On Aspects of Security, Crime, and Crime Control

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

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

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

 

So, again, here you go:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A comprehensive case study identifies several different challenges for UNPOL:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prognosis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

____________________

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

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

3 Ibid; Para. 14

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

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

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

6 Ibid,

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

Last access January 18, 2016

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

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

Special Political Missions and the Inclusion of International Policing

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

Here you go.

General aspects of conflict and mandates for SPM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPM and UNPOL

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

Current status

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

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

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

UNPOL deployment into SPM in some more conceptual detail

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

BINUCA

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

MENUB

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

UNAMA

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

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

UNAMI

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

UNIOGBIS

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

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

UNSMIL

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

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

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

 UNSOM

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

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

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

Conclusions on SPM, and UNPOL

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

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1 HIPPO Report, executive summary, pg viii

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

3 Capstone Doctrine, pg. 19

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

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

Last access January 18, 2016

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

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

Access January 17, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Us, and Them

What does your brain need to function normally? Beyond the nutrients from the food you eat, beyond the oxygen you breathe, beyond the water you drink, there’s something else, something equally as important: it needs other people. Normal brain function depends on the social web around us. Our neurons require other people’s neurons to thrive and survive.

David Eagleman, The Brain; Chapter introduction to Chapter 5: Do I Need You?; 2015; New York

Unnoticed by many, neuroscience, the science of the brain, has made progress over the past ten to twenty years which one can perhaps only describe with moving from the medieval ages to enlightenment with lightning speed. We research on the brain since hundreds of years, may be even much more, if all early attempts to understand it are included. We do apply modern methods of science since a century, or more. But it is the cutting edge result of research of the past fifteen years which makes us say that we are entering a new phase of understanding who we are; who we are not; what is constituting our conscious self awareness; and how this is embedded into a much larger context of the subconscious which we mostly are not aware of. But even more, modern neuroscience begins to help us understanding to which extent we need the interrelationship between us and others, and what it means for the “self”, and what it does to us. The borderline between the self and the outer world becomes more and more porous. We are all more interconnected with the entire world than the concept of an independent self makes us want to believe.

David Eagleman’s book is based on a PBS series “The Brain”. These six episodes are the most awesome piece of popular science made public I have come across in many years. It should be viewed in schools and universities, and everybody can, you can get it in the iTunes Store, for example.

In Chapter 5, findings of neuroscience are demonstrated that connect to my personal understanding of the effects of trauma, how it affects me, and people like me. Chapter 5 also includes important clues to understanding societal interactions of many people that lead to violence, destruction, xenophobia, and genocide. As Eagleman says, brains have traditionally been studied in isolation, but that approach overlooks the effect that an enormous amount of brain circuitry has to do with other brains. Our brains are primed for social interaction, from a moment on we appear to not have memories of, from the moment we are given birth. Babies at the age of one year have a complex capacity to differentiate between trustworthy action and the opposite, before even understanding language.

The self does not exist in isolation to others. We know that, we would agree to it, and perhaps the extent to which this is true can be seen when looking at persons who suffer from having less ability to empathize, such as persons suffering from autism, or from sociopathy. Both are deficiencies in complex interaction of subsystems of the brain circuitry. By no means they are moral or behavioral deficiencies, emerging understanding goes deep into the knowledge of the brain being interconnected with other brains.

The understanding of how individuals relate to Ingroups and Outgroups, to groups to which we belong, and to groups we feel we do not belong, it all is affected by how the trillions of synapses of a brain relate to other sets of trillions of synapses, and billions of those. It is kind of a challenge to accept that interdependency with others is not something that we decide, but that is built into our fabric on most fundamental levels. To those who are challenged by the thought that we depend on entities outside of ourselves on a deep level, here is another thought: The average adult human being is carrying several pounds of living matter that appear to not belong to the body itself, with entirely different DNA, living in co-existence, sometimes parasitic, sometimes in symbiosis: Bacteria. But it goes beyond: Take these bacteria away from your body, and you will die in a very short while. You can simply not exist without of these billions and billions of other living beings inside yourself.

The same goes with empathy. Empathy is a fundamental mechanism of the brain, and it is activating the same brain circuitry that is activated when you feel pain. Especially when you are being left out: If people do not cooperate with you, but leave you out, fMRI scans show that the parts of your pain fire up which also light up when you feel physical pain.

