direction: Where is the proportionality of police action, and to which extent does the police themselves contribute to escalating an action which then is justified for the use of disproportionate force? And why is this, in its overwhelming majority, happening to non-white persons? 

It is mind-boggling. In all my experience, it is systemic. The biased selection of persons of color being the subject of police control, it is an extremely well documented pattern. We have a corresponding discussion here in Europe about the question whether the police is biased by preferential selection of members of specific groups when deciding to take action: Minorities, persons of color, persons of Muslim faith, migrants. 

We also need to look at how the police is conducting themselves after deciding to engage in a situation. We name it “discretion in deciding whether to act” and “discretion in choosing the means with which to act“: The former: Does the police apply the same criteria for deciding to take action on equal criteria, notwithstanding, for example, the color of the skin? The latter: Is it more likely that the police will use excessive and disproportionate force, depending on the color of the skin?

Notwithstanding racial bias, the American policing system is very different from the system which I belong to, in terms of inherent readiness to apply force in all kinds of policing situations. I would say that the American system is very different in relation to when, and how, to apply force, from any system in the European Union. From my viewpoint, the entire system is based on an understanding of coercion by force which is entirely disproportionate. This, more often than not insanely disproportionate application of force perhaps is the single most contributing factor to escalation of violence in interactions between the police and citizens, and communities. Taken together with that the overwhelming number of persons subjected to it are black citizens, is justifying to state that American policing contributes to systemic measures of control of Afro-American communities. That is racism.

American policing is based on a culture which prefers flashing signs from police patrol cars such as “Stop – It’s the Law”, allowing officers to just hide behind “the law” instead of explaining why they are interacting with a citizen. A culture of control through a “Law and Order” attitude leaves no space for communication.

Cops are no saints. No public servants are. Being put into a position of power, individuals tend to exercise that power, and more often than not their reflex is to say: “Because I can”. In my police system, decades ago, we undertook deep rooted reform efforts addressing it: Being in a position of power requires, in our understanding, a profound humility, and a desire to use these powers only as a last resort. The opposite to it is trigger-happy-policing. And we make sure management is being held accountable to hold police officers accountable. Which is very challenging: Line supervisers tend to fraternise. Police Unions do. In the U.S., they even carry that attitude in their names: Fraternal Order. Management and leadership tends to avoid discomfort by standing up against a culture of fraternisation. After all, supervisers are human beings who prefer to be liked by their subordinates. Unfortunately,  it does not always work that way.

Twenty years ago I was at the helm of an international police comprised of roughly 4.500 officers from 53 United Nations Member States. In Kosovo, setting up executive policing whilst building the foundations of a new Kosovo Police provided a field laboratory in which all different national policing models and attitudes struggled to find a common denominator. We “were the law”, but which law? We were the police, but which police? We learned everything from scratch. The United States deployed roughly 500 police officers into this UN police, with colleagues from many different nations patrolling the streets, upholding order, investigating crime, making arrests.

And every single arrest carried out by American police officers, notwithstanding the circumstances, whether a murder, or a traffic citation, led to handcuffing.

Even more: Every single action leading to temporary restriction of movement of an individual, like, for identification purposes, or further establishing facts at a police station, was called an arrest. Which led to handcuffing. In this, the American policing attitude stood out compared to practice of literally any other national police contingent in this police organisation which we formed from scratch, with no available blueprint. 

This is where my work on a common denominator on policing started. The way we did it was by beginning to talk about these differences. Talking leads to compromises on all sides. My colleagues and friends from U.S. police departments lowered their threshold of when to engage using force. My German colleagues accepted standards they were not used to in their home country. We all benefited. And we established the groundwork of  an understanding of community-oriented policing which transpired into the new Kosovo Police. In this transformation, my fellow American colleagues were instrumental.

I tend to write articles which are too long. Not this one. Or too academic, too complicated. Not this one.

Proportionality of action is, at the end of the day, depending on the values which underpin a system of policing. By all means, the discussion of how to reform policing in America must be based on American values. But I am not sure whether the excessive readiness of the use of force within the entire American system of policing can be used as a gold-standard. In my view, the opposite is true. It is not representing American values. Otherwise, there would not be so much opposition against it. 

This can get out of control if people taking to the streets are not being heard. Every defiant cop thinking this storm can be weathered is part of a very explosive mix. I congratulate the Atlanta Police Commissioner to taking immediate and decisive action, and then to resign, in order to support the case for police reform. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Defunding the Police – Policing as a Function

Policing refers to a function of governance responsible for the prevention, detection and investigation of crime; protection of persons and property; and the maintenance of public order and safety. Police and law enforcement officials have the obligation to respect and protect human rights, including the right to life, liberty and security of the person, as guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirmed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other relevant instruments.

 

Main argument

In this part I am presenting the argument that it is necessary to identify the core role of policing in a jurisdiction. Funding then needs to prioritize the effective and efficient implementation of that core role, and provide the means to ensure that policing is carried out within the framework of rules which reflect on the values that underpin that implementation of policing.

I also say that it is entirely common to look at which functions a police organization could carry out in addition to their core mandate. Of course, there is funding needed for this as well. However, responsible governance needs to make sure that additional tasks for a police department do not negatively affect the core mandate of that department. Responsible governance also has to question whether police is well-suited for additional tasks that may require specific, or different training. Police training is different from customs training, from military training, from training for correctional services, or from training for social services. Do not use a hammer for screws, or a screwdriver for nails. It destroys hammer, nail, screwdriver, and screws.

It is entirely legitimate to look at whether there would be better ways to implement the additional tasks given to a police organisation, by other means, such as strengthened social services. That, again, would require to re-allocate the necessary funding. Which is a form of defunding the police.

Thirdly, law enforcement needs to be equipped for carrying out its tasks. There is a direct line between the identification of “what” I want to do “how”, and what I decide to use as a technical means of assistance. If a police department decides to procure or to accept military style equipment for carrying out its tasks, that will change the attitude of officers in how they understand the task of policing. If that is leading to problems (which is evident in the United States), then reform efforts may lead to giving up purchase and use of military style equipment. Defunding the purchase of military equipment may allow both for funding core tasks of policing better (such as giving more resources to community-oriented policing), or free funds for support the work of other parts of government, such as social services.

Taken together, all three lines of what is named “defunding” are no reason to believe law enforcement and their staff would be “punished”. Instead, the reform leads to better policing, and more of it, and it leads to better other services of governance, such as social services.


Supporting arguments

It is all too easy to throw out the baby together with the used water in the bathtub if one doesn’t take the necessary time for a careful look.

The current debate about reforming policing has gone way beyond the borders of the United States of America, and it is happening on grounds of both long simmering discontent and because of current justified anger and immense outrage. Crimes such as the murder of George Floyd have triggered it, and the confrontational and at times horribly abusive handling of the protests by the system of governance is escalating it: It proves the case that something is flawed on a fundamental level. This in turn has led to so much growth of the protest movement in size that we may see, for the first time, a real chance for substantial change.

The sheer size of the demand to reform policing in its fundamental aspects is inevitably causing tension between those who advocate reform, and those who hold conservative views. That is good for a constructive democratic discourse.

Comparing how things are done elsewhere can help, as long as those who describe what they do elsewhere, and how they do it, don’t pretend that they have better ideas and solutions. We all cook with water, hypocrisy is poison to the debate.

I see, however, that there is an element in this discussion which goes beyond the constructive exchange of arguments in a reform discussion:

There are those who dig in. Reactionist forces attempt to quell the reform movement by a combination of (1) de-legitimizing reformers’ motivations; (2) de-legitimizing reformers as persons “per se” by demonizing them; and (3) pretending to associate with the cause, in order to take out the energy for change. The longer the successful application of this strategy, chances are that reform runs out of steam. And like events in 2016 allowed reactionists to boldly roll back honest and deep-looking reform efforts, the same threat is looming over 2020.

An example for de-legitimizing reformer’s motivations: Accuse them collectively and with no supporting evidence that they want to abolish the police entirely, or to de-construct the State.

An example for de-legitimizing reformers by demonizing them: Accuse them of anti-constitutional attitude, label them “radical left”, or even “domestic terrorists”, and freely make use of de-humanizing them, talking about “low-lifes”, “loosers”, or even worse.

An example for pretending to associate with the cause: Jump on the band-wagon of talking about how serious the problem is, express sympathies, be a bit emotional if you can, make sure to spread your hollow words of empathy and sympathy widely, say that you fully agree, throw in a “however”, and talk about anything but the core argument that leads to the reform necessity. Make no efforts to turn your pretended sympathies to the cause into any action.

So: What is the core argument?

The core is related to the question what the function of policing is about. No more, no less. A reform discourse needs to look at this one first.

Second comes the discussion about how (aka by which organizational means) the function of policing is implemented. Here, things become complicated, because the way how policing is being implemented is based on historical developments that are entirely localised. America’s culture is different from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Sweden, Tanzania, South-Sudan, Jordan, Egypt. Or any of the 193 countries forming the United Nations. All are different. Because of their history.

But does it mean we can only talk about one country’s policing approach, and does it mean there is no possibility to come to a common denominator which we all agree upon? Do we have to engage in a never ending “My toy is fancier than yours”-debate?

The answer is: It is very much possible to come to a unified minimum understanding, because we have done and achieved exactly that. I have witnessed that, by participating in it. It took us give or take ten years from voicing the dream, through finding support, learning how to do it, until we had written it down and agreed. The result includes what I quoted in my “Statement of Solidarity“.

And this result is not a collection of lofty sentences. As the United Nations, we needed to put a common understanding of what is policing and how it should be done front and center, for purpose of maximum transparency: This is what you get when we help you, this is what we need you to agree upon when we help you, because we have a few red lines which we all must not cross in this partnership. This is what any UN Police officer will understand as her or his function, notwithstanding from where that officer comes. This is how we expect police officers to be trained before they deploy into a United Nations Mission meant to assist in handling a conflict, or recovering from conflict.

If you look up the entire work which began with the document I quoted from, you see that we broke it down into a detailed understanding: We do have a common understanding about how to carry out community-oriented policing. We share detailed understanding about intelligence-led policing. We do know what a tactical group of the Police, such as a company sized “Formed Police Unit” should do when protecting peaceful demonstrations, and how to engage with those who disturb the peace, become violent, carry out crimes. We do know how police should establish functions that ensure accountability towards the law and towards citizens. We do know how police officers should use force as the last resort.

We have written that all down, and much more. And all along the way, the United States of America was part of a truly global support for further development of this framework, stressing the need that it has to be operationalized through training. Which is what we do, all over the world, and including heavy support by the United States of America. For which I am grateful beyond words.

