December 12, 2019, I was invited as a panelist in a workshop with the above title, convening a number of experienced individuals providing a political, humanitarian, military, and policing perspective to one of the most demanding topics within the context of peace operations of the United Nations. The following is my contribution to this workshop, as a panelist.
The moderator of the panel in which I participated, provided the following framework
For our discussion, it would therefore be wonderful if you could speak for 10-12min, addressing from your own experience some of the points above, identifying concrete challenges and practical ways to overcome them – with the aim of providing advice for a potential stronger role of Germany in implementing POC . I would in particular encourage you to provide as many concrete examples as possible to illustrate the points to the audience.
I can not help but begin with asking four crucial questions, when we talk about “Protection of Civilians”. If we would jump immediately into military and policing aspects, I believe that we are repeating a mistake which I have witnessed being made all too often:
Protection by whom?
Protection for which reasons?
Protection against what?
Protection with which means?
Let me explain:
Protection by whom?
We usually say that the protection of the civilian population is a core responsibility of the State in question. And then I usually say: When a peacekeeping mission is mandated to protect civilians, this is a substitution for this responsibility, because the State in question can’t, doesn’t want to, or should not, exercise this responsibility, or any combination of these three reasons. I can give many examples, if it is useful, later on.
But we usually conclude from the fact that we substitute for a State responsibility that the State in question has been exercising this responsibility before, by means of a State apparatus including police, and military. Which is often not true. Quite often, the reach of the State and its organs is limited to urban areas, or the Capital. Like in Afghanistan, Yemen, to some extent Somalia, or in the northern parts of Mali, and for various reasons. Or there is, for example, Abyei, the “Box” between Sudan and South Sudan, where there is no State authority because the area is subject to unsolved political disputes.
The reality, however, is that very often, when there is no conflict, and no State authority, it does not mean that nobody exercises POC. We often disregard, or sometimes have difficulties to accept within the culture of our thinking, the relevance of tribal structures, or co-existing parallel frameworks affecting only parts of the population: Like two different frameworks in Nigeria, one for the Muslim part of the country, one for the non-Muslim part.
Why is this important? Because I often see the reflex in mandates that we talk about the extension of State authority, and meanwhile the peacekeepers exercise POC. Like in Mali. Well, in Kidal the extension of State authority from Bamako is not creating much enthusiasm, same in Somalia or in many other places.
So, when we start to protect within a flawed, but well-meant, political context, we run into problems: SRSGs, Force Commanders, and Police Commissioners. We can discuss that.
Protection for which reasons?
They are being slaughtered. They hide amongst piles of dead neighbors in Srebrenica, pretending to be dead. They are being raped and killed in the open, outside of the Gates of UN camps in South Sudan. They have no justice, nor order, in Abyei. They are target of extremists and terrorists in Kidal, Mopti, Gao, Timbuktu. They are being recruited as slaves or servants or child soldiers, in the DRC, or in Burkina Faso or Niger, as they were in Sierra Leone, or Liberia. They are subject to retaliation by the Kosovo Liberation Army after the Serb VJ and the MUP had to leave, as a consequence of the Military Technical Agreement in Kosovo. And on and on and on.
I said it: We substitute for the absence of protection. We do know from longstanding experience that successful substitution works better at the beginning, where we do not have more than, at best, initial operational capacity, and an enthusiastic population, as well as a somewhat muted group of former powerholders. Then we struggle with generating the necessary means, and meanwhile things get difficult for us for a million reasons. Sooner or later they don’t like us that much, any more. And then we see that there is no sustainable alternative to domestic protection of civilians. At times, or often, we realize that too late.
Substitution needs the implementation of capacity building from the very first day on, as an exit strategy. And here we run into a plethora of challenges. Let me pick two: We don’t like to talk to former militia and else, they may be subject to war crime investigations. But to whom do I talk? Or I heard, in Mali and in CAR: We can not do capacity building, because they have to run through their elections first. So, we delay capacity building. Or, in Mali, I saw that we got the responsibility to capacitate four different law enforcement branches. Unfortunately, the former group of Tuareg controlled by terrorists had taken away the police cars, radios, ripped the electricity cables from the police stations, and they used the cars for attacking the population during power cuts in the dark. And when I asked the international community to help not only with training, but with equipment, the response was very muted, to put it mildly. Or in Bangui: I saw the DG of the Police in his headquarters. A few pieces of paper from destroyed criminal archives were still floating around, a rusty skeleton of a police car stood on the compound, windows were broken, and the one AK 47 I saw I would not even have test-fired without standing behind a solid wall.
Protection against what?
Every police and military planner will ask this question first: What is the threat? Contemporary conflict environments are facing a dimension of threats which is very different from parties to a conflict having agreed to a peace agreement and still some flares of violence continue. Our environments include asymmetric threats, sometimes we talk about “non State actors”, but I talk about a complex web of interests between local and State powerholders, extremists, terrorists, organized crime, former warlords, rebellious military and police commanders, and and and. Any physical protection by police and military is being set into a political context where SRSGs need to talk and negotiate and exercise coercion and nurture agreements, but where stakeholders within the economy of crime and conflict tend not to talk openly to those SRSGs. Rather, they at best disregard the political, military and police means given to the peacekeepers. If these peacekeepers run across their interests, they are being targeted, and/or the population is, because if one wants to control a population, one needs to disrupt communication between those who protect them, and themselves. Then, offer some social services yourselves, and the Stockholm Syndrome will help deepening the divisions.