So, belonging to a group makes us feel good. Meaning that the question arises how we relate to people which we wold categorize as not being part of the groups we feel good with.

It is here where Eagleman’s book is becoming so fascinating read for me: He is referring to the genocide in Rwanda, the genocide in Srebrenica, and also making it clear that so many more of these situations exist, like the killing of millions of Armenians by Turks in 1915, or the Nazi Holocaust, and much more. All of a sudden, when reading his book, I am back in Sarajevo: Eagleman interviews Hasan Nuhanovic, who worked as a translator in the United Nation’s mission UNPROFOR on the compound where his family was seeking refuge. He survived, and he lost his family, when the UN commander decided to open the gates, exposing 8.000 Bosniak Muslims to the hellhounds of Ratko Mladic’s genocidaires. I know Hasan personally, I employed him in the European  Union Police Mission, we revered him, and we made it a regular habit to have him educating the International Community about the consequences of the genocide in Srebrenica.

Eagleman tries to understand what transforms neighbors into killers. Individuals who have been in more or less peaceful coexistence for a lifetime, and their ancestors since hundreds of years, they seem to be able to mutate into monstrous torturers and killers within a brief moment.

I would not conclude, from what I understand, that the reasons for this are entirely understood. But neuroscience offers clues: Empathy works with Ingroups. The brain shows visibly less activity in circuitry related to empathy when considering somebody to be part of an Outgroup. As he says, these areas of the brain become short-circuited, they do not longer participate in decision making. Empathy disengages. We don’t care any more. To me, this is the entry point into dehumanization.

Read, or watch, his experiment: Brain scan people who see pictures of hands being stabbed by a needle, and how the brain reacts in case you tell the person that this hand belongs to somebody in a group you identify with, or not. The same picture can create either a firestorm in the brain, let me say, in case you are a Democrat and you are being told that this person is a Democrat, or a Republican. Or, a German, and a migrant from North Africa. Or a Christian, and a Muslim. Depending on which side you belong to, your brain reacts different to the same picture, depending on how you label the picture: For example, the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) of the brain is engaging differently in case we are thinking of other people, or inanimate objects: People looking at pictures of homeless people show much less activity in the mPFC compared to pictures of people they relate to. Dehumanization, made visible on a brain scanner.

Now, I am leaving the narrative of Eagleman’s book of my beautiful city Sarajevo to the reader. But I do ask how this translates into contemporary empathy with people suffering in conflict areas, and when they arrive, millions of them, having successfully escaped, at the borders of, say, European Union States.

Think about it: Your reaction to a picture of a child found on a shore, drowned because the boat overloaded with refugees capsized, it creates viral replication in social media, storms of empathy flare up, because you can identify: A child is a child. But if you see troves of people waiting at some European countries border, your reaction might be different, though the only real difference is that these people did not drown, they made it. Empathy makes all the difference in your reaction.

I want to leave it there for today. My thoughts go deeper, naturally I am trying to find an entry point into the xenophobic elements of a discussion that also has justified elements, such as respect of migrants for societal values in those countries welcoming migrants escaping from horrible violence, and the way how the social networks in these societies appear to explode with fear, and hate.

Education is the key. The great simplifiers, those who trumpet their rallying sounds for hate from the TV stations and the Internet, they need to be countered by an educated debate. Fair, tough with those who disrespect values, but also tolerant with those who may want to learn values they have never been exposed to before.

How can I blame somebody who, from the moment of being a baby on, has been either taught male supremacy, or female subordination? We all learn from copying what our parents and caregivers tell us.

But we can engage in discussions, learn, and help in learning.

Peacekeeping and United Nations Police

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.

Chapter conclusions:

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.

__________

1 See, for example, http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/operations/history.shtml

Last access Dec 10, 2015

2 United Nations, list of peacekeeping operations,

Click to access operationslist.pdf

Last access Dec 08, 2015

3 Peacekeeping Operations – The Early Years; http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/operations/early.shtml;

Last access Dec 07, 2015

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

9 http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/past/minurcat/background.shtml

10 http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/unisfa/mandate.shtml

11 Fifteen between 1990 and 1999, seven between 2000 and 2009, and six since 2010 until today.

12 Nine PKO between 1990 and 1999

13 Six new PKO

14 67, 42 and 38 years of duration

15 UNFICYP in Cyprus: 52 years; UNMIK in Kosovo: 17 years.

16 UNMOGIP in India and Pakistan

17 MINUSTAH in Haiti, twelve years

18 Scattered data can be found under http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/resources/statistics/contributors_archive.shtml. Figures are documented from the end of 1990 on.

