Police Reform – Bottom Up and Top Down

If somebody were to tell me that there is a kind of a universal blueprint which must be used for successful reform of police, I would be very suspicious. My experiences, good and bad, relate to addressing corruption and crime in medium size police precincts, warrior mentality in a police station under constant mental siege in a hostile environment, establishing community-oriented policing primacy in a large and diverse, yet national police organization, harmonising a joint understanding of service-oriented and accountable policing in extremely complex and diverse international executive policing environments, and in countless ways assisting jurisdictions ermerging and recovering from conflict in coming to terms with policing allowing to contribute to societal healing, and representing the communities they serve.

Nothing would allow me to refer to experiences how to alter policing in a setup where people estimate that a country has approximately 18.000 agencies responsible for policing. That is the situation in the United States of America, and that is the scope of the challenge over there. But I continue to stress that this is not about “Us and Them”. Rather, a critical examination of reform needs requires to take a self-critical look. It simply is a gargantuan task. Here just one from countless examples.

People take the streets all over the U.S. and globally in large numbers. Polls in the U.S. show that there is majority support for a profound change.

Not undertaking reform is not an option. Compared to the needs to change global bias and selfishness which expresses itself in so many forms, like racism and religious hatred, xenophobia, discriminating minorities, leaving impoverished societies to their own devices, or is depriving women or members of the LGBTQ community from equality in all its aspects, the task of reforming policing appears minuscule, though gargantuan in itself. I don’t want to ramble, but just the other day Greta Thunberg is reminding us, again, about tackling climate change being equal to tackling the Covid-19-pandemic.

We’ve got to shoulder this, otherwise we will be helpless and complicit bystanders: Anger never is a good adviser, but people are angry for many reasons these days, and on a profound level. Some actors follow the principle “If I can make you angry, I have already won over you.” If reactionary forces prevail in “weathering the storm”, muting the discussion and controlling it again, chances are that we may see chaos, rather than evolutionary development from which we collectively benefit. “Us and Them”-thinking will lead to a lot of collateral damage and we may wake up in a world one day which none of us wanted.

To find a meaningful entry point into a contribution, I suggest to look at a recent article “What happened when a city disbanded its Police”:

Two factors came together in Minneapolis which allowed for a sweeping reform of policing:

  1. Top Down: The commitment from highest leadership levels to embark on an undertaking with many risks, including risks for reputation and own job security;
  2. Bottom Up: A deep desire on a grass-root-level for change: Communities were fed up with the way how they were policed.

In my previous articles, I have reiterated where I stand on “how to police”. I have referred to a common denominator of policing: The United Nations’ “Strategic Guidance Framework” is incorporating principles such as the principle of community-orientend policing. I see the same principles at the heart of the re-design of policing which has been the result of a reform effort in Minneapolis.

The question how to design a police organization which is following such principles can lead to an evolutionary development of an existing organization, or, like here, to disbanding an existing police and to build a new one from scratch.

Both scenarios lead to disappointment amongst those who may feel that they have fallen victim to such a reform, like police officers who have lost their jobs, or police chiefs and leaders all the way down to first-line-supervisers who have been reassigned in course of the reform. The higher their numbers, the more difficult it will be to get the dissatisfaction voiced by them being absorbed within the discourse in a larger community, or society. One of the biggest mistakes of the Coalition Provisional Authority following the 2003 invasion of Iraq was “Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 2″: It disbanded the Iraqi military, security, and intelligence infrastructure of President Saddam Hussein. Many of those who lost their jobs ended up becoming members of insurgency groups and terrorist organizations and networks which brought chaos and death over Iraq and the wider region.

Painful decisions which will always leave some feeling being on the side of those who have lost from reform require a thorough process of thinking before springing into “less-than-thought-through-action”. Of course, Iraq is not the U.S., or Europe, and American police is lightyears away from forces which have been instrumental in a brutal dictator’s oppression of his own population, but this is universal psychology and it is a classic example of a toll which can be directly tracked to decisions which have not been based on a carefully synchronised discourse “top down” and “bottom up”. In any large scale reform, antagonization must be mitigated, without loosing sight of the dedication to achieve a fundamental change. Otherwise, reform will be watered down into mediocrity at best, or will lead to cosmetic reform with no chances for sustainability of efforts, or being entirely outrun by reactionary forces resisting change.