Protection requires communication between the protectors and the protected at the core. I will spare examples for the discussion.
Secondly, the threat is hybrid: On the extreme side, it is a military threat. On the other side of the spectrum, it may be a criminal threat, and a threat to order because of the absence of elements of order. But in the huge middle part of the spectrum of threats, these threats are hybrid. This does not allow for applying distinctly separate military and policing means. When the Bridge Watchers in Mitrovica-North had taken advantage of some foolish international police officers who thought they could flex their muscles, any international presence broke down. I flooded the place with short-sleeved police officers, under heavy area protection by KFOR and heavily armed Formed Police Units. Their task was to go where the Bridge Watchers were, and to talk to the population, and to shopkeepers. Explicitly, they had to disengage if subject to provocation. And they had to come back the next day, and the next day, and the next day. I can explain how we turned the situation around. Later.
So what I say is that military and police peacekeepers are within an extremely robust environment where they both need to exercise policing logic and means. This does not only require sufficient police, but also sufficient soldiers who are trained in policing logic, and it requires a joint structure of command. In my view, my friend Maqsood Ahmad, MilAd, and I, PolAd, were not successful in trying this in Bangui. Because neither Military Commanders nor Police Commanders were willing to trust each other under one chain of command. Neither when we gave it to the Police Commissioner, nor later on, after heavy violence, to the Force Commander.
Which leads to the last topic:
Protection with which means?
I will be brief, because this needs to be discussed:
POC begins with a sound political understanding.
Political leaders of peacekeeping operations need to make both Force Commanders and Police Commissioners a core element of their daily consultations. They need to hold these Commanders accountable for jointness, and they have to demonstrate leadership in checking on to which extent military and police leaders in peacekeeping operations work together, rather than only saying they do. SRSG have to reach out to both, and not to talk about “The Force”, meaning their military means, and the Police Commissioner as an annex. Likewise, a Police Commissioner who does not entrust policing tasks to military colleagues, and instead saying he needs more attention, and police officers, just hides behind this seemingly correct argument, instead of embracing the reality: He or she won’t get more officers, and even if there were enough, still there is a massive need of jointness of thinking and planning and implementing concepts to protect civilians. And if police and military leaders tell you that the respective counterpart doesn’t work with you, and you hear it from both leaders, fire them both.
We can complain about the absence of enough police capacity for policing problems, it will not change. I have deliberately not commented on the POC strategy, and what I did between 2013 and 2017 to come up with a POC doctrine for UNPOL. The message that I want to get through at the end is that colleagues in green and blue fatigues with blue helmets are facing a challenge which they can only solve in unison. This needs to be reflected in training. I have repeatedly said: I don’t care about the color of the uniform. I care about the function to be implemented. In vast parts, this is about policing in a rough and dangerous environment. So, I suggest we overcome the hesitation that comes into play when military colleagues begin to think and to train like police. It is the single-most important challenge on the side of uniformed peacekeepers to overcome the divide between green and blue, and to be both green and blue in hearts and minds.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
(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.
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
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;
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is a long one, and it’s technical, just so that you know. This one is on what we in the United Nations call “peacekeeping”. We do much more, and if you continue to read future blog entries, you will see that. But we, United Nations Police, or UNPOL, we have our roots in peacekeeping, so a narrative of where we come from, in order to understand where we should go, it comes from here. You will, if you bear with me, see step by step the unfolding picture of the nexus of conflict prevention, conflict intervention, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, and why I believe there is an important role for our policing work in all of it, and what needs to be done to get better with it.
Which, by the way, is not what I say. We all say it, and our voices get heard more. So here you go. There are other versions of these articles, for an internal audience, with internal conclusions. This is the version for the external audience, based on what everyone can research for oneself. Conclusions are mostly general, so that I can say that here, without mixing up a private post and an official function which I hold.
After this one, I will publish a piece on what we call Special Political Missions. Then, in the following instalment, I will go beyond, leading to the larger question of why international policing needs to be considered an important element in the struggle of the World finding answers for our most pressing problems, stemming from crime, violent extremism, terror, and corruption, and their interrelation with maddening conflict, leading to people desperately wanting to escape from it, to the safe harbors of States who get overwhelmed by this migration, struggling for finding answers.
Meanwhile, I will also work on unrelated, or partly related blog articles.
General aspects of conflict and mandates for PKO
The development of peacekeeping operations is often broadly categorized into the early years, a post cold-war surge, and an ongoing and rapidly evolving contemporary, increasingly complex situation1. The role of international policing in UN peace operations has grown over time, in numbers, complexity, and forms of deployment. International policing in UN peace operations begins, but does not end with, peacekeeping operations, though peacekeeping forms the largest base, in terms of numbers of operations, and numbers of UN police (UNPOL) deployed.
Since 1948, the United Nations is looking back on sixty-nine peacekeeping operations (PKO), of which sixteen operations are currently ongoing2. Overall, until today the UN deployed PKO into forty-nine different countries, and twenty-three of these countries were subject to more than one PKO. The Security Council mandated thirty-nine of these sixty-nine operations to include police capacities. Twelve of the current sixteen operations include police components. In terms of duration of currently ongoing PKO, two were founded before 1950, one dates back to mid of the sixties, and two originate from the 70’s. Two ongoing operations stem from the time between 1990 and 1999. Ten currently ongoing peacekeeping operations are, therefore, less than fifteen years old.