19 1.500 police officers

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.

21 For example: http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/operations/history.shtml

22 See, for example, http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/operations/history.shtml

Last access Dec 10, 2015

23 http://www.europarl.europa.eu/summits/kol2_en.htm, and more specifically http://www.europarl.europa.eu/summits/kol2_en.htm#an3

24 For an actual overview about all peace operations, including UN, EU, and AU, the Center for International Peace Operations (ZIF) offers a highly visualized overview on a World map: http://www.zif-berlin.org/fileadmin/uploads/analyse/dokumente/veroeffentlichungen/ZIF_World_Map_Peace_Operations.pdf

25 Download link: http://www.zif-berlin.org/fileadmin/uploads/analyse/dokumente/veroeffentlichungen/ZIF_World_Map_Peace_Operations.pdf

Setting the Stage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

anImage_9.tiff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9 Figures represent the deployment as of November 2015

Raw Feelings

When I woke up this morning, this page  2015-02-01 06.18.54 of the New York Times’ weekend edition lay around openly. It carries the highly pixelated shape of a person in an orange jumpsuit, hands tied behind his back, on his knees.

It brought back immediately my memories of a specific moment yesterday. When the news exploded into the world that this black clothed butcher with the deep British accent, the executor of IS, had decapitated Kenji Goto, the Japanese journalist who had been captured earlier, I looked up the video that had been put on the web by IS. Here is a link to the news and facts from yesterday.

On the other hand, the open page of the NYT that I found this morning, it is about a book review: “Guantanamo Diary“, by Mohamedou Ould Slahi. Mark Danner reviews the book for NYT, starting with the following: “On or about Sept. 11, 2001, American character changed. What Americans had proudly flaunted as “our highest values” were now judged to be luxuries that in a new time of peril for the country could ill afford.”
The text continues, making reference also to former Vice President Dick Cheney, when asked recently about an innocent man been tortured to death in an American “black site”, did not hesitate. “I’m more concerned,” he said, “with bad guys who got out and released than I am with a few that, in fact, were innocent.”

I wrote about torture, cruelty, and why I believe that certain acts of utmost inhumanity need to be banished for all accounts and purposes, not leaving any ground for legal or ethical justification, earlier.

But here is the thing:

I would certainly claim that I am hardened by uncounted situations, and pictures and movies thereof, what human cruelty can do to others. Yet, none of those experiences leaves me cool, unaffected. Yesterday, I decided to look up the propaganda video of IS before it would be removed from the most accessible sites again. I wanted to understand more about what is referred to as a highly professional propaganda machinery. IS is acting through intense use of media, far away from amateurish make, brushed up with professional effects, using an identifiable style guide. So I assumed that this is not just a simple broadcasting of cruelty, but that it carries deliberate messages, likely tailored for different target groups.

Well, I am certainly having difficulties to understand those in the target group of potential supporters for whatever the cause of these devils are, I can’t really relate to the mindset of somebody who might be tempted to become what we name a “Foreign Terrorist Fighter” in the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2178 (2014).

But I do understand the feelings of those who are target of the antagonization which sits at the heart of this media strategy. I refuse to give these criminals the legitimacy they aspire, what they want to be seen as, like fighting for a caliphate with authority, brutally enforced legitimacy, and territory. I continue to name them torturers, heinous murderers, or, let me just be a little politically incorrect, heartless beings with no soul.

Felling better, having said that.

However, I also refuse to name them “animals”. That is a trick which is frequently used by those who want to establish legitimacy for their own unethical and horrible action. The Nazis created the word “Untermensch”, shamefully staining the German history. Many others did, and continue to do, exactly the same. By depriving somebody from being considered a human being, genocidaires and mass murderers can justify action that otherwise would be morally or ethically questionable, and it makes it easier for the killers who they need, to kill for them.