Does, therefore, police have to look the same anywhere? No. But it does mean that one always should look at whether we have gotten the implementation of the core function of policing right. You can assign additional functions of any kind. The discourse about whether this makes sense, or not, usually carries many practical and political arguments with weight in the specific local context. But it should always prioritize the question whether the additional tasks impede core tasks, and whether police departments are suitable and capable to carry out that task. Like any other profession, training and organization of work in the police creates specific mindsets, highly capable of implementing policing. But it does not mean that this mindset, or training, is the right one for the additional tasks that are being expected to be handled.

The way to ensure this is called management. And any reform of something which has taken root is no less than an art.

Sometimes, less tasks for the police will create much more satisfaction with results.

On Defunding the Police – Entry Point

Not everything that can be faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed that is not faced.

JAMES BALDWIN

 

This will only be the first blog entry on this topic. I will go into the substance of how I look at this discussion in following articles. This one is intended to make clear how I look at the entire discussion, as a concerned individual and retired police officer, and a former United Nations Police Adviser. Thus, expect that my statements in subsequent articles will be as rational as I can be, and I reserve the emotional part motivating me for contributing to this discussion to this entry article. So, keep looking for follow-on to this writing, it will come soon. Expect the juice being inside a rational, but passionate debate contribution. I always try to stay away from partisan positions, except when it comes to underpinning values.

On values, I am very clearly partisan: I am United Nations hard-core, including all values on humanity represented by the UN, and developed within the UN-system. Which, by way of reminder, is the community of 193 Member States of the United Nations. We are the UN, as long as we contribute to the spirit of the UN, rather than disengaging from the UN. Like in the narrow context which will follow, engagement requires willingness to listen, rather than to yell. Any discussion which is lead in the spirit of finding consent requires to accept that it is legitimate for others to differ.

A friend of mine (who happens to be a journalist) suggested that I engage in the current discussion on policing and reforming the Police. He reminded me that, in 2014, I participated in a “Black Lives Matter” demonstration when I was living in New York (working as the UN Police Adviser). The picture is from December 13, 2014:

25B8A860-8474-470B-BE49-C1FE4896F235

August 9, 2014, Michael Brown had been shot dead by a Police officer, in Ferguson. Earlier, July 17, 2014, Eric Garner died after being put into a chokehold by a Police officer, in New York City. I am singling out two out of many events that led to renewed calls for reforming policing in the United States. Both in the U.S. and internationally, brutal instances of police abuse of power, including most serious crimes, sparked outrage leading to large and peaceful demonstrations. The “Black Lives Matter” movement stems from there. As a human being, and at that time being a temporary resident in the United States, I joined my fellow American friends in their peaceful call for addressing systemic racism reflected in the Criminal Justice system, and through abuse of power through individual police officers.

Already at that time the reform discussion on policing had much deeper roots, and there is a direct line connecting the history and those days of 2014 with what happens today, 2020. However, today the outrage is amplified, and there are signs that the calls for reforming policing, and the Police, are, finally being heard. Good.

Yes, peaceful demonstrations are proving that they are one of the most essential means and an inalienable right for citizens to participate in a democratic discourse about issues that matter.  And the subject matter of discussion is genuinely international: A friend of mine reported about participating in a demonstration in Berlin last weekend, with estimated 15.000 participants. It is one of many current events in Europe and elsewhere. Societies including my own German society have undertaken to conduct a self-critical discourse on the question as to which extent policing over here may also be unduly influenced by racial bias. Good.

Would all of that have happened without large-scale demonstrations? In my view, absolutely not. That is, by the way, why those who do resist these reforms, individually and institutionally, fear the demonstrations and thus attempt to label them with anything that would allow for discrediting intent of the demonstrations, manipulation of the course of the demonstrations and how they unfold, and the malicious labeling of individuals taking part in such demonstrations. These attempts are being conducted through manipulation, establishing and spreading unverified claims, false facts and lies, and using and spreading conspiracy-mongering strategies.

Most respected former U.S. public servants, including retired military officials are voicing their deepest concern about those who have adopted well-honed strategies practiced by systems and autocrats all over the World which have been criticised for exactly doing this by the very same United States of America. Good, because I hope the light can shine again, soon, and credible.

It looks like the peaceful demonstrations are here to stay. Good. Double down.

The range of topics in that discussion leading to these demonstrations is highly complex and beset with an enormous amount of emotions. It is about racial bias. It is about white supremacy. It is about countless cases of individual suffering and fear. It is about wrongful convictions, and a system of biased mass-incarceration, especially targeting communities of color. It is about the question how policing should be carried out, and how to hold police officers and other public officials accountable for their actions, including criminal actions. And much much more.

Within the current context of the United States, the contemporary development also can only be understood if put into the context of a society that is literally devouring itself, unraveled by a political partisan war ripping the fabric of consent into pieces about what is identifying and unifying all Americans, and what is so-called “un-American behavior”. It may well be that both sides blame the other for being un-American. The World is in disbelief. The ripples of instability stemming from this development have long arrived at the shores of Europe, Africa, Asia, and elsewhere. They bounce back from there, hitting the United States’s shores on the Atlantic and Pacific sides. Will that all calm down and settle into a new order, and will this be done with, or without violence?

Certainly, COVID-19 may have been a spark that set many things on fire. Fire? Not good in light of Global Warming. Oh yes, Global Warming is a fact. So, please, let us settle for consentual discussions allowing the young generations of this World to define our and their present, and their future.

These discussions need to be narrowed down. Topics have to be identified which can be taken forward, notwithstanding the complexity of the development as a whole. And in my view, it is extremely critical to take emotions out of these discussions, and to avoid antagonisation as much as possible. At the end of the day, a society needs to find an own consentual way forward in which positions converge into acceptable compromises. For, otherwise, there is no societal peace. And we do know that, without peace, there is no security. With no security, there is more heat. We can’t blame others for our own disengagement. But we always have the choice to engage. That’s why I am quoting James Baldwin.

This includes reforming policing, and the Police. After having settled on what policing is, the question how to implement it, follows second. Third then, one needs to consider how to fund what we want, and to re-allocate funding to where it is needed, and to stop funding of issues which run counter the implementation of what a society wants. So, in this third step, it is about de-funding, being part of a funding, and a reallocation-of-funding debate.

I should be clear: There is no way to establish a society with no self-policing of the rules that this society has given itself.

The violent death of George Floyd is a crime, one police officer is charged for second-degree murder and manslaughter. Three police officers are charged with aiding and abetting murder. George Floyd was subjected to police action after he was alleged to have used a counterfeit 20 USD bill for buying cigarettes. The police action ended in eight minutes and fourty-five seconds of suffering inflicted by some of the most cruel behavior I have seen in a while. And believe me, I have seen a lot.

It started with a counterfeit 20 USD bill. Why was Eric Garner being put into a chokehold, again? Proportionality of enforcement will be a point I will touch upon, later.

But I will say here that the reform discussion is triggered not by these few cases only, but because of the allegation that such behavior is systemic. That, also, makes it understandable why some try to argue that these actions are single cases. Which is not true. Truth matters, so look it up yourselves.

Another point in this first writing, attempting to look at the scope:

200415-michigan-protest-video-tease__415481.focal-760x428This picture was taken April 15, 2020, at Michigan Capitol

Of course I am respecting that the United States hang on to the Second Amendment. I have a personal opinion (horror and disbelief that people protest against the COVID-19 lockdown whilst carrying weapons of war), and I can also assure you that in Germany such an event would have led to as many SWAT-units as are available coming down on what would be considered a violation of strict weapons laws. But, of course, this is legal in America, thus the protest can be considered a peaceful protest.

The question I want to ask: Do you see one Afro-American person in that picture? Take a second and imagine all the individuals being black. And then, honestly, answer the question whether the indifferent action of the Police on occasion of that event would have been the same. Honestly, please!

Chances are the reaction would have been very different. That’s what I was saying in my post “Statement in Solidarity“: “Representative policing aims to ensure that the human rights of all people, without distinction of any kind such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, are protected, promoted and respected and that police personnel sufficiently reflect the community they serve.” At this moment, an overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens believes that this is not the case. Instead, we are facing a cultural form of racism, different in argument from previous forms of biological racism, but on grounds of the same attitude and thinking of white supremacy.

Statement in Solidarity

Floyd

With the “Report of the Secretary General on United Nations policing” to the United Nations Security Council as of 10 November 2016 (S2016/952), the United Nations adopted, for the first time ever, a common understanding of the function of policing, and how it must be carried out by police and law enforcement officials. This understanding can be found in https://police.un.org/en/policy-united-nations-police-peacekeeping-operations-and-special-political-missions-2014, Sections 14 to 19.

Policing refers to a function of governance responsible for the prevention, detection and investigation of crime; protection of persons and property; and the maintenance of public order and safety. Police and law enforcement officials have the obligation to respect and protect human rights, including the right to life, liberty and security of the person, as guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirmed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other relevant instruments.

Pursuant to the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, police and other law enforcement officials are required, at all times, to fulfil the duty imposed upon them by law, by serving the community and by protecting all persons against illegal acts consistent with the high degree of responsibility required by their profession.

For the United Nations, the function of domestic policing must be entrusted to civil servants who are members of police or other law enforcement agencies of a national, regional or local government, within a legal framework that is based on the rule of law.

In accordance with United Nations standards, every police or other law enforcement agency should be representative of and responsive and accountable to the community it serves.

Representative policing aims to ensure that the human rights of all people, without distinction of any kind such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, are protected, promoted and respected and that police personnel sufficiently reflect the community they serve. Fair and non-discriminatory recruitment and retention policies are expected to encourage, among other goals, an adequate participation of women and minority groups.

Responsive policing ensures that police respond to existing and emerging public needs and expectations, especially in preventing and detecting crime and maintaining public order and safety. Policing objectives are informed by the public safety concerns of the communities they serve and are attained lawfully, efficiently and effectively and in accordance with international norms and standards in crime prevention, criminal justice and human rights law.

Accountable policing means that police are accountable to the law, as are all individuals and institutions in States; that police are answerable to the public through the democratic and political institutions of the state, as well as through civilian democratic oversight bodies and mechanisms to improve community-police relations; that police are accountable for the way they use the resources allocated to them and that effective mechanisms are established for accountability over police conduct, including any allegations or established human rights violations committed by the police.

For the United Nations, the rule of law refers to a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards. It requires, as well, measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency.

 

As one of the chief architects of this United Nations policy, I stand in solidarity with the countless citizens, in the United States of America and all over the World, who exercise their right to demonstrate peacefully. I join them in expressing utter outrage in the face of widespread racism, white supremacy, and a systemic and horrifying abuse of power including most serious and heinous crimes by police officials against communities and individuals of color, and minorities.

I call on my fellow police colleagues to stand in humility and in support of the communities they serve, to walk with them, and to protect them. The streets belong to citizens peacefully exercising their rights and enjoying their freedom. They are neither a battle-ground to be dominated, nor a place for curfews preventing peaceful citizens to exercise their most basic human and citizen’s rights, including the freedom of opinion and speech. Curfews can only be possible under most serious and temporary circumstances.