The UN undertook a first peace operation in 1948, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO), pursuant to the Charter of the United Nations. Over many years to come, a gradual development of mandates of such operations would lead from the deployment of unarmed military observers towards the use of armed military peacekeepers, beginning with the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF I) in 19563. UN peacekeeping would see the first deployment of police peacekeepers, alongside military colleagues, in 1960 with the establishment of the United Nations Operation in the Congo (ONUC). However, the post cold-war decade can be seen as the decisive turning point from when on mandates of UN PKO grew more and more complex, towards what nowadays is known as “multidimensional mandates” of peacekeeping operations.
The Security Council mandated two PKO between 1948 and 1949, two PKO between 1950 and 1959, six PKO between 1960 and 1969, three PKO between 1970 and 1979, five PKO between 1980 and 1989, thirty-five PKO between 1990 and 1999, ten PKO between 2000 and 2009, and six PKO between 2010 and 2015. The surge within the nineties reflects the World’s struggle to find a new order after the end of the cold war.
New peacekeeping operations of the post cold-war era found themselves confronted with ongoing, or emerging intra-state conflict, the breaking of Nations, with assistance throughout and after the forming and recognition of a new State, or a continued presence in case of disputed situations. In some cases, in presence of ongoing PKO, conflict culminated in atrocities against civilian populations, and genocide: The United Nations Assistance Mission to Rwanda (UNAMIR) was deployed in 1993. It was meant to assist in the implementation of an accord aiming at ending a civil war. In 1994, the mission found itself confronted with a collapse of the peace agreement, and with a genocide leading to atrocities on an unimaginable scale: Within 100 days, an estimated 800.000 to 1.000.000 minority Tutsi and moderate Hutu were killed4. The United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) was deployed in 1992 in Croatia and Bosnia & Hercegovina during the conflict that would ultimately lead to the breaking up of Yugoslavia. In July 1995, forces under the command of General Ratko Mladić killed more than 8.000 Bosniaks in and around the enclaves of Srebrenica and Žepa5. Both situations in Rwanda and Bosnia&Herzegovina were ruled as genocide. They confronted the United Nations with painful questions of how to protect civilians affected by conflict. The experience has profoundly impacted on the conscience of the United Nations. Twenty-five years of discussion are still ongoing and include political and aspects of international law6 and they impact policy decisions until then, including in actual situations7.
The continuation of the break-up of the former Yugoslavia through the Kosovo conflict in 1998 and the violence in Timor-Leste after the referendum in 1999 led to the deployment of peacekeeping operations including the Security Council mandating the UN to carry out transitional authority. Peacekeeping operations in Kosovo and in Timor-Leste were based on mandates with extensive executive powers, including a full executive policing authority vested into United Nations police peacekeepers. Whilst the following decade saw no repetition of such comprehensive powers vested into a peacekeeping operation, a partial renewed reoccurrence can be witnessed with the inclusion of so-called “Urgent Temporary Measures” into the mandate of MINUSCA in the Central African Republic, 2014.
More generally, the continuation of the development post cold-war led to the increasing use of peacekeeping operations to deal with restoring a State’s ability to maintain security and public order, building political and legal institutions in disrupted States, and promoting a culture of law, democracy, and social economic recovery. Consequently, peacekeeping operations now bring together international military, police, and civilian personnel, all of which are jointly engaging in ‘multidimensional peace operations8’. In an increasing number of cases, intra-state conflict continued to include atrocities against the civilian population on a very large scale, requiring from peacekeepers to both contribute to the protection of the civilian population to the best of their abilities, and to begin the arduous long-term task of assistance to restoration and development of legitimate and capable State authority. At times backlashes would occur under the eyes of the UN, such as, for example, in Kosovo in 2004, in Timor Leste in 2006, or in South Sudan at the end of 2013, leading to renewed or reinforced commitment including of police components.
Twelve out of sixteen PKO which were established between 2000 and 2015 can be characterized as multidimensional operations, including police components. In addition, two of the remaining four PKO include policing aspects: In September 2005 the Security Council, in consultation with the authorities of Chad and the CAR, authorized the deployment of a UN civilian and police operation, MINURCAT, and a European Union military force (EUFOR), in order to contribute to the protection of civilians9. With the Security Council mandating UNISFA10 to monitor and verify the redeployment of any Sudan Armed Forces, Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLM) or its successor from the Abyei area, provision was also made for the anticipated establishment of the Abyei Police Service, leading to a small deployment of UNPOL.
In relation to conflicts leading to a multidimensional engagement of UN peacekeeping, the case of the situation in Mali in 2013 stands out: The conflict situation in Mali included a clearly identifiable intra-state conflict including an armed confrontation including Tuareg rebels and a military coup, but also the activities of regional terrorist groups affiliated to Al Qaeda, attempting to destabilize, and ultimately to overthrow, legitimate governance in Northern Mali. Likewise, the situation in Mali can be identified as the first situation in which the United Nations now recognizes the influence of transnational organized crime affecting the implementation of the mandate of a peacekeeping operation, together with violent extremism, terrorism, and corruption.