No, this butcher may be whatever curse I can find for him (feeling better thereafter), but he remains a human being. As such, my rules of the game apply for what I stand for: Humanity.

However:

When I saw the video yesterday, I was immediately overwhelmed by a complex mixture of feelings including rage, despair, deepest sadness, shock. I cried and needed to compose myself immediately again, because some children were in the other room.

From then on, I literally obsessed for hours, when ever I had a minute, about what I would do if I would get my hands on this black clad coward butcher. Yes, coward, because he is hiding his ugly face. I do not. I had all sorts of day dreams about how to torture this man, in detail.

It took me a hard time to recover into my spirituality, into not only understanding on an intellectual level that this is EXACTLY what they want us to feel, but also to admit on my spiritual level that any such retaliation would be wrong for all intents and purposes.

We only have one chance to demonstrate our values: By adhering to them. So I am talking about my values here.

I remember my father. I was young, and he would refer to Jesus’ sentence saying that if one gets slapped on one cheek, one should offer the other cheek to the offender, too. My father often said that he would have difficulties with that. Instead, he considered some situations justifying the principle “An Eye for an Eye”.

I have two answers, one with my heart, one with my brain:

My heart tells me that I would give up my soul, and my spirituality, if I would give in into ripping that butcher’s nails off his fingers and toes, one by one. Well, it gives me some relief thinking about it, though, frankly. But that’s about it, that’s about as far as I can go, and it already makes me praying for that this resentment is taken away from me with the help of my Higher Power.

Secondly, my brain tells me that this is exactly what these groups want us to feel: They thrive from this. Because, amongst other reasons, think about what they did, too: They requested 100 Million USD ransom money.

They are not only a bunch of terrorists. They belong to an organized crime organization, they capture people in order to make money in order to exercise power. They are true sociopaths, like every organized crime group is, because they give an ethical and moral damn about how to generate money, how to establish power. If they can make more money by legal means, they will just do that. If they can make more money by chopping heads off, well, they will just do that.

That is who they are. In their cold and well crafted strategy, they aim at taking our values away from us, by making us doing what they do.

They are sociopathic criminals. They don’t feel anything like empathy. So, we treat them as such. We apply the rule of law to them. Because that is what is protecting our values, and our humanity.

Never. Never again.

“Thank You” – Instead of “Yes, we succeeded!”

When I read the first breaking news on BBC on that “the case of a Saudi blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes has been referred to the Supreme Court by the king’s office”, I shared it with my little group of personal friends on FaceBook immediately, and just adding the word “Thanks!!!” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-30856403).

Referring to my previous blog entry “Je suis Charlie – Je suis Raef” I then thought about the issue a little more in depth.

Since the horrible attack and murders which began in Paris in the offices of the magazine “Charlie Hebdo” January 7, the world saw outrage and intense discussion. Millions gathered in Paris and elsewhere, demonstrating under the logo “Je suis Charlie”. Public discussion saw a wide range of positions, across various communities, including communities of faith. I find it noteworthy that important moderate voices came from everywhere, including, sometimes, from where I would not have expected it. Here is an example: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/6443530.

Friday, January 09, the Saudi blogger Raef Badawi received the first 50 lashes from a sentence of 1,000 lashes. The public outrage was immense. I referred to some in my recent blog entry, and I wrote “Je suis Charlie – Je suis Raef”.

January 14, the media began to report about a new cover illustration of Prophet Muhammad in the latest edition of Charlie Hebdo (http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/01/15/world/middleeast/new-charlie-hebdo-muhammad-cartoon-stirs-muslim-anger-in-mideast.html?_r=0&referrer=).

Again, there was a wide spectrum of opinions flooding the blogs. Again, I also want to note that there were serious concerns offered in moderation, across the whole spectrum of communities. The above link serves as an example.

What I want to draw attention on here is the fact that, in my personal view, the decision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia carries remarkable signals, and I would hope that this is supporting a dialogue which I find extremely important. The world faces a lot of antagonisation right now. This escalation of antagonised, often radicalised, and very often very emotional expressions of outrage supports that views become polar. Polar views support a selective perception which makes us looking for more of the bad news, as we seek support for the position that each of us holds.

Meaning: Dialogue becomes more difficult.