That is why real reformers will be measured by 

  1. Whether, including the top-levels, they mean what they say, and put action to where their mouth is;
  2. Whether they lead an inclusive discourse, from the top down, rather than following the path of antagonization and radicalisation of an “Us-and-Them”-rhethoric;
  3. Whether they listen to communities on the ground, including permanent and more than symbolic engagement by top leaders, and base their reform decisions entirely on including communities on the ground into shaping a joint vision of the future;
  4.  Whether they are ready to rely on the participation of communities on the ground in all aspects of implementing a reform effort, holding themselves accountable to those communities which shape the form of policing which these communities want, for themselves.

 

In following blog entries, I will touch upon two other elements which I see for successful police reform: A reform of insufficient training, and representative policing, which needs to focus on the role of persons and communities of color, on minorities, and the role of women as agents of transformational change.

 

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

Obituary – James Le Mesurier – † 11. November 2019

Einsame Nacht

Die ihr meine Brüder seid,
Arme Menschen nah und ferne,
Die ihr im Bezirk der Sterne
Tröstung träumet eurem Leid,
Die ihr wortelos gefaltet
In die blass gestirnte Nacht
Schmale Dulderhände haltet,
Die ihr leidet, die ihr wacht,
Arme, irrende Gemeinde,
Schiffer ohne Stern und Glück –
Fremde, dennoch mir Vereinte,
Gebt mir meinen Gruss zurück.

Hermann Hesse, 1902

I have looked up quite a few translations of this poem into English. I have found none which would carry the same powerful emotional language this poem possesses in its native version. It is one of my timeless favorites since more than 45 years. Its subtle meaning makes me deciding to use it for this obituary.

Last year saw the untimely death of James Le Mesurier. November 11, he was found dead on a street in Istanbul. A link in German language: https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/james-le-mesurier-fragen-und-antworten-zum-tod-des-weisshelme-gruenders-a-1296105.html. A link in English language: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/13/james-le-mesurier-obituary.

Like many, including closest friends of mine, I was devastated learning about his death. I met James during my time as the Police Commissioner of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, in 2002.

I worked closely with him. We shared a strong desire to contribute to ending the conflict there, working against the cycle of violence which still was a part of the reality back then, and for years ahead.

Beyond work, I got to know James as a compassionate human being, a humble person, never  making himself important, always being part of a team. I lost contact to him after I left Kosovo, in 2004.

Around 2013, James co-founded the White Helmets, together with AKUT, a Turkish disaster relief organisation. Today, there may be around 3000 White Helmets. Please watch the trailer of the award winning 2017 Netflix documentary about them: White Helmets. If you are interested in the full movie, head over to Netflix. But even if you just watch the trailer, it will already give you a sense of the incredible humanitarian work in which James engaged. I am working in the German Foreign Office. I am proud to say that my government is supporting the work of the White Helmets by political and financial means, and that we were shocked and saddened by his untimely death.

Much speculation sat around the circumstances of his passing away. I won’t engage in this. What I do note, however, is that James and his colleagues were subject to harassment and hate, because of their humanitarian engagement. When coming across evidence of chemical warfare against civilians, this evidence and video documentation was used in an investigation conducted by the United Nations. Governments in Damascus and Moscow subsequently launched a propaganda campaign including allegations that the video documentation was faked, and that the organisation would have ties to terrorist groups. According to Der Spiegel (see link above), the Syrian president threatened the White Helmets with comparing their fate with that of every terrorist: Either they lay down their weapons, or they will be liquidated. Which weapons was he talking about? Shovels, being used to rescue victims from the rubble, in the name of humanity? Bare hands?

James must be remembered as one example of how a person decides to stand up for values, and then taking action. Discrediting adversaries is one thing. Refusing accountability for attacks against the own population (link is an example of a UN investigative report following an attack with chemical weapons in Syria) and threatening those who help survivors to rescue other survivors belongs to the darkest chapters of inhumanity.

I miss James dearly.

2020

The link to this article, an opinion piece written by Madeleine Albright, has been sitting in my draft folder for this blog since April 2018. I am using it now, twenty months later. It has lost nothing of it’s relevance. The stakkato of hate, bigotry, white supremacy, disregard for the rule of law, bullying and forceful coercion, and shameless lies being thrown at 68 million followers on Twitter, and the rest of the World, has reached unimaginable levels.

Given the fatigue of many who have not found any other answer to what we are experiencing since 2017 (and before) than to say “What can we do?“, or “I am sick and tired of this, I do not want to hear from it any more!“, it has become ever more important to stay the course of standing up for truth and justice, humility, humanity, and caring for other beings.