Geographic deployment of PKO
The Security Council mandated UN Peacekeeping Operations for situations in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central&South America, Europe, and the Middle East. Whilst there are little noteworthy patterns for the time between 1948 and 1989, and the overall numbers of peacekeeping operations per decade remained comparatively low, the development for the post cold-war period, leading into contemporary development, is significant: Since the last decade of the 20th century, until today, the vast majority of PKO has been mandated in Africa11. The breakup of the the former Yugoslavia in the nineties is the main responsible factor for an exceptional number of PKO mandated in Europe12 during the last decade of the 20th century. Aside of Africa, only Asia and the Caribbean saw three new PKO between 2000 and 2009. Since 2010, until today, the Security Council has exclusively established PKO in Africa13. Nine out of sixteen currently ongoing PKO operate in Africa. Three ongoing PKO operating in the Middle East belong to the group of the most long lasting PKO14. Two ongoing PKO in Europe are older than 15 years15. Likewise, the only existing active PKO in Asia looks back at 67 years of existence16. All current newer development, except one PKO in the Caribbean17, relates to Africa. The ongoing nine PKO in Africa are between two and 25 years of age.
Peacekeeping operations and United Nations Police
The evolution of conflict situations the Security Council had to grapple with, and the gradual development of mandates through which peace operations were mandated to address them, had a direct impact on the deployment of police officers into UN peace operations. Historical data from the early decades is sparse, compared to the period between 2000 and 2015, but the numbers of police officers deployed into peacekeeping operations between 1960 and the end of the Cold War were very low. Peacekeepers were military staff, either unarmed observers, or lightly armed soldiers. For very specific reasons, sometimes police officers were added. Until mid 1992, the overall numbers on average amounted to less than hundred18.
Available data from 1992 onwards begins with almost 3.700 police officers deployed, peaking 1993 around 4.500, and showing variations between 1.500 and 3.500 police officers until the end of that decade: The time between 1989 and 1999 can be identified as the first phase of an increased use of policing capacities within the handling of post-conflict situations by the United Nations, beginning with a large police contingent in UNTAG, for the situation in Namibia, in 1989. Within the following decade, the Security Council mandated twenty-one new PKO (roughly two-third of all new PKO during that time) to also deploy police contingents, then known as Civilian Police, going by the acronym CivPol. Counting UNTAG from 1989 as well, these PKO were deployed into States struggling with conflict, and into various phases and regional areas of the disintegrating former Yugoslavia, from where new States and the still unsolved status question of Kosovo emerged. Counting the latter as one geographic area with the same underlying conflict, therefore these twenty-one PKO addressed conflicts in thirteen States/disintegrating States. Six affected States are located in Africa, including UNTAG in Namibia with the first ever very considerable police deployment19. The last decade of the outgoing 20th century witnessed a three years authorized deployment of up to 3.500 police in Cambodia, whilst this decade saw the beginning of the considerable sequence of PKO addressing instability in Haiti, the disintegrating Yugoslavia, and East Timor, today known as Timor Leste. It were these big-hitters where tasks of restoration of State authority, including transitional UN governments, required large police contingents.
Therefore, the steep rise to almost 8000 police officers from mid 2000 on stems from PKO with large scale deployments of police into the situations in Bosnia&Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Timor Leste. The transition from United Nations peacekeeping to European Union crisis management in Bosnia&Herzegovina in 2002 and the downsizing of UNPOL contingents in Kosovo and Timor Leste after building up domestic policing capacity led to a decrease to around 4000 police officers in PKO around mid 2003. At this low-point, the numerical majority of UNPOL in PKO was deployed to Kosovo.
From 2004 on, numbers are rising steadily until end of 2008, at which time the UNPOL deployment into Kosovo becomes residual. Responsible for this increase is a fundamental shift towards UNPOL deployments into situations in Africa: The emerging deployments to Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, and Sudan (through two separate PKO, UNMIS and UNAMID) add to renewed commitments to Timor Leste after unrest in 2006, and a continued deployment to Haiti. The decrease in overall deployment of UNPOL to PKO between late 2008 and early 2009 is solely attributable to the hand-over of policing activities from UNMIK in Kosovo to the European Union, as was the case as well at the end of 2002 with the hand-over of such activities in Bosnia&Herzegovina.
From early 2009 on until summer 2012, UNPOL sees an increase in actual deployed officers from less than 10.000 to 14.500, more or less uninterrupted. The continued commitment to Timor Leste and a significant increase in Haiti in the aftermath of the terrible earthquake in January 2010 add to more or less continuous deployments to Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Liberia. The UN took, together with the AU, responsibility for peacekeeping in Darfur, Sudan, by establishing the so-called hybrid mission UNAMID, jointly led by the UN and the AU. Taking over from a previous AU peace operation AMIS, which included considerable police capacities, UNAMID became the PKO with the largest police component ever so far, peaking beyond 5.500 police. With the emergence of the new country South Sudan in 2011, separating from Sudan, a commitment to UNMIS was seamlessly followed up through the establishment of two new PKO, UNMISS in South-Sudan and UNISFA for the demilitarized area of Abyei.
At the end of 2012, the termination of peacekeeping in Timor Leste and adjustments in Haiti were the main reason for a small decrease in deployed numbers. Since 2013, the deployment numbers are on the rise again, currently culminating in 14.000 police officers towards the end of 2015. Despite adjustments in ongoing PKO, due to progress, but also significant political pressure to redistribute, rather than requesting for the deployment of more police, this increase is attributable to the emergence of a civil war in South Sudan in December 2013, and the establishment of new PKO in Mali (2013) and the Central African Republic (2014).