So, here is my take on the news on Raef Badawi: I hope this goes widely noticed. I hope it’s not used in a triumphant manner. I hope it’s used as an example for that listening to each other really works.

And that is what we need more than anything else, right now. So, trusting that this decision is based on including the understanding that dialogue and willingness to understand are so important, I say “Thank you!”. The world never is black and white only, what ever some would want to suggest.

Je suis Charlie – Je suis Raef

May 15, 2014, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued the following statement (http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47797#.VLT9xkY8KJI ) on Raef Bandawi, a Saudi Arabian blogger who was sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a 1 million Saudi riyal fine:

“This outrageous conviction should be overturned and Mr. Badawi immediately released,” said the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion, Heiner Bielefeldt; the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank La Rue; the Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez; and the Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Mads Andenas.”

But it is happening.

It started last Friday. Here is what, like many, The Times of India reports (http://m.timesofindia.com/world/middle-east/Saudi-blogger-lashed-in-public-for-insulting-Islam/articleshow/45824671.cms ):
“JEDDAH: Saudi blogger Raef Badawi was flogged in public Friday near a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, receiving 50 lashes for “insulting Islam”, witnesses said. In September, a Saudi court upheld a sentence of 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for Badawi, and he is expected to have 20 weekly whipping sessions until his punishment is complete. The United States, Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders have denounced the flogging as a horrific form of punishment, and said Badawi was exercising his right to freedom of expression.”

This is why it is so incredibly important to continue with a public discussion on torture, following the release of the U.S. Senate’s report on coercive interrogation methods by the CIA amounting to torture: Cruelty is a family member of Torture, and I identified Sadism and Rape as other brothers and sisters in it, in earlier statements on this blog. The legitimacy of condemnation of such methods applied by others critically depends on how one deals with own behavior, and history. Once we allow ourselves to do whatever we want, disrespecting international Conventions, we mute ourselves when we are being confronted with outrageous action of others.

So, here is the US Department of State’s public statement ( http://m.state.gov/md235704.htm ) as of one week ago:

“Press Statement
Jen Psaki
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
January 8, 2015

We are greatly concerned by reports that human rights activist Raif Badawi will start facing the inhumane punishment of a 1,000 lashes, in addition to serving a 10-year sentence in prison for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and religion. The United States Government calls on Saudi authorities to cancel this brutal punishment and to review Badawi’s case and sentence. The United States strongly opposes laws, including apostasy laws, that restrict the exercise of these freedoms, and urges all countries to uphold these rights in practice.”

Yet, despite this and others joining in, it is happening. Raif Badawi received the first 50 lashes last Friday. Watch the crowd gathering, the video stops there, (thank you!): http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ISRaSduJNOI

It will continue if hearts remain merciless. Every Friday he will be taken out of prison, displayed in public, receiving 50 more lashes. The American PEN organization decries it ( http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/saudi-arabia-editor-raef-badawi-sentenced-to-1000-lashes-and-10-years-in-prison-plus-10-year-media-participation-ban/ ). It will bring his body to his limits, every Friday for the next twenty weeks. He may die.

And you know what?: On occasion of millions joining into last week’s demonstrations against the killing of fifteen journalists of Charlie Hebdo, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia joined the row of dignitaries, excellencies, and ordinary people, expressing their sadness and outrage. Exercising their right to be free expressing their opinions, journalists had been brutally killed by extremists who felt this is an insult of Islam. ( http://www.jewishjournal.com/hella_tel_aviv/item/the_10_biggest_hypocrites_marching_in_paris ).

So what is this about? Is it that you can say what ever you want as long as it is not against us?

I join the statement by the European Union ( http://eeas.europa.eu/statements-eeas/2014/150109_03_en.htm ).

Je suis Charlie. Je suis Raif. Et j’adore Senator Feinstein.

More links below.

http://m.ndtv.com/article/world/saudi-blogger-gets-first-installment-of-1000-lashes-for-insulting-islam-646541

To me, the most heartening one: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/6125244

Never Again – Never Forget

This is the fourth installment on coercion, and torture. What I want to address here is a broader context, including atrocities that haunt us, seemingly without end. History is full of shameful chapters where we did it again, and again, and again.