No public official shall use his or her power for violently pushing peaceful citizens aside.

I call on my fellow police leaders to exercise a strict no-tolerance-policy towards acts of violence and the systemic disrespect of police officials towards the communities they are obliged to serve. No zero-tolerance-policy against violence and criminal conduct is legitimate in a democratic society if those who are mandated to serve and to protect peaceful citizens show no respect to the law, to the values underpinning the laws, and to fellow citizens, themselves.

I commend those police officers who apologize to victims of police violence and abuse of power, but I also say: You must work long and hard to earn back the respect of those citizens who have lost faith in you. You are meant to protect, rather than to be an instrument of “law & order”.

My heart goes with all victims of police abuse of power and horrible crimes including murder, conducted by individual police officers, supported by a cruel and self-serving, selfish and dividing attitude by those who believe they can exercise unrestrained power, rather than fulfilling an obligation to serve all citizens who have democratically elected them.

I am saddened, ashamed, and deeply sorry. I hope we can all breathe together.

 

Stefan Feller, Former United Nations Police Adviser and Director of the Police Division (2013 – 2017).

Berlin and Belgrade, June 06, 2020

Slaying the Hydra

This blog article for the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime is the more condensed and edited version of my previous article “Why global cooperation on peace and security is needed – An argument against divisiveness from the perspective of fighting organized crime.”

“UN Police – Slaying The Hydra, UN Police challenges to respond to organized crime” was published June 14, 2018 in the UN-TOC Watch section of the blog of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime:

International policing must gear up to tackle the challenge of organized crime as a major transnational threat to peace and stability, otherwise the many-headed beast will continue to thrive.

During my five years as the police adviser to the UN, the UN Police did a lot to raise awareness about the importance of fighting transnational organized crime within the broader context of peace and security, as evidenced by two groundbreaking resolutions in 2014 and 2017. The message is simple: for conflict prevention, and for peacebuilding efforts to be successful, the relevance of organized crime must be understood, its threats identified and vulnerabilities mitigated.

In contemporary conflict environments, actors who are not party to ceasefire processes or peace agreements may threaten such efforts towards stability. Many belong to a nexus that links transnational organized crime, violent extremism and international terrorism. Organized crime takes advantage of conflict and war to counter law-enforcement efforts, while extremism and international terrorism use organized crime as a business model. Thus, efforts aimed at re-establishing governance are attacked by criminals and violent extremists. This is a menace for countries shaken by conflict, as peace depends on legitimate governance in which all communities find their space.

The consequences of transnational organized crime – such as trafficking in human beings, forms of exploitation and slavery, and trafficking in weapons or narcotics – may also contribute to the current global rise of nationalism and populism. And, more recently, peace operations have become a target themselves.

Organized crime and violent extremism not only weaken existing governance, they also establish their own governance systems. Islamic State is a case in point, being an extremist ideology that has imposed an entire bureaucratic, public-services and tax system. The organization also uses criminal enterprise to generate revenue, much of it transnational. Hence it can be difficult to distinguish between individuals and networks representing ‘classical’ transnational organized crime and violent extremists who benefit from it.

Diplomatic and military efforts are limited or rendered toothless given the complex nature of the organized-crime threat. Individual states and the international community struggle against a faceless, multidimensional and highly secretive enemy. Unlike Islamic State, which exploits a sophisticated media machine, transnational organized crime has no public voice; instead, it thrives on deception, bringing to mind the many-headed Hydra of Greek mythology, which proved almost impossible to slay.

When faced with this sort of complex challenge, the authorities often resort to efforts of disruption. But every experienced law-enforcement officer knows that disruption can never be more than a temporary alternative to the real objective: permanently disbanding the network. Multinational organizations need long-term strategies – something that tends not to come naturally to political processes. And neither foreign ministries nor military forces have experts on transnational organized crime, crime prevention, community-oriented policing or intelligence collection within a civilian legal framework. Responding to organized crime in complex settings requires careful, thoughtful engagement, capable of sustaining a long-term effort. Policing expertise is essential. However, this sort of expertise has often played second fiddle to military responses, often with negative consequences.

Transnational organized crime is like a highly complex technological system that functions through an untold number of connections and nodes. Similarly, responding to it, much like operating a complicated piece of machinery, necessitates a detailed understanding of how the system works, otherwise there is a risk of further destabilization and thriving illicit activity.

 

Strengthening the peacekeeping/law enforcement response to organized crime

In June 2016, ministers of the interior, chiefs of police and other high-level officials from more than 100 member states gathered at the UN headquarters for the first-ever summit of UN police chiefs. Participants called for the need to tackle transnational organized crime and deploy more specialist expertise – based on specific capacity gaps within national institutions and priorities requested by host states. They encouraged stronger partnerships between the UN Police, the African Union, the European Union, INTERPOL, EUROPOL, the emerging AFRIPOL, AMERIPOL, ASEANAPOL, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and other partner organizations. In June 2018, the UN will host the second UN Chiefs of Police Summit, which will aim to take stock and move forward on organized crime.

Meanwhile, Secretary General António Guterres argues that the future of peacekeeping operations is linked to UN Police and that more investment in this area will be essential. The same sentiment can be found in the 2016 European Union Global Strategy. The EU is working on getting EUROPOL closer to crisis management missions of the EU abroad. The recognition that experts on transnational organized crime need to be provided to support actions within a foreign-policy context is slowly growing, although I don’t see this reflected in national police budgets.

Between 2014 and 2016, the UN also finalized the policy of the Strategic Guidance Framework (SGF). This long-standing, worldwide effort, supported by a global network of law-enforcement professionals, enhances the effectiveness of the UN Police in peace operations. Mapping out the interdependency of community-oriented policing and intelligence-led policing is but one of many examples of how the SGF tackles the challenges presented by transnational threats, including that of organized crime. The SGF has become an internationally acknowledged reference point for how to strengthen host states’ law-enforcement capacities and capabilities, giving international policing a first-ever framework. Meanwhile, the establishment of a Serious and Organized Crime Team in the UN Police Division, and the creation of an entire network of focal points on transnational organized crime are examples of efforts to translate the SGF framework into practice.

Such efforts are key to an effective global response to a global threat. But there is no space for complacency. We need to be seriously concerned. We are witnessing the erosion of a willingness to think globally in the face of global challenges and threats, in an environment where no local event can be separated from the global, and vice versa – often with unforeseen consequences. But populism thrives on the pretence that there are easy solutions to the world’s problems and that those who say otherwise are merchants of ‘fake news’. Nationalist sentiment rolls back global and regional achievements, and presents a threat to more integration. And, at the extreme end of the scale, a new wave of fascist movements are intent on destroying what has been achieved by liberal societies, including the rule of law. I know of no examples in contemporary history where such assaults on the rule of law and increasing patterns of authoritarianism have not led to greater levels of organized crime and corruption.

Impressive steps have been made in bringing about a truly global approach to international policing. But these achievements can easily be wiped out. New and resolute thinking is now needed to prevent organized crime from benefiting from the erosion of the rule of law. We have to better acknowledge the complex effects of transnational crime on conflict and war; we have to acknowledge that inadequate efforts to deal with conflict, or to help rebuild post-conflict settings, nurture transnational crime’s ability to thrive.

Ultimately, fighting crime is a civilian core function within society. As the Global Initiative advocates, networks can only be fought by networks – in this case, networks of law-enforcement and criminal-justice organizations. In states and regions already weakened by conflict and war, transnational crime thrives and domestic law-enforcement partner organizations struggle. Whether through outright assistance or temporary international involvement, we have to help our partners from the outset. It requires our active commitment not only with diplomats and soldiers, but also with police and justice expertise. And it requires doing things together, including with national and international law-enforcement agencies.

Why global cooperation on peace and security is needed – An argument against divisiveness from the perspective of fighting organized crime

Over the past five years United Nations Police significantly increased the awareness of the impact of serious and organized crime on conflict and war. In two groundbreaking resolutions on policing, (2185/2014 and 2382/2017) the UN Security Council recognized the relevance of efforts supporting the fight against transnational organized crime within the continuum of peace and security. For conflict prevention, peace operations and peacebuilding efforts to become successful, its relevance must be understood.

It’s as simple as that: First comes the threat identification, followed by the identification of vulnerabilities. Then there must be decisive mitigation.

In contemporary conflict environments, asymmetric threats originate from actors who are not party to ceasefire processes or peace agreements. Add interlocutors to the mix who are involved into peace processes and have second and third agendas. The former have no interest in supporting peace processes, the latter’s commitment is limited by the extent to which their own, often hidden, agendas can be implemented. The entire initial process might become unidentifiable, leaving us with the question “How did we end up here?”

All of these actors belong to a nexus tying transnational crime, violent extremism and international terrorism together. They thrive on and create corruption. Organized crime uses conflict and war to counter enforcement efforts, and extremism and international terrorism use organized crime as a business model.

This is a menace for host-countries affected by conflict or shaken by war, as peace requires security and depends on legitimate governance in which all communities find their space. Thus, the efforts of reestablishing governance are attacked by criminals and violent extremists. More recently, peace operations have become a target themselves. Whether peace operations make it or break it in assisting in mitigating this threat is something direly felt by neighbors, or even neighboring regions: The threat affects whole regions and has global implications.

More than that: Rampant consequences of transnational organized crime, such as trafficking in human beings and forms of exploitation and slavery, trafficking in weapons, or narcotics, all have an impact on the global rise of nationalism and populism.

Organized crime and violent extremism do not only weaken existing governance, they also establish their own governance: We know all too well that criminal networks regularly control societal aspects of the life of people. The Islamic State is an example for an ideology establishing the whole gamut of a bureaucracy, public services and taxes. Such extremism again uses crime for generating revenue, and most of it is transnational. When we draw network-relationship-diagrammes, it is sometimes difficult to separate persons and networks representing “classical’ transnational organized crime and those on the side of violent extremism. However, the immense role of transnational crime is undeniable.

Diplomatic and military efforts are limited or rendered even toothless because of the complex nature of the threat: Committed actors in host States and the International Community struggle with a faceless, multidimensional and highly secretive enemy. Unlike Islamic State using the entire media machine, transnational organized crime has no public voice, but is uses deception. Ancient Greek mythology comes to mind, every decapitation of one head of the Hydra causes its replacement with two new heads. When we are faced with this complexity, we often resort to efforts of disruption. Every experienced law enforcement officer knows that disruption can never be more than a temporary alternative to the real objective: Disbanding the network.