Major external factors affecting UN peacekeeping, and especially the deployment of UNPOL
The UN categorizes development of peacekeeping into the early years, a post cold-war surge, and an ongoing and rapidly evolving contemporary21, increasingly complex situation22. As shown above, the period after the end of the cold war has led to major developments for, and within, PKO between 1989 and 1999 which include the visible immediate consequences that began with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Towards the end of the past millennium, and at the dawn of the new millennium, three developments influencing policing in peacekeeping and peace operations at large stand out. They are formative, both affecting contemporary conflict and the International Communities’ response to it. In sum these developments are: (1) The emergence of the European Union’s Crisis Management within it’s Common Foreign and Security Policy CFSP; (2) The impact of the post 9/11 situation; (3) The emergence of peace support operations of the African Union.
(a) The emergence of the European Union’s Crisis Management
The Cologne European Council June 1999 included a declaration on strengthening the EU’s ability to act externally, paving the way into the Union’s Common Policy on Security and Defence23 CSDP. The members of the European Council declared that they want to develop “an effective EU-led crisis management”. This is the beginning of setting the European Security and Defence Policy ESDP into motion, a part of the larger CSDP. It quickly led to the establishment of capacities and capabilities for aspects of civilian crisis management, including policing. Subsequently, the European Union established its first ever crisis management operation under this policy, the European Union Police Mission in Bosnia&Hercegovina EUPM. EUPM followed seamlessly on to UNMIBH, re-hatting United Nations police. EUPM lasted from end 2002 to mid 2012. A deployment of international police into peace operations, therefore, began in Bosnia&Hercegovina immediately after the Dayton Peace Agreement and lasted for seventeen years. Likewise, a few years later the European Union began its preparation to take over from UNMIK in Kosovo. In 2008, the EU civilian crisis management mission EUJUST LEX followed on to the work of UNMIK within the field of security and the rule of law, leading to a continuation of the deployment of international police officers in significant numbers, lasting until today. In the case of Kosovo therefore, an ongoing line of sixteen years of deployment of international police into a peace operation has been formed. This fits into the picture as can be seen in UN PKO and will later be demonstrated as week in the case of the African Union: The contemporary duration of intense deployment of policing capacity through peace operations bridges at least a decade, and more. The deployment of police capacity itself, however, frequently witnesses a mix of different peace operations, involving various actors aside the UN.
The European Union development from 1999 until today includes a large variety of missions of different types many of which, at least on the civilian side, have led to smaller and more specialized deployment of police contingents or police missions, with specialized mandates reflecting the interest of the EU abroad. Aside of the two above cases of taking over responsibility from UNPOL, these past and ongoing missions do in significant numbers deploy into the same theaters of operation in which UNPOL is contributing to the task of protecting civilians, and building host State capacity. In one case, a small specialized EU police contingent was directly given to the African Union Mission AMIS, assisting the African Union Mission in Sudan in policing aspects in Darfur, before the UN/AU hybrid operation UNAMID took over from AMIS at the beginning of 2008. In all cases where parallel engagements including policing happens, synchronization on operational, strategic, and policy level on headquarters and field level have a direct impact on successful implementation of either mandate24. Deployment figures of EU policing are not as readily available as they are for the UN.
(b) The impact of the post 9/11 situation
Following the terror attack of September 11, 2001, global change affected peacekeeping operations. Related to effects on the UN’s ability to deploy UNPOL into UN peacekeeping, and the overall activities of UN Member States and Regional Organizations to utilizing national police assets within their own conduct of peace operations, two country situations stand out: Iraq and Afghanistan.
Coalitions of States, all of them UN Member States, and many of them Member States of the EU and of NATO, contributed significant police contingents into multilateral or bilateral efforts of crisis stabilization and post-crisis development of domestic capacities. The financial, staff, and development aid efforts for both country situations are huge. Detailed overviews do, unfortunately, not exist. However, it is fair to establish the hypothesis that UN Member States including those which form today’s EU, as well as the United States of America and Canada continued to uphold a significant contribution of police to overseas operations throughout the following decade. These operations include multilateral coalitions beginning with military campaigns which later broadened into multilateral peace support operations, NATO peace support operations, and EU crisis management operations. Multilateral coalitions used a large diversity of conceptual approaches how to utilize police capacities. However, the necessary police capacities were not added to the contribution into UN PKO. Rather, a realignment of limited resources to shifting national priorities led to a decrease of their contribution to UN PKO.