One of the reasons why I was not writing on this opinion piece was that I felt that I ought to be careful with voicing a political opinion. Being a public servant in my home country, Germany, comes with obligations. Serving as an official grants me the protection against being fired for any other reason than severe misconduct, and it obliges me to conduct myself becoming in all my affairs. So, at that time, I decided not to write about the current incumbent of the office of the President of the United States.

Another reason was that my partner at that time, a well educated and liberal U.S. citizen, had told me that she did not want to even read about this person anymore, nor wasting her time discussing what was unfolding. This unsettled me. Because I felt that she wasn’t alone with this attitude, that many have given up raising their voice. I felt strongly that this is wrong, because it just leaves more space for those who vomit messages of hate and division. Yet, I accepted it.

I was living in the United States at that time. In August 2018, I returned to Germany, where I have been living since. And I am spending the last day of the year 2019 outside Berlin, escaping the fireworks and the noisy drunkenness, enjoying my RV, as they say in English, my little apartment on four wheels.

I am trying to make sense of all this development that I have been witnessing, and I have no formula explaining all this. It is way too complex for one convincing simple explanation. Because, of course, this is not about the U.S., or Germany, for that matter. Or Hungary. Or Italy. Or so many other places where nationalism is on the rise, and fascism is thriving ever so openly and without neither shame nor tolerance. There is absolutely no clear cut answer, it will take legions of historians decades from now to reduce the complexity of our current situation in hindsight and to come up with some big patterns about what happened, and why. If we survive until then.

Yet, it appears to me that exactly this overwhelming complexity, combined with instilling fear, is being used by the Great Simplifiers and Manipulators of this World to come up with easy and highly emotionalised messages of division, xenophobia, and rage.

It also is not about one of the most predictable persons I have ever witnessed. Nothing in the character of Donald Trump can surprise if one combines basic knowledge about narcissism, sociopathy in its most extreme form, and the fundamental personal insecurity which is so visible in what he says, how he says it, how his body language is telling the story he wants to hide. There is no reasoning, nor compromise. There is only rage and escalation. There are no friends, but only pawns, useful idiots, people in position of power to get along with, and foes. There is no point where this person will say: “I give in.” A person with this severe mental disorder is literally not capable to compromise. Rather than giving up, such a person will attempt to destroy everything. Such a person is unable to relate to other beings. That person’s only way of interaction is manipulation and coercion. I am feeling sorry for such people.

But what scares me is the silence of the lambs, combined with the willingness of many who claim to be part of the bedrock of democracy to subject themselves to the most severe form of self-mutilation: The removal of the spine. Shared principles stand in the way of selfishness, and this it seems: The unleashing of pure selfishness.

So, what do I have to say at the end of 2019? What can be said when many, if not all beacons of what we came to believe being the great achievements post World War II seem to fall apart, seem to be torn down, ripped into pieces? What can be the guiding principles which will allow us to navigate through the next decade, with 2019 filled to the brim with the ringing of alarm bells about a planet being on fire, and humankind seeming to be willing to accept inhumanity, and ever more so-called leaders unwilling to share this world amongst all, and displaying unwillingness to act responsible towards future generations?

I gave this answer to a group of students at a German university, a few weeks ago: If we do not know much about how the world is looking like tomorrow, and if we wonder about what is important, and what is less important, if we wonder about how we should engage, we must think deeply about the most fundamental values which we would like to preserve for the sake of our children, in any unknown scenario. And then, we must act according to these values. We do not need to be sages, university professors, people in powerful positions. We can carry out any function, take any role. We just have to live according to the principles we have wrestled from deep thinking. Just apply one basic rule: Do think for togetherness.

My eleven year old daughter wrote a letter to the King of Saudi Arabia. I am not posting it here. Just saying: She made me incredibly proud. In simple words, she made her values clear. And she turned them into action.

May 2020 be a year where we find ourselves discussing values, peacefully, and with willingness and ability to listen to the other, with love and compassion and the desire to understand the other being. And may we be guided by what we learn. Together.

Happy New Year.

 

Ending a leave of absence

So, I left the blog mostly unattended for a long while now. When my time with the United Nations ended and I arrived in Germany, many things took surprising, and to quite some extent, unwanted turns. I needed time to process. A lot of time. That’s how life is, isn’t it? I embraced my inward journey, embraced my fears, embraced my pain, embraced my mourning. It did not leave me much energy for more, and it was good that way, because that is normal. Everything in life is a source of learning, every development, every person is a teacher to me.