International, regional and foreign national actors in the same theater of operations are faced with an extremely high degree of complexity. Formulating a mandate for action by multinational organizations is challenged right from the beginning by the need for long-term strategies to be factored in from the outset. That doesn’t come natural for political processes. Secondly, the effective implementation of mandates by multiple actors depends both on coherent political backing and having the right means. They are usually provided by member States. But neither foreign ministries nor the military has experts on transnational organized crime, crime prevention, community-oriented policing, and intelligence collection within a civilian legal framework. This leads, thirdly, to that we all are willing to acknowledge complexity, but we do not always accept the consequence: a resulting need for a gentle, thoughtful engagement, with highly capable expertise from the beginning, sustainable in its ability to adapt within a long-term support effort. Traditionally, this sort of expertise often comes second when political decision-makers hear it. The military is heard first.

Imagine a board with many instruments and switches, and you have almost no knowledge of most connections under the hood. Transnational crime is part of an unknown number of such connections. Would you use a careful approach, attempting to understand better before operating the switches? Would you apply gentle changes that can be corrected, reverted, fine tuned as you go and understand better? Or would you use a wrench? Would you say “Yes, that’s a complicated thing, that’s for later and for others, I’m using the wrench anyway because I lack finer tools.” For the hammer, all things look like nails. The result of inadequate action on complexity is often the opposite of what was intended: Further destabilization and illicit control thrive.

In reality this means that (1) we have to do better to acknowledge the complex effects of transnational crime on conflict and war and (2) we have to acknowledge that inadequate handling from the beginning of any effort to prevent or handle conflict, or to help re-building post-conflict, nurtures transnational crime’s ability to thrive.

Ultimately, fighting crime is a civilian core function within a society. As transnational crime is a network of networks affecting many societies, networks can only be fought by networks. In this case, networks of law enforcement and criminal justice organizations. But within States and regions weakened by conflict and war, transnational crime thrives and domestic law enforcement partner organizations struggle and are suffocated. Whether through outright assistance or temporary international executive involvement, we have to help our partners from the outset on. Because our partners they are, they are peers in dire need, undermined by the enemy. It requires our active commitment not only with diplomats and soldiers, but with a wide range of police and justice expertise. And it requires doing things together, including national and international law enforcement agencies.

In June 2016, Ministers of the Interior, Chiefs of Police and high-level officials from more than 100 Member States gathered at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Organized by the Police Division of DPKO, this first ever summit of Police Chiefs under the United Nation’s umbrella (UN COPS) called, amongst other important issues, on tackling transnational organized crime, acknowledging the need to deploy more specialized expertise – based on specific capacity gaps of national institutions and priorities requested by host States. Participants encouraged fostering strengthened partnerships between the United Nations Police, the African Union, the European Union, INTERPOL, EUROPOL, the emerging AFRIPOL, AMERIPOL, ASEANAPOL, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and other partner organizations.

In June 2018, the United Nations will witness the second UN COPS, taking stock and moving forward, if possible. In the invitation, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres states that the future of peacekeeping operations is linked to UN Police and that more investment in this area will be essential. The UN maps the context: “Violent conflict and global challenges, including organized crime, violence and extremism conducive to terrorism, affect the safety, security and livelihoods of communities. These challenges undermine rule of law institutions, as well as the ability of police to prevent, detect and investigate crime, protect persons and property, and maintain public order.

This statement goes far beyond peacekeeping: It is a global challenge of great urgency. The same can be found in the 2016 European Union Global Strategy. The EU is working on getting EUROPOL closer to crisis management missions of the EU abroad. The recognition that experts on transnational organized crime need to be provided to actions within a foreign policy context is slowly growing, but I don’t see it reflected in national police budgets.

Between 2014 and 2016 the United Nations finalized the policy of the Strategic Guidance Framework SGF (https://police.un.org/en/sgf). This longstanding and worldwide effort, supported by a global network of law enforcement professionals, enhances the effectiveness of UN police in peace operations. It presents a consistent approach to how UN Police works, and especially the provision of support to host-State police services. Mapping out the interdependency of community-oriented policing and intelligence-led policing is but one of many examples for how the SGF tackles the challenges presented by transnational threats including organized crime. Handbooks are being produced and command training is being rolled out. The SGF has become an internationally acknowledged reference point for how to strengthen host State’s law enforcement capacities and capabilities, giving international policing a first-ever framework.

Such efforts are key for a global response to a global threat.

There is, however, no space for complacency. As a matter of fact, there is space for serious concern. We witness the erosion of a willingness to think globally in light of global challenges and global threats. Ours are times in which no local event can be separated from global, and no global event can be separated from local consequences. Because our world is complex, these consequences show up in often unforeseen ways. But populism pretends that there are easy solutions to the World’s problems and that those who say otherwise are “fake news”. Nationalism rolls back global and regional achievements and presents a threat to more integration. On the extreme end, a new fascism attacks achievements of liberal societies, including the rule of law.

How would the rule of the powerful instead of the rule of law not translate into more organized crime and corruption? I know of no example in contemporary history where it would have not. We have come an impressive part of the way, but it can easily be reverted during these times. New and resolute thinking is required to prevent organized crime from benefiting from the erosion of the rule of law.

Hoch geschätzt und dringend benötigt: Deutsche Polizeifähigkeiten

https://peacelab.blog/2018/04/hoch-geschaetzt-und-dringend-benoetigt-deutsche-polizeifaehigkeiten

Believe it or not, from time to time I do relapse into my native language, especially when it comes to rallying support for international issues within a German political environment. So, those fluent in German: Enjoy!

The article was published on the blog “PeaceLab”. It is run by the Global Public Policy Institute GPPI – http://www.gppi.net/home/ (Yes, largely in English language) – in support of the development of bottom-up discussions informing German foreign policy decisions. The blog is run in co-operation with the German Federal Government.

Please add the blog to your sources of information, it’s awesome, and it’s not fake news.

Hoch geschätzt und dringend benötigt: Deutsche Polizeifähigkeiten

Deutschland leistet kritische Beiträge zur Reform und Stärkung der Vereinten Nationen sowie zur Weiterentwicklung der Europäischen Union und zur Vertiefung der gemeinsamen europäischen Identität. Deutsche Institutionen der Inneren Sicherheit beteiligen sich seit vielen Jahren an globaler Konfliktprävention, Friedenssicherung und Friedensaufbau, einem Schwerpunktthema deutscher Außenpolitik. Die Leitlinien der Bundesregierung “Krisen verhindern, Konflikte bewältigen, Frieden fördern” vom 14. Juni 2017 bilden einen überzeugenden Rahmen für eine konzeptionelle Diskussion von ressortübergreifenden Aspekten der Sicherheitssektorreform und der öffentlichen Verwaltung (Governance), aber auch für einen von Prinzipien und Werten geleiteten Diskurs: Die Leitlinien beziehen sich auf den im deutschen Grundgesetz verankerten Willen, als gleichberechtigtes Glied in einem vereinten Europa dem Frieden der Welt zu dienen. Sie zitieren die Charta der Vereinten Nationen, die in ihrer Einleitung die Entschlossenheit der Weltgemeinschaft zum Ausdruck bringt, “künftige Geschlechter vor der Geißel des Krieges zu bewahren”.

Globalisierung, Grundwerte und Vereinte Nationen zunehmend in Frage gestellt

Die 2016 und Anfang 2017 entwickelten Leitlinien analysieren zu Beginn diese Welt, die “aus den Fugen geraten” zu sein scheint. Was ist seit dieser Zeit noch deutlicher geworden?

  • Eine Grundannahme der Leitlinien ist die andauernde Globalisierung. Diese Entwicklung wird zunehmend von nationalistischen Strömungen bekämpft. Der grassierende und teilweise vorsätzlich vorangetriebene Zerfall einer auf gemeinsamen Werten basierenden Diskussionskultur ist hier besonders besorgniserregend. Nicht selten ersetzen Zorn und blinde Emotion Vernunft und Respekt für Wahrheit und kollektive Werte.
  • Die Bedeutung der Vereinten Nationen als Plattform einer globalen Willensbildung zu Fragen von Frieden und Sicherheit wird zunehmend infrage gestellt: Wie zu Zeiten des Kalten Krieges sind gemeinsame Positionen im Sicherheitsrat schwieriger zu erreichen und von nationalstaatlichen Interessen überlagert. Dies erschwert politische und technische Maßnahmen zur Stützung von Konfliktprävention, Friedenssicherung und Friedensaufbau zunehmend: Mandate für VN oder andere Organisationen wie EU und AU können nicht formuliert werden oder sind unangemessen und schwach. Nicht selten nutzen Mitgliedsstaaten unterschiedliche Maßstäbe. Eine entschlossene Unterstützung für mit politischen Widerständen und Angriffen konfrontierten Friedensmissionen wird immer schwieriger.
  • Wertediskussionen werden zunehmend durch machtpolitisch dominierte nationalstaatliche Positionen infrage gestellt: Die derzeitige global sichtbare Tendenz, Menschenrechts- und humanitäre Fragen wieder nachrangig zu diskutieren, erlebt man derzeit sehr konkret im täglichen VN-Alltag. Derartige Signale werden von anderer interessierter Seite genutzt, um die Legitimität von Institutionen der internationalen Strafjustiz zunehmend infrage zu stellen. Gleichzeitig nehmen unverhohlene Angriffe auf Grundwerte eines entwickelten Demokratieverständnisses einschließlich des Grundrechts auf Presse- und Meinungsfreiheit global zu. Dies wird in Krisenländern zunehmend als Einladung verstanden, Schutz, Wohlergehen und Humanität der eigenen Bevölkerung oder von Minderheiten und verletzlichen Gruppen mit Füßen zu treten, ohne Sanktionen befürchten zu müssen.
  • Die Zukunft und die Rolle der Europäischen Union wird von innen und außen kritisch hinterfragt.

Deutsche Außenpolitik: Aufgeben ist keine Alternative

So findet sich deutsche Politik international im Mittelpunkt von Hoffnungen und Ängsten wieder: Die Hoffnung auf eine starke Rolle Deutschlands in Erhalt und Fortentwicklung der europäischen Idee und in Stützung der Gründungswerte der Vereinten Nationen ist in gleichgesinnten internationalen Kreisen größer als vielleicht im Inland vermutet. Im Umkehrschluss fragen sich viele Partner Deutschlands mit Sorge, ob die als standfest wertverbundene und multilateral empfundene starke deutsche Außenpolitik fortdauern wird.

Die Konsequenzen für Art und Umfang von Unterstützungsmaßnahmen zur Stärkung und Reform des Sicherheitssektors und der öffentlichen Verwaltung in Krisen- und Konfliktgebieten müssen im Rahmen der politischen Willensbildung der Bundesregierung sorgfältig betrachtet werden: Nie war es wichtiger als heute, um den richtigen Weg für Friedensprävention, Friedensunterstützung und Friedensaufbau zu ringen.