(c) The emergence of peace support operations of the African Union
With the establishment of the African Union AU in 2001 and its launch in 2002, UN Member States in Africa formed a continental political body including the intent to promote peace and security in Africa. It led to the AU conducting own peace support operations PSO, including the utilization of police capacities and capabilities. Amongst other operations, and relevant for this analysis only, the AU has conducted a PSO in Sudan, Darfur Region (AMIS), in Mali (AFISMA), the Central African Republic (MISCA), and is conducting a PSO in Somalia (AMISOM), all of which include police. Currently, the AU is preparing for the deployment of a peace support operation to Burundi (MAPROBU). All AU PSO have included police components, and all have been followed on by UN peacekeeping operations: AMIS has handed over its operations in Sudan’s Darfur region to a UN peacekeeping operation jointly conducted by UN and AU, the first and, so far, only hybrid mission. AFISMA in Mali was succeeded by MINUSMA, and MISCA in the Central African Republic was succeeded by MINUSCA. All these cases have led to the re-hatting of military and police contingents. De facto all these contingents were far away from any UN minimum standard, in terms of training, equipment, command and control, and the relationship between field operations and strategic headquarters. Politicial needs and the dire situation of civilians horribly affected by violence and terror simply dictated a pragmatic approach, leading to extraordinary challenges, including within the police contingents, by the UN, regional organisations such as the EU, and bilateral commitments, in order to bring these contingents up to minimum standards. The operational challenges of the hybrid mission in Darfur add. Instruments formed by political and security mechanisms of the AU co-exist with mechanisms of the UN, and the EU, in the same countries, posing another set of challenges to effective assistance. From a peacekeeping perspective, two country situations stand out at this moment: Somalia and Burundi: (1) The AU PSO AMISOM in Somalia is the largest AU operation on the continent, including a fighting force combatting the terror of Al Shabab, and including a relatively small police contingent with operational and capacity building tasks. The UN on the other side is engaging in Somalia with the Special Political Mission UNSOM, including a small but capable rule of law and security element, including UNPOL. Recently, the collaboration between police in UNSOM and AMISOM has been systematically strengthened, following a UN initiative. This included specialized deployment of the UN Police Division’s Standing Police Capacity SPC. A joint political benchmarking process regularly revisits the question whether the AU mission could, and should, be followed on by a UN PKO. (2) In December 2015, the UN Security Council authorized the AU to deploy a prevention force into the deteriorating situation in Burundi. This deployment has not happened yet and is, at the time of this writing, being met by strong political resistance from Burundi itself. Taking this into account, the UN has been requested to carry out contingency planning for worst-case scenarios, including own operational deployments. Aside of the already complicated process of support for AU PSO and hand-over from these operations, this presents the UN, including police planning and operations, with new scenarios including for forceful preventative entry.
The impact of these factors on UNPOL in PKO
Complex political, policy, and operational cooperation between UN, AU, and EU with relevance to UNPOL will be discussed later. In terms of impact on peacekeeping, and policing deployment into PKO, the deployment of UNPOL into PKO underwent a fundamental change: In addition to the Security Council continuing, and increasing, to focus PKO on conflict in Africa, the composition of major Police Contributing Countries to UN PKO in these operations dramatically changed: (1) The decrease in overall deployment of UNPOL into PKO to a low point end of 2003 includes a first downsizing in Timor Leste, but also a re-hatting of UNPOL into police in EU crisis management in Bosnia&Herzegovina. (2) The decrease of contribution of EU Member States, but also the USA, beyond the end of UN peacekeeping is further rooted in steady downsizing and, finally, the same transfer of responsibility to the EU in Kosovo, 2008. (3) The commitment to bi- and multilateral engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan consumed police capacities, financial, and development commitment on the side of States who added this to their much larger costly military engagement. As a result, the contribution from these PCC to UNPOL went down to a minimum in numbers. As the overall deployment of UNPOL nearly doubled since 2000, the share of these PCC has become marginal. Despite some discussion as to whether the ending engagement in Afghanistan could lead to a renewed commitment to UN PKO, this trend has not stopped. (4) A similar trend is visible for PCC from Central& South America, however for none of the reasons above. (5) Subsequently, today’s majority of UNPOL come from PCC in the Middle East (with Jordan being the only major PCC in this group), Asia, and Africa. (6) A trend is visible with a reduced contribution from Asian PCC. Partly this might be a consequence of national policy decisions, including, but not only, contemporary struggle with violent extremism and terror at home. Equally, the promotion of the value of African ownership in Africa plays a role. Finally, the increased demand of francophone capacities in Africa affects the Asian supply side. (7) Many of the reasons above logically contribute to the fact that PCC from Africa continue to increase their share, beyond the fact that they constitute today’s majority. African PCC were a minority in 2000, with main contributors coming from Europe, North America, and Asia. African PCC are the only constituency with uninterrupted growth in terms of UNPOL deployment since 2003. With a growing role of AU peace support operations, and no end in sight for the trend of ever more PKO on the African continent, this poses a prime challenge to the UN system, requiring consolidated efforts of All. The support to policing in PSO, through assistance to the AU headquarters, and to AU missions on the ground, but also the interrelationship between AU and UN missions will increase, and needs to: UN and AU draw policing capacities from the same Police Contributing Countries PCC in Africa, who are limited in their capacities and capabilities, whilst there is no alternative to policing contribution within peace operations on either side.
Opposed to UN figures as used earlier, the accuracy of data provided publicly by other organizations and especially in relation to bilateral and multilateral coalition engagement is much less, partly not in existence at all. The relevance of the development of own crisis management capacities of the EU and the AU will become clear in other chapters as well, but already at this point the diversity of engagement, different policies, different training and equipment approaches, and the constraints stemming from the fact that all three organizations and bi- and multilateral operations request contributions from domestic police organizations all around the World, becomes clear. Beyond, the question of impact of engagement depends on cooperation, coordination, and use of synergies of a multiplicity of engaged actors. Significant difficulties here, and their impact on UN police in PKO, will be addressed later. Taking the average duration of post-crisis assistance into account, and the risks stemming from relapse into conflict in case of less successful assistance, pressing needs to engage better with costly resources meant for domestic purposes become very clear. This requires adequate capacity and capabilities in Headquarters, and in Missions.