I ended my third entry with the question “How to argue that there are forms of coercion that need to be banned in their entirety?”. This is where I begin to take it up today.

In my line of work, the phrase “Never Again” is meaning a lot, used quite often, triggering many memories. Some of those memories relate to direct experiences with atrocities that I have witnessed. Some of them relate to atrocities that have set the stage for my desire to contribute to peace operations. Some of these do deeply affect the corporate conscience of the United Nations, in places where we failed to prevent atrocities, such as in Rwanda, and in Bosnia&Herzegovina. The earliest memories of wishing that it shall never happen again relate to the history of my country, Germany, before I was born. The history of my country, and how I was told, and learned about it, has formed main parts of my conscience.

In an earlier blog post, I referred to an Op Ed in the New York Times, Dec. 9, 2014, by Eric Fair: “I Can’t Be Forgiven for Abu Ghraib⁠1”. Eric Fair, an Army veteran, was a contract interrogator in Iraq in 2004. In 2014, he was a Professor for creative writing at Lehigh University. Parts of his Op Ed deal with his revealing to his students what he did, in Iraq. He tortured. His Op Ed for sure is stirring up a lot of emotions, and I can only imagine that many of them will be very controversial, especially by those who have suffered from torture trauma, either being victims, or perpetrators (they too become victims, later on, may be even those with strong sociopathic traits⁠2). Eric Fair ends the Op Ed with the following sentences: “In some future college classroom, a professor will require her students to read about the things this country did in the early years of the 21st century. She’ll assign portions of the Senate torture report. There will be blank stares and apathetic yawns. There will be essays and writing assignments. The students will come to know that this country isn’t always something to be proud of.”

Not even scratching the surface of the never ending row of atrocities in mankind’s history, how does “Never Again” work if we seem to constantly forget, and/or seem not to be able to abstain, even given the overwhelming testimony of what we are able to do to our brothers and sisters if we allow ourselves running unleashed?

What possible comfort can be drawn from a catch phrase that we so notoriously use, use it again, or may even use it for other situations whilst we stained our conscience ourselves?

Should we give that intent up?

For the record, I am not arguing this. I hear this sometimes, and in a more depressing mood this question can occur to me, too. Recently, I read an essay in “Harper’s Magazine⁠3”, titled “Against Human Rights”, by Eric A. Posner, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School. This essay is so upsetting that I may dissect it at a later opportunity. It serves as an example for the, in my view, most dangerous rationale that would suggest that, because standing up for Human Rights allegedly did not work (which is untrue), the concept itself might be outdated (which is devilish).

As a child, and as a young adult, I believed in the notion that thousands of years of civilization had a cumulative effect, that somehow this effect would lead to a thicker cultural skin, that atrocities were less likely to happen, taking into account some societal learning. I may be excused for that naivety. I was a growing up teenager in a country that had not experienced war ever during my lifetime, had not participated in one. Neither I was confronted with actual atrocities we were committing, none that we had to actually suffer from. That all was part of a past long gone. During the 1970’s my political conscience began to grow. As a people, we were acutely conscious of the atrocities of the Holocaust that we had committed a few decades ago. This led to generations of young German citizens who had no direct experience with war, with killing, with torture, sadism, genocide.

The generations to which I relate, we grew up with a lot of guilt, and shame, for what our forefathers did. This type of German conscience was, and is, strong in saying “Never Again”. This is true until today, and it took me a very long time, and my direct exposition to the Hell that Mankind can create on Earth after I began to work in peace operations, to relate to why it is so incredibly important to uphold the call for “Never Again”. I can only speak for my generations, and I can only explain the context from what I experienced, and continue to experience, in some of the most brutal conflicts of today’s World. Whether there is a different conscience in younger people in Germany, very much along the lines of Eric Fair’s question at the end of his Op-Ed, I don’t exactly know.

However, this is precisely what Eric Fair is referring to: How can one ensure a remaining understanding, being part of a societal and individual conscience, that certain acts are acts of Hell on Earth, and that there simply shall not be any tolerance for them, justification of them, or committing them?

April 07, 2004 I attended a town hall meeting of the United Nations in Pristina, Kosovo. On this day, the United Nations commemorates the genocide that happened 1994 in Rwanda. Throughout approximately 100 days, Hutu extremists killed an estimated 500,000 to one million Tutsi and moderate Hutu.⁠4, as a consequence of a brutal, systematic, well organized genocide. For comprehensive reading, I recommend Lt. Gen. Romeo Daillaire, “Shake Hands With The Devil⁠5”.