There always is a connection between my personal development and my professional path. So, for me my experience with how much time is needed to go through a healthy mourning process also serves a deepening understanding about how much time is needed to coping with similar processes on the level of a community, and a society. It runs counter the impatience of fast-paced political processes in an ever more fragile world. We always need a reminder that a quick fix here, and a quick fix there is merely having the same effect than a small firepatch has on a bushfire. And in a firestorm we are, for sure.

Back to my personal process, there is not much I am sharing at this moment in time. But at some point recently I finally knew which shape my book that I am going to write will take. It will include all personal aspects, and professional aspects, weaved together into the story it is: My story. From time to time, I will post parts of it here. I will give up the restraint talking about personal developments, and attempting to focus only on the lessons I learned in relation to my professional work. I am ready for this. Because, I believe, there is a lot of hope in it. Experience, strength, and hope will be the elements of this book.

I will retire from my work as an active police officer after 43 years and six months at the end of January 2020. Some freedom of expressing myself comes with it. Not that I will do the usual “memoir thing”: Settling scores, or telling secrets, or going sensational or boasting. Not at all. But as a highly visible individual at the interface between technical issues of helping, and the political side of it, I also decided to be a little more muted. No need for this any more.

Retirement will not mean I will sit at the fireside. I am looking forward to an exciting new opportunity to contribute to peace and security for the next many years, and I will spend a considerable time of it in my beloved Balkans. I will live in Belgrade, and will travel my second home town Sarajevo, will be in Pristina, Skopje, Tirana, and Podgorica. I will be in Berlin. And I will enjoy a new form of working and being with friends at the same time.

I will start my new phase of writing with posting a speech I gave on the topic of Protection of Civilians, on occasion of a workshop here in Berlin in the Ministry of Defense, just recently. It drew quite some attention, and some colleagues advised me to share it more widely. So, that I will do, herewith.

The Rule of Law

In what can be considered an unprecedented opinion-piece in the New York Times, former deputy attorney general Sally Yates raises a most serious concern: That the President of the United States is attempting to dismantle the rule of law. I don't know whether such an accusation against a sitting President has ever been raised before, nor it is my place to engage in this discussion.

However, being substantiated, or not, allegations of, and attempts to, undermine the rule of law have also been raised against other Heads of States of countries with a longstanding democratic tradition. Democratic governance serves the people who have decided to subject themselves to a system of elected political leaders, and institutions that hold everyone and themselves accountable to the law and the citizens. Any such system must be able to defend itself against external and internal threats. Both the rule of law and the freedom of press are indispensable for this. Eroding either, or both, has always ended in catastrophes.

If a former deputy attorney general publicly accuses the President of the United States of attempting to dismantle the rule of law, one can not prima facie assume it's fake news, or part of a witch hunt. As Sally Yates herself indicates, serious discussions about such concerns are risking to be drowned in "a daily barrage of alarming news". Moreover, the sheer intensity of distracting sensational noise, be it on social media such as Twitter, or elsewhere, numbs all of us. It is purposely meant to incapacitate, to suffocate, any responsible and accountable discussion. The "next thing" is meant to not allow focusing on "this thing", and checking on whether there is a "next thing" becomes obsessive, and addictive. Sensationalism becoming a weapon of warfare, politics become a soap opera filled with obscenities.

Democratic values, a rule of law applying equally to All, dignity, a culture of unemotional and fact-based discourse, all that and more can easily become a casualty in a firestorm of noise and emotional manipulation: Suggestions to rough up suspects in due course of an arrest, or to label criminals as "animals", serve only one purpose: De-humanization. What would you, mother or father, say if the police would bang your son's or daughter's head bloody against the roof of the police car, after an arrest following a, say, false allegation, and if the police would refer to being encouraged doing this by the President of your country? Where would you seek justice?

Peppering it up with sentences such as that criminal gangs have “transformed peaceful parks and beautiful quiet neighborhoods into bloodstained killing fields” is using mass-psychology in order to manipulate an already angry and emotionalized electorate. Goethe's Faust comes to mind: The ghosts that we called, now they won't go away and they will be haunting us: The divides between an angry electorate and increasingly frustrated opponents become greater day by day. Fueling it is playing with fire, the erosion of a common base may lead to waking up one day and wondering how we all got there.

Thus, it is heart-warming seeing the leadership of the law enforcement community standing up for values such as policing following the rule of law, and respecting human rights.