Nie war es wichtiger als heute, um den richtigen Weg für Friedensprävention, Friedensunterstützung und Friedensaufbau zu ringen.

Aufgeben ist keine Alternative. Kohärente und wirksame nationale Beiträge erfordern politischen Konsens auf internationaler Ebene. Am Ende gilt das Primat der Politik für jegliche technische Unterstützung der Stärkung und Reform von Institutionen im Bereich der Sicherheit und des Rechts.

Keine Sicherheit ohne Grundwerte

Die Interessenkollision zwischen politischem Pragmatismus und Grundwerten des Handelns war schon immer herausfordernd. Die Unterstützung von Krisen- und Konfliktstaaten beim Aufbau und der Reform des Sicherheitssektors und der öffentlichen Verwaltung muss ihre Grenzen dort finden, wo Grundwerte der internationalen Staatengemeinschaft in ihrem Wesensgehalt beeinträchtigt sind: Sicherheit ohne Freiheit darf es ebenso wenig geben wie Freiheit und Sicherheit ohne humane und soziale Werte. Partnerschaftliche Unterstützung im Rahmen von Konfliktprävention muss auf einem durch alle Partner von Beginn an akzeptierten Werteverständnis aufsetzen. Das Einhalten dieser Vereinbarungen muss Bedingung für die Fortsetzung von Unterstützung sein. Ebenso setzt Friedenssicherung voraus, dass hieran beteiligte uniformierte und zivile Kräfte die Werte der Entsendeorganisationen vorleben: Friedenssicherung ohne Wertorientierung und ohne entschlossenes Handeln gegen eigene Mitarbeiter, die Menschenrechte verletzen, de-legitimiert sich.

In der VN-Polizeiabteilung haben wir zu dieser Werteorientierung in den letzten Jahren konzeptionell wesentliche Beiträge geleistet: Die Vereinten Nationen definieren “Polizeiarbeit” als eine Funktion öffentlicher Verwaltung, die Aufgaben im Bereich der Prävention, Feststellung und Ermittlung von Straftaten wahrnimmt, Personen und Eigentum schützt und öffentliche Sicherheit und Ordnung aufrechterhält. Aufgaben im Bereich der Polizei sollten Hoheitsträger wahrnehmen, die der Polizei oder anderen Strafverfolgungs- und Sicherheitsbehörden auf nationaler, regionaler oder lokaler Ebene angehören. Diese Behörden agieren in einem auf Prinzipien der Rechtsstaatlichkeit aufbauenden gesetzlichen Rahmen. Hoheitsträger von Polizei und anderen Strafverfolgungs- und Sicherheitsbehörden sind zur Einhaltung und zum Schutz von Menschenrechten verpflichtet.

Die Agenda des VN-Generalsekretärs ist eine Chance für die deutsche SSR-Strategie

Durch die Entwicklung im Bereich der Friedensoperationen der VN in den letzten Jahren wird die Unterstützung des Wiederaufbaus und die Stärkung von Polizei und Rechtsstaatsinstitutionen nun stärker betont. Jüngste Beispiele sind der Wandel von MINUSTAH zu MINUJUSTH in Haiti und die andauernde Transformation von UNAMID in Darfur (Sudan). Gleichzeitig betont der VN-Generalsekretär die große Bedeutung von Konfliktprävention und nachhaltigem Friedensaufbau. Die Reformanstrengungen der VN verfolgen die Verwirklichung eines integrierten ganzheitlichen Ansatzes: Ressortschranken innerhalb der VN sollen abgebaut werden. Welch’ eine Chance für eine deutsche Diskussion über eine ressortübergreifende Strategie!

Polizeifunktionen sind Kernfunktionen in allen Gesellschaften  

Trotz enormer Fortschritte in den letzten Jahren haben weder die Gremien der VN noch die Mitgliedsstaaten die inhaltliche Diskussion zur Bedeutung von Polizei- und Justizfragen sowie zur Reform des Sicherheitssektors entschlossen genug geführt. In meiner Arbeit habe ich die folgenden Punkte noch im letzten Jahr aus Anlass meiner Amtsübergabe formuliert:

Polizeifunktionen sind Kernfunktionen in allen Gesellschaften. Richtig verstanden und ausgeführt tragen sie zu Frieden, Sicherheit und Stabilität der Gesellschaft und der sie konstituierenden Gruppen bei. Auf dem Pfad von Friedenszerfall zu gewaltsamem Konflikt sind Institutionen der Sicherheit und des Rechts oft unter den ersten Tätern oder Opfern. Je widerstandsfähiger sie gegen politische Vereinnahmung sind, je standfester sie dem Schutz und der Sicherheit der Bevölkerung verpflichtet bleiben, umso größer ist die Chance, dass ein aufkommender Konflikt durch Dialog und Mediation bewältigt werden kann.

Dort, wo Prävention versagt hat, gehört bürgerorientierte und wehrhafte Polizeiarbeit zu den ersten Opfern. Daher ist es eine kritische Voraussetzung für jeden Friedensprozess, den Wiederaufbau einer gut funktionierenden Polizei zu unterstützen. Polizeiarbeit muss sich durch nationale und örtliche Akzeptanz und Beteiligung aller relevanten Gesellschaftsgruppen legitimieren. Wehrhaftigkeit gegen Diskriminierung, Rechtsstaatlichkeit allen Handelns, Gleichberechtigung aller Geschlechter und Repräsentation der örtlichen Gemeinschaften müssen von der ersten Stunde der Unterstützung im Vordergrund stehen.

Bereits Konfliktprävention muss Polizei stärken

Polizeifunktionen sind wesentlicher Teil des Immunsystems von Gesellschaften. Daher muss Konfliktprävention bereits konzeptionelle Beiträge zur Stärkung des Immunsystems beinhalten. Falls Friedenssicherung notwendig wird, muss die internationale Unterstützung zum Wiederaufbau von Polizei als Teil eines Rettungseinsatzes verstanden werden, der “die Blutung des schwerverletzten Patienten stoppt”. Um im Bild zu bleiben, schützt diese Ersthilfe die bedrohten und verletzten Gruppierungen verwundeter Gesellschaften und beugt Infektionen durch transnationale Bedrohungen wie schwere und organisierte Kriminalität, gewaltbereiter Extremismus und internationaler Terrorismus vor. Hilfe im Wiederaufbau muss dies bereits in der ersten Stunde berücksichtigen und auch den Boden für die folgenden Bemühungen zur Sicherheitssektorreform bereiten. Wie in den Leitlinien der Bundesregierung betont, ist der Weg von Konflikt zu nachhaltigem Frieden ein langwieriges Unterfangen. Daher muss der Stabilisierung nach Konfliktende ein nachhaltiger und lang andauernder Beitrag zur Restauration des “Immunsystems” folgen: Friedensförderung muss Unterstützung für die Reintegration von Sicherheitsorganen in regionale und internationale Sicherheitsmechanismen beinhalten.

Die Strategie der Bundesregierung muss VN-Polizei stärken

Eine ressortübergreifende Strategie der Bundesregierung muss die Rolle und Fähigkeiten der VN-Polizei in Konfliktprävention, Friedenssicherung und nachhaltiger Friedensförderung stärken: Obwohl Prävention das edelste aller Ziele ist, diktiert die Realität zunehmender Konflikte die entschiedene Stärkung fähiger Polizeikräfte der VN, um die Zivilbevölkerung zu schützen und den Wiederaufbau lokaler Institutionen der Sicherheit und des Rechts zu unterstützen. Wo frühzeitige und entschlossene Integration spezialisierter Polizeiexpertise versagt, ist der Friedensprozess selbst in Gefahr: Heutige Friedensmissionen sehen sich asymmetrischen Bedrohungen durch nichtstaatliche Akteure ausgesetzt, die weder Bestandteil von Friedensprozessen sind, noch ein Interesse an erfolgreicher Friedensarbeit haben oder Friedensabkommen respektieren. Organisierte Kriminalität nutzt Konflikt und Krieg; Extremismus und internationaler Terrorismus nutzen organisierte Kriminalität als Mittel zur Finanzierung und Kontrolle.

Spezialisierte deutsche Polizeiexpertise wird dringend benötigt

Internationale Polizeiarbeit unter dem Dach der VN, der EU oder der Afrikanischen Union trägt zur Friedensbildung bei und ist daher eine praktische Form der Konfliktprophylaxe und der Rückfallvermeidung. Wer die Herstellung akzeptabler Bedingungen für Sicherheit und Rechtsstaatlichkeit unterstützen möchte, hat keine Alternative: Die Leitlinien der Bundesregierung verdeutlichen die globalen Entwicklungen, die zu Flucht und Migration führen und von denen Extremismus, Gewalt und Kriminalität profitieren. Das Argument, dass Polizeiressourcen für den Einsatz “zu Hause” geplant und finanziert sind, und dass daher jeder Beitrag zu internationalen Friedensbemühungen der VN und auswärtigem Handeln der EU Ausnahme sein muss, geht fehl.

Spezialisierte deutsche Polizeiexpertise ist sowohl für VN-Polizei (von Prävention bis zum Friedensaufbau) als auch für SSR eine dringend benötigte Ressource.

Eine ressortübergreifende Strategie muss die systematische Stärkung spezialisierter Polizeifähigkeiten beinhalten. Deutschland genießt hier einen hervorragenden Ruf und deutsche Bemühungen, die Stärkung polizeilicher Fähigkeiten und Maßnahmen zur Reform des Sicherheitssektors miteinander zu integrieren, werden ausdrücklich wahrgenommen. SSR profitiert von breiter Akzeptanz erfolgreicher VN-Polizei-Unterstützung in Bevölkerung und Regierung. Spezialisierte deutsche Polizeiexpertise ist sowohl für VN-Polizei (von Prävention bis zum Friedensaufbau) als auch für SSR eine dringend benötigte Ressource.

Policing – Done Right

“When there is so much to be known, when there are so many fields of knowledge in which the same words are used with different meanings, when everyone knows a little about a great many things, it becomes increasingly difficult for anyone to know whether he knows what he is talking about or not. And in such circumstances, when we do not know, or when we do not know enough, we tend always to substitute emotions for thoughts.”

T.S. Eliot, “The Perfect Critic”; 1920, in: Jacobs, Alan. How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds (p. 22). The Crown Publishing Group; 2017.

The United Nations defines “policing” as a function of governance responsible for the prevention, detection and investigation of crime; the protection of persons and property; and the maintenance of public order and safety. Policing must be entrusted to civil servants who are members of police or other law enforcement agencies of national, regional or local governments, within a legal framework that is based on the rule of law. Police and law enforcement officials have the obligation to respect and protect human rights.