This April 07 in 2004 was a very special day for me: I was the Police Commissioner in charge of 4.500 international police officers and 6.500 Kosovo Police Service officers, within the United Nations Interim Mission in Kosovo. A little more than two weeks earlier, we had fought off three days of massive violence in Kosovo. There had been civil unrest on which some ring leaders had hooked up, deciding that it was now the time to drive the Serb minority population out of Kosovo. It was an attempted ethnic cleansing happening under the eyes of the United Nations and NATO. Together with our military NATO colleagues, my police officers and I engaged in fighting this off. Long story short, I claim that we succeeded. However, at the end of these three days we mourned killed and injured civilians, injured police officers and soldiers, a large new number of internally displaced persons, and the demolition of cultural Serb Orthodox heritage and uncounted Kosovo-Serb houses.

We were tired, shocked, recovering, regrouping. Within this deeply emotional phase, on April 07 we watched documentary about the Rwanda genocide. After watching this movie, the Principal Deputy of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, my friend Charles Brayshaw, was supposed to address us, assembled commemorating this genocide. He began with stating “Never Again”. As he wanted to continue his speech, his voice broke, tears were all over his face. He stopped, just with these two words. Because this is what we had lived up for during these three nightmare days. We had prevented it.

Yesterday, I walked the streets of Manhattan, on my way to a bookstore. It was cold, dark, a mixture of slush and rain was attempting to penetrate my coat. I thought about that I am growing 57 this month. I asked myself: “What is it that I want to see staying beyond? What will be the result of my contribution, when I die?”

All of a sudden I saw it: It’s not an accumulation of more. It’s about keeping the flame lit, to be a part of those who carry it.

There may be a future in which we will be able to fully commit to “Never Again”. But whether that is so, and when, we don’t know yet. However, one thing is clear: Until it will never happen again, it is about “Never Forget”.

That is why Eric Posner is wrong: The effects of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights may be disappointing, or not. I humbly disagree, but even more, abandoning them creates Hell on Earth. If we deprive people from inalienable human rights just because they have done this to us, we do not only enter into the “An Eye for an Eye” age again.

Rather, we allow the Doors of Armageddon to open.

1 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/10/opinion/the-torture-report-reminds-us-of-what-america-was.html?nytmobile=0&_r=0

2 As one of the most vivid examples for that even individuals with obviously strong sociopaths traits can be overwhelmed by a “gollum-like” recognition of what they have become, once their denial is broken up, watch the amazing documentary “The Act of Killing”. But beware, this goes under your skin! From the synopsis on the website http://theactofkilling.com: “…When the government of Indonesia was overthrown by the military in 1965, Anwar and his friends were promoted from small-time gangsters … to death squad leaders. They helped the army kill more than one million alleged communists, ethnic Chinese, and intellectuals in less than a year. As the executioner for the most notorious death squad in his city, Anwar himself killed hundreds of people with his own hands.

Today, Anwar is revered as a founding father of a right-wing paramilitary organization that grew out of the death squads. The organization is so powerful that its leaders include government ministers, and they are happy to boast about everything from corruption and election rigging to acts of genocide.

…Unlike ageing Nazis or Rwandan génocidaires, Anwar and his friends have not been forced by history to admit they participated in crimes against humanity. Instead, they have written their own triumphant history, becoming role models for millions of young paramilitaries. The Act of Killing is a journey into the memories and imaginations of the perpetrators, offering insight into the minds of mass killers. And The Act of Killing is a nightmarish vision of a frighteningly banal culture of impunity in which killers can joke about crimes against humanity on television chat shows, and celebrate moral disaster with the ease and grace of a soft shoe dance number.

3 Harper’s Magazine, Vol. 329, No. 1973, October 2014; http://www.harpers.org; Harper’s Magazine Foundation, 666 Broadway, New York, USA

4 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Kagame

5 ISBN 0 09 947893 5

Legal and Ethical Aspects of Coercive Interrogation Methods, Including Torture

Come to think of how I want to continue with my second blog entry on this topic, it is no easy feat.