Ceterum censeo, Carthaginem delendam esse", so said a Cato the Elder, a senator of ancient Rome, in closing any speech in front of the Senate: "By the way, I am of the opinion that Carthage must be destroyed." It is a synonym for standing up for own convictions, no matter what.

Thus, I repeat the United Nation's definition of the rule of law below, and I congratulate, in my personal capacity, the courage of judges, prosecutors, and police chiefs, in affirming the public that the police and justice will stand up for the rule of law, and human rights, no matter what. Ceterum censeo: Torture does not work, and it is one of the most horrific atrocities of mankind.

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.”

 

The Moment of Truth

This is a blog in which I express my personal opinion.  At the end of the day, I am used to a restraint coming from being a public servant since fourty years, but there are things that need to be said.

I have watched the development on occasion of the upcoming U.S. Presidential Elections with an increasing amount of worry. I guess I am kind of witnessing what many did: First, I did not take the loudness, the bombastic self representation, the simplified language for four-year-olds, serious. I was kind of laughing at it, like many. Reading the blogs, the increasing amount of stories got amusing. Then annoying. Then worrying. Then scary. Yet, like all, I was devouring these stories, with disgust.

In December, late December, there was a climax in these stories and in the hate and xenophobia being expressed, something that appeared to go over the top, people were shocked, other people ranted and showed raw emotions of hate for everything alien, everything black, everything Mexican, everything Muslim. Then, for a few weeks, there was a sort of silence. It was like sobering up from getting drunk on all these stories we had gotten used to read, with mad fascination. 

Some said that perhaps they had enough, that the Republican Party might have had enough. For a few days, there was silence, and some believed that somebody had silently taken the gloves offs, saying “Shut up, now”.

I was skeptical. I saw everything from a perspective of a calculated rant undertaken by a demagogue, that we see somebody exploiting democracy and its weaknesses in plain sight. I guess I was very right. We see what is happening in the primaries. We see a terrible, horrible, disgusting, hate- and spiteful demagogy rising. We see somebody rising to becoming the nominee of his Party for the Office of the President of the United States who has no hesitation to top it all out. People realize this is getting real. There is this strange acceptance: “Well, so be it. Then Hillary has to beat him.” But what if she does not? Then, silence, like sheepish acceptance: At the end, it’s democracy in the works. 

Yesterday, I was remembering what I have read about how his political rallies are: We all have seen black Americans and Muslim Americans opposing his stances in these events, with democratic means. Wonderful people, true Americans. We all have seen that the climate of these events is of a kind that people with opposing opinions will not be tolerated, will be sent back by security if identified, or being thrown out in case of their expression of opposing opinion. Sometimes they will be handled roughly, with thinly veiled triumph from the podium, if veiled at all.

I remembered what happened in Weimar. They used these security guards as well. Later on then, after Hitler won, they changed the color of their uniforms from brown to black. Those who did beat people up during the campaigns, they became members of Armageddon’s hellish armies.  All of a sudden, all my memory of how things went in the Weimar Republic, when it was taken over in the open by a demagogue who did not withhold any of his intentions, all that came up. There is a reason in post-war Germany why we use the term “wehrhafte Demokratie” for a form of constitutional setup which enables our democracy to act against demagogues who try to undermine it, to destroy it: The reason is that the Weimar Republic got destroyed this way. We woke up after the Holocaust.

And then I read this article below. Read it! Please. Read it! It is one of the best articles I have read in a long while, and I could not agree more. I was almost relieved that somebody with a U.S. passport said what I felt, with a great unease.

The moment of truth: We must stop Trump https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/moment-of-truth-we-must-stop-trump/2016/02/21/0172e788-d8a7-11e5-925f-1d10062cc82d_story.html

It is time, really time, to stand up and to say “No”. And to say it loudly. 

Already in December I said that the damage done even if this candidate won’t make it is already too much. Now, towards end of February and in the middle of the primaries, the divisions in this country go deeper than ever. The moderate and reasonable people need to speak up, now, and loudly. There needs to be a debate. It needs to be inclusive. All those who have begun to follow this demagogue, they need to be able to reconcile. It will be hard for them to admit they were following a demagogue. It’s typical for conservative minds that they will not admit a mistake of this kind. It’s typical for many other people, too. It’s basic human psychology. But reconciliation of this division will require being gentle with each other, Democrats and Republicans. Otherwise the divisions will persist.

Just dreaming. In case this nightmare would end. It’s up to us All to end it. I really hope it does. This man is young enough to try it again, in four or eight years, if he does not succeed now.

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