(1) Policing is a core function of communities and societies. Done right, it crucially contributes to peace and security for citizens. On the slippery slope from peace to conflict security institutions always show early signs of entanglement, in varying combinations becoming part of the emerging conflict, or a deliberate target. Security institutions that are resilient to undue political control and that understand their function as a commitment to citizens, actively contribute to conflict prevention and allow conflict resolution based on dialogue and mediation. Where prevention and resolution fail within an intra-state conflict, policing will be damaged. A restored policing function post-conflict is essential for sustainable peace and security. It must be based on consensual domestic ownership, gender and community representation, and prioritized early on after a conflict ends:

(2) Policing is part of a society’s immune system. Conflict prevention must include efforts strengthening the immune system of a society. Where conflict prevention fails, assistance to restoration of policing is the paramedic approach needed to stop the patient from bleeding, and to prevent wounded communities and societies from becoming infected by transnational threats, including serious and organized crime, violent extremism, and international terrorism. Where assistance to protection of civilians, and to capacity building of their immune system fails, affected societies and States struggle. More often than not they may end up riddled with endemic corruption, crime, and continued conflict. Threats for international peace and security thrive on this weakness. Finally, after post-conflict stabilization peace building must include efforts to sustain the restoration of a society’s immune system including through it’s integration into regional and international security mechanisms.

(3) Consequently, strengthening the role of UN policing in conflict prevention and in sustainable peace building on one hand and a more decisive and capable assistance of UN policing to the restoration of post-conflict domestic policing as a core function of modern peace operations on the other hand must be a priority. Where early and decisive efforts of today’s peace operations restoring domestic policing are not mandated or sufficiently resourced and politically prioritized, the peace process itself is at risk: In contemporary conflict environments asymmetric actors evolve who are not party to peace agreements, and who have neither interest in complying with peace processes nor respect for international actors supporting peace. They include transnational crime, violent extremism and international terrorism. These actors increasingly target the UN itself. Military responses alone fail against these, whilst policing provides no solitary answer against violent extremism and terrorism at the early stages of conflict intervention either: Robust peace operations require sufficiently resourced police and military capacities, able to act together. At the same time, any international activity that does not successfully assist in restoring domestic security capacity has no exit strategy, leading to getting stuck, or being defeated, on tactical, operational, strategic, and policy levels.

(4) Successful peace building prevents relapse and is practical conflict prevention. There is no alternative to helping struggling societies in creating conditions for safety, security, and justice. Taken together with other global developments the alternatives simply are displacement and migration as means to flee from insecurity and inhumane oppression. Extremism, violence, and crime, feed on this. United Nations Member States must fully embrace the appreciation that UN international policing needs decisive strengthening as part of a much broader strategy aiming to achieve Sustainable Development Goal SDG 16. The argument that policing resources are to be used in own domestic contexts is leaving a vast security dimension devoid that military means can not address, nor substitute.

(5) In 2015, the report of the High Level Independent on Peace Operations (HIPPO) confirmed UN Police as a critical component for peace operations. September 2015, UN Secretary General (UNSG) Ban Ki-moon presented the HIPPO-Report to the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council, introducing it, inter alia, with the statement that “…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.

(6) As borders do not work against crime and terror, neither physically, and even more so not in cyber-space, policing in United Nations’ work on peace and security must become an accepted part of an ever more strengthened international dimension of policing, and it must meet the challenges presented by the global effects of the Internet: There is no local development without global effect any longer, and vice versa.

On Aspects of Security, Crime, and Crime Control

Dear reader, I am deeply sorry: I took all the juicy case studies out! So this is the condense, admittedly very intense version of reading, without the narrative of why we find ourselves in situations like these. My professional line of work is political, and I will not mix this part with what I can say, in my personal capacity, in public, and what I can say simply because we All say this. The interrelationship is obvious, and the message needs to get out: There is no alternative to assisting in overcoming conflicts that are so different from what we have seen before. Neither there is an alternative to containing such conflicts, nor to assistance building the capacity in these States.

Just this afternoon, I was asked to brief a group of national politicians visiting the UN. Not only that all were surprised about what we do, I had to find answer to the question: “Why are we doing all this?”

My answer is the same like the United Nations military Force Commander of our Mission MINUSCA in Mali used, when he was asked “Why?’, in a BBC video. His reply at the end of this video, which by the way depicts many UNPOL officers: “Because no one else does it“.

 

So, again, here you go:

In every society, two major forces drive the construction of mechanisms that realize the provision of security, maintenance of order, and adjudication of justice: Consent and imposition. All systems establish variations of this, except on some occasions their two most extreme forms: Pure anarchy and pure dictatorship. Democratic systems strive for maximum consent. Member States of the UN establish variations which the UN must accept, within fundamental boundaries of least common denominators, passionately working on achieving more common ground.

The results in all chosen variations, the rich diversity that one can see within all Member States of the UN, includes the notion of the specific values and the cultural context underpinning the fabric of chosen forms of governance: How a specific system of providing security and justice is set up depends on the history, including that of values, in a society.

From a UN policing perspective, this understanding is critically important for providing security, and addressing the nexus between crime and crime control: Except for cases of internationally defined crime, like for example, crime against humanity, or genocide, common definitions vary in every local context. The legal definition of human action which is commonly considered constituting an act of less grievous crime will, at best, be similar. Likewise, and perhaps more importantly, the understanding of how a given society wants to deal with providing security for its citizens and with crime control varies. The definition of a crime fitting into the category of, say, sexual exploitation and abuse, differs as much from one local context to another as the way how to prevent, to investigate, to prosecute, how to punish, and how to deal with perpetrators and victims during that process, and in the aftermath.

Thus, for capacity building it is critical to find a common denominator, a consensus for all, on the side of those who rebuild, and the side of those who assist. Driven by the fundamental values underpinning the UN, UNPOL strives for the maximum, rather than the least common denominator. This holds true for the substance of assistance, but also for the methodology of how to assist: In absence of any common denominator, there otherwise is a less homogenous (at best) group of different experts with a national background, applying some “coherence” borne from pragmatism and realpolitik in any given situation. The frequent rotation of international personnel adds. These last two dry sentences carry the weight of experiences of countless situations in every single peace operation of all international organizations, describing the limitations of such well-meant and best intended, but limited approaches.

Rarely, a change in the national composition of peacekeepers assisting in capacity building will leave longer term concepts of implementation unaffected. Alternatives, such as specialized teams made from coherent professional background, perhaps even from neighboring security and justice systems, may alleviate this problem, but still a joint conceptual understanding is necessary for any organization composed of staff from the many different Member States of the UN. Sustainability of impact depends on coherence, vision, strategy, and partnership. This is why the development of the United Nations Police Strategic Guidance Framework SGF sits at the core of all long-term work of the Police Division.

Contemporary challenges as described in this chapter make it even more challenging to act without a joint conceptual framework, if one looks at the duration of assistance needed, of which PKO and SPM are only a part, and the complexity of interwoven factors. More recent history provides a few examples for a coherent national and complex, long lasting assistance scheme. One example for such cases is the German reunification after 1989, leading to intense and very costly partnerships between German States from the former “West Germany”, and their new partners from the East, integrating themselves with assistance into the reunited Germany as of today.  Some States have taken responsibility for assistance in their geographic region, as for example Australia does admirably in the case of Timor Leste, and other neighbors. The UN system does not work like that, it requires a broader participation, and it should, at least as a whole, represent the contribution of efforts of the entire constituency.

It also has been shown in earlier chapters to which extent policing in PKO and SPM co-exists with policing capacity and expertise provided by AU and EU, or bilaterally. But even where the UN system builds on regional contributions, the challenge of harmonization, coherence of policy and ability to contribute through trained expertise is extremely demanding. And lastly, the UN system of peace operations can not solely implement mandates by taking recourse to national support efforts, including those of willing neighbors, for many reasons. These efforts can be very useful and important, but will always need to be a part. The whole, therefore, requires a common denominator.

The common denominator for UN policing begins with an understanding of what policing and the rule of law are about, in our work, and as a prerogative for any assistance to domestic capacity building. On its uppermost level it is described within the policy document “United Nations Police in Peacekeeping Operations and Special Political Missions⁠1“, our entry point into the Strategic Guidance Framework:

(1) “For the United Nations, the rule of law refers to a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards. It requires, as well, measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency⁠2.

(2)Policing refers to a function of governance responsible for the prevention, detection and investigation of crime; protection of persons and property; and the maintenance of public order and safety. Police and law enforcement officials have the obligation to respect and protect human rights, including the right to life, liberty and security of the person, as guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirmed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other relevant instruments. Pursuant to the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, police and other law enforcement officials are required, at all times, to fullfil the duty imposed upon them by law, by serving the community and by protecting all persons against illegal acts, consistent with the high degree of responsibility required by their profession.⁠3

This is why the strategic focus of the SGF has always been finding a way how to harmonize the assistance, using the rich experience of the many different cultures of policing, but striving for separating this from the less guided and less homogenous use of diversity of expertise stemming from local contexts within the countries UNPOL officers come from: Like a Police Director in a host country that witnessed almost seventeen years of police capacity building assistance, sitting at the helm of the local version of an FBI, once said to a new incoming Chief Adviser: “You are the umpteenth new Chief Adviser to me. Which new wisdom do you bring to my office?” This sentence both reflects the critical importance of finding the right duration of assistance, but equally important the harmonization needs, and preventing these harmonization needs from reaching levels of detail which should be entirely left to local emanation of concepts.

But what if the prerogative for assistance to capacity building is not there? What if the reality on the ground, for a variety of reasons, inhibits efforts to build capacity, whilst the very threats for peace and security, against which this domestic capacity is so direly needed, is on the rise? What if, therefore, peacekeeping finds itself in a protracted period of having to contain a situation, including the protection of civilians, whilst actors who threaten the very peace process are including non-identifiable parties to the conflict?

Contemporary United Nations multidimensional mandates often include, amongst other tasks of peacekeeping operations, the tasks of protecting civilians, and capacity building. From a security perspective the military and police components of these PKO contribute to containing a given situation of conflict, or stemming from conflict. They apply deterrence, and to some extent coercion in an effort to give a political process space, towards peace and security. The momentous task lies with that these missions need to move a political process, utilizing the impact and momentum generated by such containment. This requires to support domestic capacity building, and begins already with the interrelationship with domestic actors on the protection of civilians. It can be a complex “jumpstart” process, from disorder into a structured “pathfinding”, leading to appropriate solutions supporting the begin of regular capacity building⁠4.

A comprehensive case study identifies several different challenges for UNPOL:

(1) In a group of UN peace operations, the path into gaining results from capacity building for the peace process is not opened yet, stuck, or seriously impeded in its conceptualization and operationalization, due to a variety of reasons;

(2) In some of the above situations these deficiencies are conducive to a (re)surge of violent extremism and terror stemming from regional and global connections, producing regional and global consequences;

(3) More recently, crime plays an increasing role, in collaboration with violent extremism, and terror;

(4) UNPOL is challenged beyond a more classical understanding of it’s role in protecting civilians, and capacity building, as a consequence of the impact of crime to the instability and threat to the host State, mission mandate, and mission personnel.