Looking back at this development, the diversity of engagement will continue, and, at least from a UN perspective, likely increase. This issue will come back when analyzing the development of UNPOL engagement in Special Political Missions of the UN Department of Political Affairs, and in relation to the Global Focal Point GFP, and is relevant for the cooperation with other actors contributing to contemporary challenges, such as the impact of violent extremism, terror, and transnational crime, and corruption.
A harmonization of policy, strategy, and operational engagement of policing in peace operations is essential for long term impact on conflict situations. The UN Strategic Guidance Framework for international policing, it’s further development, and broad international acceptance, within and beyond the UN is key for this.
4 For detailed reading: Lt.Gen (ret.) Roméo Dallaire, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, Random House Canada, 2003, ISBN 978-0-679-31171-3
5 For detailed reading: Hasan Nuhanovic; Under The UN Flag: The International Community and the Srebrenica Genocide, DES 2007, ISBN: 978-9958-728-87-7
6 For detailed reading on the “Responsibility to Protect”: Gareth Evans; The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and for All, Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2008, ISBN-13: 978-0815703341
7 For example: Decisions undertaken by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) after the breaking out of a civil war, Dec 15, 2013, or discussions leading to the establishment of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), as a consequence of a resumption of violence by the mainly Muslim Séléka and the subsequent taking up arms by the mainly Christian anti-Balaka. Likewise, the inability of the Security Council to come to resolutions on cases such as the current one in Syria can be directly connected to a fundamental political dispute between Member States of the United Nations on whether a Responsibility to Protect (R2P) supersedes a principle of international law, territorial or Westphalian sovereignty.
8 Bruce Oswald, Helen Durham, Adrian Bates, Documents on the Law of UN Peace Operations, Oxford University Press New York, 2010, ISBN 978-0-19-957126-0, pg 3
20 Data publicly available on the UN Website. The author compiled all data for the purpose of this visualization. The data reflects the real deployments, on a monthly registration basis. Small deployments are not visible, but included.
At times with rising and ever more complicated conflicts threatening global peace and security, we look for renewed commitment to United Nations peace operations, and we collectively search for new approaches. This series of articles will focus on United Nations policing within peace operations. It will take stock of long-term development, outline more recent achievements, and argue that a fresh look needs to be undertaken, allowing policing to punch it’s weight: UN policing plays an important role within the United Nation’s efforts preventing conflicts, engaging in conflicts, and the Organizations efforts to promote sustainable peace and security through peace building: To protect civilians and to assist in building domestic capacity in the field of security and the rule of law are two interrelated core functions of UN peace operations. Policing needs to be strengthened in both, and beyond, in conflict prevention and peace building.
June 16, 2015, a High-Level Independent Panel on United Nations Peace Operations, commissioned by the United Nations Secretary General, presented it’s findings1. The report is now commonly referred to as the HIPPO-Report. About two weeks later, June 29, 2015, an Advisory Group of Experts presented their review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture: “The Challenge of Sustaining Peace2”. This report has become known as the AGE-Report.
On 2nd of September, UN Secretary General (UNSG) Ban Ki-moon presented3 the HIPPO-Report to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and the UN Security Council (UNSC). In Paragraph 2, Ban Ki-moon writes:
“To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. The opening words of the Charter capture the purpose of the UN. Seventy years later, that objective has never appeared as urgent or as challenging. Since 2008 the number of major violent conflicts has almost tripled. Long-simmering disputes have escalated or relapsed into wars, while new conflicts have emerged in countries and regions once considered stable. Labels assigned to conflict – internal, inter-state, regional, ethnic or sectarian – have become increasingly irrelevant, as transnational forces of violent extremism and organized crime build on and abet local rivalries. Environmental degradation and resource deprivation are not contained by borders. Exclusion at home is driving tension abroad. People displaced by war approach 60 million and global humanitarian needs for 2015 are close to $20 billion.”
Fifteen years earlier, a Panel on United Nations Peace Operations issued the “Brahimi-Report4”. The HIPPO-Report can be seen as the first comprehensive follow-up. In it’s introductory parts, the HIPPO-Report notes that “United Nations peace operations are a unique instrument for advancing international peace and security.” Peacekeeping Operations have a history that began in 1948. Seventy years later, they have evolved in type and complexity. Peace operations include peacekeeping operations, special political missions, good offices, and mediation services. The HIPPO-Report notes the current deployment of more than 128,000 civilian and uniformed personnel in 39 missions across four continents. Looking back at the Brahimi-Report, the HIPPO-Report acknowledges the significant strengthening efforts and efforts to ensure that peace operations adapt to new roles.
As Ban Ki-moon notes, “violent crises are drawing unprecedented levels of international engagement”, leading to the engagement of the UN in peace operations, but also crisis management operations undertaken by the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU). Proliferation of conflict is outpacing our efforts, millions of people continue to live in fear and misery, and failure to prevent or halt war is dominating public consciousness. The UN Secretary General goes on to say: “Too often, however, efforts have been fragmented and unequal to the task. The limits of our engagement are reflected in UN peace operations, the most visible face of the Organization. Over six decades they have shown a remarkable capacity to adjust to evolving situations and new demands, guided by well-established principles. But missions are struggling to cope with the spread and intensity of conflicts today, and lack of unity among Member States over their scope and application is thwarting their adaptation. Within peace operations, shameful actions of some individuals are tarnishing efforts of tens of thousands.”
Consequently, the UNSG calls on tackling these profound challenges. In doing so, he does not only assess the HIPPO-Report as being a solid foundation for this, but simultaneously points to the AGE-Report and more, including the Global Study on the implementation of Resolution 1325, which examines progress in placing women at the centre of the UN peace and security agenda5, with a High-Level Review in October 2015.
On initiative of the President of the United States of America, a Peacekeeping Summit of World Leaders took place on occasion of the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly. In his speech6 on September 28, 2015, Ban Ki-moon recalls that “the situations into which peacekeepers are deployed have never been more challenging, as tasks multiply and we face extremists, criminal groups and others who show no regard for international humanitarian or human rights law.” He recalls that more than 120 countries currently contribute over 125,000 troops, police and civilian personnel. Amongst five most pressing needs, the call for more qualified police personnel, including more female police officers, and Formed Police Units, as well as experts in the justice and corrections sectors, features prominently.
Likewise President Obama7: “…today, I’m issuing new presidential guidance — the first in more than 20 years — to expand our support for U.N. peace operations.” He points to the need to reform and modernize peace operations, making them fit for purpose in contemporary complex environments, appreciating the commitment of more than 50 countries to do more, including contributing troops and police. The White House Memorandum on United States support for United Nations peace operations8 itself is even more specific and detailed in the U.S. Administrations’ support for policing in UN peace operations, and it stands as an example for an increased commitment that was subsequently demonstrated in speeches by Heads of States, or their representatives, over more than four hours of pledging.
To date9, PCC contribute 13.940 police officers to United Nations Police (UNPOL). Broadly speaking, 4.653 officers are deployed as Individual Police Officers, and 9.287 officers are deployed into Formed Police Units. Taking stock on the police side, the 2nd Peacekeeping Summit led to significant new pledges of UN Member States. Finally, all the above is accompanied by a wider and complex set of efforts of the United Nations to modernize peace operations.
Quo vadis, United Nations policing? The extrapolation of the future can never be attempted without a thorough look into the development itself, in this case the development of policing in UN peace operations. A look back will map the history, and will become more detailed for the past decade, or possibly fifteen years. Whilst the focus is on UN policing, within UN peace operations, the narrative for the beginning 21st century has, to some extent, to look at aspects of coherence and cooperation, within the larger UN system, and in relation to other international, regional, and bi- or multilateral actors. Without, the current challenges can hardly be understood.
“The worst times in European history were in the fourteenth century, during and after the Hundred Years War, in the seventeenth century at the time of the Thirty Years War, and in the first half of the twentieth century. The twenty-first century may be worse than any of these.”
Robert Cooper, The Breaking of Nations, 2003, Atlantic Books, pg. vii
“To understand the present we must first understand the past.”
Ibid, pg. 7
Over the past months, I have found my way back into writing. It has been an arduous process, and so many reasons were contributing to that it took so long. What appears to be the result of a brilliant or less brilliant idea, put into words then, in reality it is the product of many months where the subconscious parts of the mind wrestled with it. And then, all of a sudden, it comes up in to the clear of the conscious. That’s one part of the story.
Another one is that the theme of the articles I am going to publish into the testing ground of my blog could not be written earlier. In my line of professional work, 2015 has been a year with most important events which set the stage for this writing. The first article will highlight some of the strategic events.
Next is the reasons that 2015 saw an almost incredible amount of things happening which the world is struggling with. In my view, like for many others, it is changing the global fabric of what we are challenged with, for many reasons.
So there were operational challenges. And there was more reading blogs than writing. Witnessing how the world wrote about some events, including terror attacks, and forgot about others, like the areas in which my colleagues and I work. I watched the migration crisis, in amazement. And I watched the many visible aspects of xenophobia, and reverberating patterns, like ping-pong-balls, of radicalization of language, and cruel action. Look, in retrospective, on what I wrote about Charlie Hebdo. We now have many of these, many more, and many more worrying patterns of that the world becomes resentful, that simplifying and manipulative language drives the discussions, rather than educated and informed talking and writing, rather than compassionate thinking, breaking up the fiefdoms of egotism.
We need voices of compassion, empathy, rational understanding, able to contribute to the appropriate dealing with very complex development. The great simplifiers, we have too many of them, all over this world. It is their hour, they yell their manipulations from the rooftops. As long as the voices of reason stay silent, they find easy prey.
So, in order to write, another reason was that I needed to research, and to think. Sometimes, every sentence took me a day. And many days in order to rewrite that sentence, until I was satisfied. Behind some articles there is intense number crunching. And nothing is referring to data which would not be public. In everything I am writing I am referring to data and information that you can look up on the Internet, or books that you can buy.
I got the hang of it again, so now my writing, as a process, is much easier than it has been, say, summer 2015. And many other things happened that summer, of which none is to be shared here.
Alright then, if you like what I will post, enjoy!
This post was published 04 February 2015 in the Huffington Post. It is a variation of what I said 23 December 2014, on this blog, carrying the title “Conflict, organised crime, extremism and terror, and corruption“. The difference is that the Huffington Post carries the views in my current capacity, endorsed by my Department, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations of the United Nations.