When describing these challenges, the successful cases tend to disappear towards the back row. However, the successful cases of Bosnia&Herzegovina, Kosovo, Timor Leste, Sierra Leone, they exist. Haiti, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, they are situations aspiring to be added to the group of successful country situations.

Yet, these contemporary cases stand out: Crime has become a pressing component of threats against peace and security, and peace operations. At the same time the path into capacity building is severely hampered by this very crime, violent extremism, and terror. The scenario resembles the scenario of asymmetric war fighting: Neither are conventional military responses developed for symmetric wars capable means for asymmetric military situations, nor is a political effort of promoting peace, including through assistance to capacity building, effective if it can not address the asymmetric attacks which come from the nexus of crime, violent extremism, and terror. PKO and SPM alike in these situations operate under the same challenges as were confronting the International Community in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Prognosis

(a) From emerging experience with these cases, and monitoring the development in Africa and the Middle East, there is indication that such cases constitute a trend. Country situations in which UNPOL in PKO and SPM are deployed have a regional context with neighbors which face similar trajectories. The relevant crime dimension never acts local, but at least regional, and often in a global context, as the dimensions of violent extremism and terror do, too.

(b) In relation to PKO and SPM, criminals and an increasingly large group of extremists promoting violence and terror are not recognized parties to the conflict, or are excluded from being part of the peace process because of their terrorist affiliation, or are hiding in plain sight, being part of peace mediation efforts, but having second agendas motivated by crime, and corruption. Efforts of capacity building get prolonged, if started at all, and the encompassing deterioration of the security and overall situation weakens the credibility of peace operations. Direct and increasingly often lethal attacks against peacekeepers thus, in this anticipation, may become the worrying norm. Crime in the form of Serious and Organized Crime SOC has begun to play a new role in contributing to drivers of conflict, threatening peace processes. Our work on establishing conducive environments for building peace and security is affected by the nexus between crime, violent extremism, and terror,⁠7 all benefitting from what we understand as endemic corruption.

Nation States are the constituting elements of contemporary international order. This system calls for restoration of (legitimate) State authority in a case of post-conflict engagement by peace operations. In an era of globalization, these elements of consent and control, however, are fundamentally challenged by non State actors who act regional, and global, including through using means of the borderless Internet. The notion of a “global village” is wrong. It’s more looking like a global paradigm change, with all the chaotic phases that come with these.

In an earlier article⁠8 I wrote: “In most UN peace operations, we see security and justice institutions incapacitated by conflict. Establishing sustainable governance in communities, nations and states is a core element in the process of achieving peace and security.

While the mandate implementation plan of a peace operation is adapted to both its local and regional context, every conflict into which we deploy is also tied to a global context. The global drivers of conflict are thus interconnected with each and every peace operation. Awareness of these undercurrents, including for example the collaboration of transnational organized crime with extremists and terrorists, is critical in preparing modern peace operations to effectively discharge their mandate and help put fragile countries emerging from conflict on the road towards sustainable peace and security.

What needs to be added is the impact of global, instantaneous Internet-based communication. The awareness of the impact of social networks in contemporary spreading of violent extremism, for example, only gradually emerges.

Against such a prognosis, there is however no known alternative to capacity building within the context of restoring order, security, and a rule of law. Without assistance, countries emerging from conflict, or struggling with regional dimensions of global conflict, are left to their own devices. Such a worst case scenario does not lead to only local conflict dimensions, but has profound global consequences that affect the entire community of States, through crime, and migration of millions of the Worlds’ poorest and least fortunate, victims of unimaginable violence. The impact of this on societies receiving this traumatized and disillusioned scarred constituency has just begun. Receiving States appear to be on the defense. Migrating victims may carry hope of survival, but not the memory of a State caring about their even most basic rights and needs. The breeding battle of xenophobia reverberates between violent fundamentalists and terror on one side and voices on the side of States affected by the export of crime and terror on the other side. It leads to a chicken-and-egg situation, and only to entrenchment.

To affected communities in conflict-torn States, crime offers alternative livelihood for the disillusioned and tormented. Violent extremism, on the other hand, pays off for subordination by offering social services that States threatened by it did not render, and now can not render. Prevention, deterrence, and perspectives for livelihood fail.

____________________

1 United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Department of Field Support; Ref. 2014.01; 01 February 2014; http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/sites/police/documents/Policy.pdf

2 Ibid; Footnote 6, pg. 5, referencing the Report of the Secretary-General on the Rule of Law and Transitional Justice in Conflict and Post-Conflict Societies (S/2004/616)

3 Ibid; Para. 14

4 One very demanding example was UNMIK: Since 1999, UNMIK in Kosovo was given extensive executive powers. UNPOL on UNMIK’s side worked in close collaboration with military NATO units of KFOR, in protecting civilians, and substituting for the absence of legitimate authority, on all levels. UNMIK was the executive police in Kosovo, whilst establishing the domestic Kosovo police was its main long term objective. But since the entire system of criminal justice and detention had broken down, UNMIK had to chart a new path, from the absence of justice towards a system ensuring transitional and regular justice. All chapters of how to do this were written without blueprint. They include the prevention of most serious crime at a time when no viable judicial mechanism was in place. However, UNMIK had legal power to create law, including criminal and criminal procedural law, which set this mission apart from any recent development. It included an entire internationally staffed UNMIK Department of Justice and likewise a Department of Corrections, and allowed a path towards the establishment of a rule of law system that was incrementally capable to correspond to the actions undertaken by UNPOL, and later on the Kosovo police.

5 Very good reading: Rebellion and fragmentation in northern Mali; CRU Report March 2015; Clingendael Institute; Netherlands

http://www.clingendael.nl/pub/2015/the_roots_of_malis_conflict/2_rebellion_and_fragmentation_in_northern_mali/

6 Ibid,

7 See, for example, as mentioned in the chapter on SPM: Report of the SG on overall policy matters pertaining to special political missions: http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/N1341359.pdf

Last access January 18, 2016

Also see UNSCR 2185: 26. Encourages information sharing, where relevant and appropriate, between Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations including its Police Division, the Department of Political Affairs, the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force and the United Nations Development Program, within existing mandates and resources, when considering means to address, in a comprehensive and integrated manner, transnational organized crime, terrorism and violent extremism which can be conducive to terrorism;

8 Stefan Feller; UN Police, International Crime and Terrorism; Huffington Post 2015; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stefan-feller/un-police-international-c_b_6670430.html

Special Political Missions and the Inclusion of International Policing

This is dry reading, just saying upfront. It’s important, though, for those who want to understand the big picture a bit better, getting an overview. Sorry, I took out all fancy things, as they are internal and I would need to get authorization for putting it here. Not that I would not get it. But it’s for a later stage. These are simply all facts that everybody can look up. I just compiled it, using my own words. If you managed to stay tuned reading on peacekeeping and peacebuilding, and conflict prevention, you will be rewarded with something putting it together with less dry words, soon. It’s like when I read one of my beloved books about quantum physics: The theoretical explanation sucks (my brain works differently, which is a nice excuse for that I was mostly like Calvin&Hobbes) but sometimes I need to hang in there… 

Here you go.

General aspects of conflict and mandates for SPM

Right at it’s beginning, the HIPPO report maps the continuum of UN peace operations as of today: It ranges from peacekeeping operations to special political missions, good offices, and mediation initiatives. The report identifies four essential shifts, one of which being that the full spectrum of peace operations must be used more flexibly to respond to changing needs on the ground⁠1.

In order to understand the interrelationship between peacekeeping operations PKO and special political missions SPM, a look into the normative framework of both is necessary. The Capstone Doctrine⁠2 aims to define the nature, scope and core business of UN PKO, whilst putting them into the larger continuum of peace operations. It’s guiding effect as a top-level policy document is limited to PKO. Peacekeeping is defined as a technique designed to preserve the peace, however fragile, where fighting has been halted, and to assist in implementing agreements achieved by the peacemakers. The Capstone Doctrine identifies “Conflict Prevention”, “Peacemaking”, “Peace enforcement”, and “Peacebuilding” as further building blocks within a range of activities undertaken to maintain peace and security. The Capstone Doctrine also identifies “grey areas⁠3” between these topical subjects.

Relevant to Special Political Missions, the grey areas between peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding become visible: SPM can be mandated anywhere except in the field of peacekeeping. The Capstone Doctrine elaborates the necessity of taking the interrelationship between peacekeeping and other forms of activities into account, but it does not provide guidance within those respective areas themselves, thus it does not provide guidance on SPM. This chapter’s relevance stems both from the fact that SPM can precede or succeed peacekeeping operations, or even coexist⁠4 with PKO.

In terms of historical development of what is, since the 1990s, known as Special Political Missions SPM, the SG’s first thematic report on SPM to the UN General Assembly as of July 29, 2013 is a core reference⁠5. And right at the beginning, the SG begins with stating that “at the heart of conflict, more often than not, are political issues.” This recognition is sitting at the heart of the HIPPO report of 2015, too. In the form of political missions, SPM go back in UN history to the early time of 1948, like peacekeeping operations do. In his report as of 2013, the SG describes the time between the late 1960s until the end of the Cold War (late 1980s) as a period of relative inactivity, and the following time until now as a “period of rediscovery post-cold war.” The report puts these missions into the areas of conflict prevention, peacemaking, and peacebuilding. The report also indicates that SPM over the two decades post-cold war grew significantly in number, size and the complexity of their mandates. Thus, as the SG’s report as of 2013 states itself, SPM and PKO followed a similar trajectory. The relevance for their interrelation, like seen in the graph from the 2008 Capstone Doctrine, becomes evident. This includes SPM development towards multidimensional mandates. Subsequently, the SG states that the SPM’s common reason of existence, preventing and resolving conflict, as well as helping Member States and parties to a conflict to build a sustainable peace is what defines these missions as “political”. It can be said that this does not establish a delineation to peacekeeping, taking into account the inherent political nature of those missions as well. It points towards the larger question of where contemporary SPM differentiate, at their political core, from contemporary PKO and points into the direction why the deployment of UNPOL, following a unified policy framework for their assistance, has become so relevant. One way or the other, the increased utilization of UNPOL in SPM testifies for the overall relevance of policing matters within UN efforts related to peace and security.

SPM exist in three main categories: special envoys; sanctions panels and monitoring groups; and field-based missions. The deployment of UNPOL into field-based SPM is a relatively young development, therefore, a narrative of SPM will only take this period into account. Contemporary SPM can serve (a) to promote reconciliation; (b) conducting mediation; (c) maintaining a sustained political dialogue; (d) provide electoral assistance and supporting efforts to prevent election-related violence; (e) coordinating donor assistance and mobilizing resources; (f) strengthening national capacities and supporting national priorities that are critical for a successful peacebuilding process, such as rule of law, security sector reform, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and mine action. Whilst the role of UNPOL expertise is obvious within category (f), there are other categories in which the expertise of UNPOL plays out being an important factor as well.

The SG’s thematic report as of 2013 points to another emerging area relevant to UNPOL, which holds true both for SPM and for PKO: According to the report, the operating environment of SPM is often affected by the instability coming from the effects of transnational crime and drug trafficking. Some SPM have mandates related to address transnational organized crime. It holds true for contemporary PKO too, and is well recognized. This important aspect of current and future challenges for UNPOL will be addressed in a separate chapter, looking at drivers of conflict, and threats to missions and their mandate implementation from serious and organized crime, corruption, violent extremism, and terror. But it points already at this stage towards the increasing role, and relevance, of United Nations international policing; the need to generate appropriate resources; provide a coherent normative framework; address the nexus between countries affected by conflict and regional dimensions; and partnerships with other international stakeholders.

The majority of all field-based SPM are deployed into Africa.

SPM and UNPOL

The contemporary environment in which many SPM find themselves in is very similar, often the same, as is the reality for PKO. In his 2015 report⁠6 on special political missions, the SG does refer to the same source of examination of peace operations, the HIPPO-report. He also sets the stage by using a narrative that holds true for both mission types: “The international peace and security landscape has deteriorated rapidly. Following two decades of consistent decline, the number of active civil wars increased almost threefold between 2007 and 2014. Today, the number of battle-related deaths and major civil wars is back at the level at which it was in the mid-1990s. The number of refugees and internally displaced persons around the world has reached a peak of 60 million people, and global humanitarian needs for 2015 are close to a record-setting $20 billion.” The cutting edge development, taking most recent developments into account, indicates also a sharp increase in the worldwide effects of violent extremism and terror, and the interrelation of civil war and terror with an unprecedented surge in migration.

Current status

The Department of Political Affairs currently maintains twenty-three field missions with the status “Special Political Missions” SPM worldwide. According to the Department’s website⁠7, political missions are part of a continuum of UN peace operations working in different stages of the conflict cycle. In some instances, following the signing of peace agreements, political missions overseen by the Department of Political Affairs during the stage of peace negotiations have been replaced by peacekeeping missions. In other instances, UN peacekeeping operations have given way to special political missions overseeing longer term peace-building activities.

The data available on UN websites is, as far as UNPOL deployments into SPM is concerned, inconsistent, and only partly available. Current UNPOL deployment into SPM is not documented on the DPKO website. According to a factsheet⁠8 maintained by the Department of Political Affairs, currently 293 uniformed personnel are deployed into SPM. On this factsheet DPA documents police deployments into UNAMA (4), UNAMI (0), UNIOGBIS (12), MENUB (0), UNSMIL (2), and UNSOM (5). This data is outdated, stemming from 2014.

Whilst DPA’s definition of SPM includes, inter alia, Special Envoys, the SPM UNOAU, or the United Nations Office to the African Union, is not mentioned on the DPA factsheet documentation of SPM. Rather, it features on the list of political missions of the Department’s main website⁠9.

UNPOL deployment into SPM in some more conceptual detail

In order to understand the interrelationship between UNPOL aspects within PKO and SPM to the extend necessary on a strategic level, some more detail needs to be given to specific deployments, in alphabetical order of the Mission acronyms.

BINUCA

The United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic was mandated to (1) support the implementation of a transitional process in the CAR; (2) support conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance; (3) support the extension of CAR State authority; (4) support the stabilization of the CAR security situation; (5) promote and protect human rights. As of April 10, 2014, BINUCA was subsumed in the UN PKO MINUSCA, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic. The reason for this sat with the significantly deteriorating situation in the CAR throughout 2012 and 2013, leading to atrocities against the civilian population on a large scale, and fears of an imminent genocide. During the existence of the SPM BINUCA, the International Communities’ engagement included the establishment of an AU peace support operation MISCA, the bilateral military engagement of the French government, through the Operation SANGARIS, and the EU military crisis management operation EUFOR CAR. This paved the way for the United Nations decision to create MINUSCA, and to subsume the activities of BINUCA through MINUSCA. Thus, BINUCA did not only provide the political platform of engagement of the UN’s conflict prevention diplomacy, but at later stages was also used as the political and operational platform to deploy a large PKO including military, police, civilian, and political engagement in the CAR through peacekeeping. MINUSCA emerged from BINUCA, but at the same time had to re-hat the military and police capacities and capabilities of the AU’s MISCA. 

MENUB

The United Nations Electoral Observation Mission in Burundi started it’s operations on January 01, 2015, closing at the end of the same year, according to public UN documentation⁠11.

UNAMA

Since October 2002 until today, UNAMA is including a small UNPOL contingent. UNAMA is a Special Political Mission providing political good offices in Afghanistan, working with and supporting the government, supporting the process of peace and reconciliation, monitoring and promoting human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict, promoting good governance, and encouraging regional cooperation.

In its long-standing contribution to UNAMA, UNPOL has witnessed the early stages of the International Communities’ large, and very diversified response to support to establishing Afghan institutions in the field of the police. Both the international engagement and the development of the ANP and other security actors have been extremely complex. Afghanistan has seen large scale capacity building efforts for policing embedded into the US-led military fighting coalition, and into NATO efforts of civilian capacity building within a large military fighting force which partly co-existed, and later followed on to US-led coalition efforts. Bilateral efforts through States contributing to the implementation of the so-called “Petersberg Agreement” were following a concept of “lead-nations” responsible for the coordination of efforts in the field of security and justice. Reality saw challenges in relation to coordination, bilateralism included. In addition to this, the European Union established a police mission in the context of the EU’s civilian crisis management, EUPOL Afghanistan. This Mission began 2006 and is still ongoing.

UNAMI

The DPKO website data is documenting UNPOL deployment into the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq between August 2012 and April 2015, with a maximum of four police officers, including a Senior Police Adviser. The operating political environment, and especially the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, led to ceasing the deployment of UNPOL in 2015.

UNIOGBIS

The engagement of the UN through field-based activities of DPA in Guinea-Bissau is long-standing. The United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau UNOGBIS began its work in 1999. In 2009, it was succeeded by the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau, UNIOGBIS. This SPM has a multidimensional mandate, inter alia rendering police capacity building assistance, including in the field of serious and organized crime. Due to the specific country situation and political, military, and crime-related history, UNIOGBIS’ activities  in relation to policing have multiple links with other UN Missions. UNIOGBIS closely works in partnership with PKO such as UNMIL, UNOCI, or previously with UNIPSIL and participates in activities that combine the different strengths of DPKO, DPA, UNODC, Interpol, and others.

The case of UNIOGBIS demonstrates the expansion of multidimensional UN mandates, requiring a very high degree of police expertise; the need, and emerging reality, of mission-based activities embedded into regional inter-mission cooperation and collaboration with a multiplicity of different actors; and the increasing and important role of UNPOL to conflict prevention, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding.

UNSMIL

The United Nations Support Mission for Libya is a SPM established in 2011. It is mandated to manage the process of democratic transition; to promote the rule of law and protect human rights; to restore public security, including through provision of appropriate strategic and technical advice and assistance to the Libyan government; to counter illicit proliferation of arms, and to coordinate international assistance.

For the purpose of this documentation, the highly complex situation in Libya, following the ending of 42 years under Qadhafi’s regime including through a coalition based military intervention, and the first free elections replacing the National Transitional Council, can not be described. Like in the above cases, both the specific situation in the country emerging from conflict, and the assistance by the International Community at large, bear similarities and carry country- and situation-specific differences. UNPOL, within UNSMIL’s mandate, contributed to rendering advice how to contribute to synergy and complementarity of action.

It was the deterioration of the political and security situation in Libya beginning in 2013 which led to both a relocation of large parts of UNSMIL, including the police component, outside the country itself, and to strategic adjustments which took the evolving situation into account. Due to the developments in the Region, the political process is fluid and, currently, fragile at best.

 UNSOM

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) was established in 2013, providing the United Nations “good offices” functions and a range of strategic policy advice in support of the Federal Government’s peace and reconciliation process. This SPM coexists with the United Nations Support Office for AMISOM, a logistical field operation to the African Union Mission in Somalia. The AU deploys AMISOM, a multidimensional Peace Support Operation. AMISOM includes a strong military fighting force, in order to reduce the threat posed by Al Shabaab and other armed opposition groups⁠12, and conducting a range of mandated tasks including assisting the Federal Government of Somalia in establishing conditions for effective and legitimate governance across Somalia. For this, AMISOM is also including an AU police component.

The United Nations UNPOL component within UNSOM is part of a larger unit which is strategically addressing the needs of Somalia within the field of security and the rule of law. The police components within UNSOM and AMISOM, on basis of a jointly defined understanding, cooperate closely, and in collaboration with Somali counterparts and consultation with the larger International Community.

The case of collaboration and attempting to deploy coherent assistance, between UNSOM and AMISOM, or the UN and the AU in Somalia, stands positively out. Whilst it is too early to gauge results, in a demanding, often deteriorating, very dangerous security environment, it is clearly an important step into the right direction.

Conclusions on SPM, and UNPOL

Simply looking at the reference made above to the structure of peace operations as mapped out in the Capstone Doctrine, and the mirroring statements within the SG’s reports on SPM since 2013, the requirement for an overarching conceptual framework policy on what UN international policing should bring to the table is becoming clear. The documentation of previous and current UNPOL activities, and the inter-relationship of UNPOL work in SPM with the respective work in PKO, adds. The conceptual clarity is maintained by the developing Strategic Guidance Framework, which is an extensive and labor intense work of the Police Division within DPKO, collaborating in the further development, amongst other, with DPA. It will be subject to a later chapter.

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1 HIPPO Report, executive summary, pg viii

2 United Nations Peacekeeping Operations – Principles and Guidelines, DPKO/DFS 2008; http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/documents/capstone_eng.pdf

3 Capstone Doctrine, pg. 19

4 Such as, for example, the PKO MONUSCO and the UN Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region

5 Report of the SG on overall policy matters pertaining to special political missions: http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/N1341359.pdf

Last access January 18, 2016

6 2015.09.30 Report of the SG on overall policy matters pertaining to special political missions: http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=a/70/400

7 http://www.un.org/undpa/in-the-field/overview

Access January 17, 2016

A factsheet is available under http://www.un.org/wcm/webdav/site/undpa/shared/undpa/pdf/ppbm.pdf

8 http://www.un.org/wcm/webdav/site/undpa/shared/undpa/pdf/ppbm.pdf

9 http://www.un.org/undpa/in-the-field/overview

10 https://menub.unmissions.org/en/about

11 http://amisom-au.org/amisom-mandate/