In my first blog entry (Dec 22, 2014, click on the category “Torture”) I began with my personal experience with what I decided to qualify as an act of torture: Two months into my police education and training, a trainee colleague of mine had to witness how a man in a holding cell was physically abused through repeated slapping into the face, because he decided not to reveal his identity after arrest. I wrote about how this was a defining experience for me. All of a sudden, too early, I found myself in a situation where I was presented with the unsettling and fearsome question of what I was supposed to do: Not accepting it, and how to act on this information? Risking my very young career? Becoming complicit, by not doing anything? As always, there is no easy answer for this when you have no power, when you are at the low end of the food chain, when decisive action may threaten you, when you are at the beginning of a process developing your values, and your skills.

I felt powerless, and I felt this was not directly affecting me (ultimately, it was up to my colleague to act, so, was I excused?). I realized that I had no immediate means available to me, means that would be proportionate and, at the same time, protect me. I kind of muddled through.

What happens very often though during early times of integration into a peer group is a form of rationalization which runs counter to official education at the Police Academy: Exposed to the reality, the value system of a rookie will be formed by what hard-nosed long standing (and sometimes questionable) police officers tell you. “Don’t listen to what they are teaching you at school, this is the reality” is what you are going to hear. This is a real challenge for formal education, and teaching values. Not only in the Police. It’s always the same. These processes erode integrity, and especially the fragile integrity of the young and vulnerable trainees. As a trainee, you want to get out of this situation quickly. I was sometimes watching my young colleagues in a state of mimicry, pretending they had an experience that they did not have. The result is a loss of depth of thinking, through massive reduction of the effects that learning has. Copying appears to be the easy learning. I guess I was the same, but I remember that I refused to give up ideals, and dreams.

I do see a link between remaining complacent, by staying silent, by saying: “I have no dogs in this fight.”, and growing gaps between laudable objectives of organizations, and the reality of how they behave.
I believe since long that there are fights in which everyone has to have dogs in.

This one, the fight against accepting torture under some inhumane justification which pretends that there is a higher good than fundamental human rights that everybody is entitled to, no matter what this individual has done, or is alleged to have done, this is one of those fights.

In my first blog entry I also introduced what is known as “coercive interrogation methods”: Not every act of coercive interrogation qualifies as torture, and even, depending on the applicable legislation of the State one is a member of, not every coercive interrogation method is illegal. I will explain, and I need to begin with the legally applicable framework of the State I grew up in: Germany.

Within the criminal procedural code of Germany, we know the legal concept of “prohibited interrogation methods”. In a nutshell, this means that not only I have to tell a person who is considered a suspect in a criminal investigation, at the beginning of a formal interrogation, which rights this person has. Here in the U.S., this is known as the “reading the Miranda Rights”. In any legal framework compliant to internationally accepted criminal procedural law respecting inalienable human rights, a suspect of a criminal investigation has the right not to cooperate, the right to remain silent, the right to not tell the truth. In the system I grew up in, the burden of proof sits with the State, represented by me, a police officer, acting on behalf of a public prosecutor. If a suspect is deciding not to cooperate, this shall not be held against her or him.

A suspect may lie, but I, as a police officer in my German system, I shall not act with the intent to actively establish a false belief. Though I am not obliged to correct an error the suspect is falling victim to, I am not allowed to actively create a false belief which then, in turn, makes the suspect revealing a fact that he or she would not have decided to reveal otherwise. Example 1: A suspect fears that other suspects may, or may have, confessed. As a police officer, I do not have an obligation to tell this individual what I know. I can keep this information for me (and observe the suspects’ painful deliberations about what I may know, or not). If he or she then decides to confess, believing that others may have done that as well, that is permitted. The information gained from this interview will be admissible in court proceedings. Example 2: I am telling a suspect that his or her partner in crime has confessed, though this is not true. If this suspect then confesses, he or she may later challenge the admissibility of this confession within court proceedings, as this information has been retrieved against the free will of this individual.

Within the German criminal procedural system, example 2 is an example for interrogation methods that are prohibited by law. Criminal procedural systems in other countries are different, at times somewhat less strict. Another example is the difference between an “Undercover Agent” and a so-called “Agent Provocateur”. Whilst I can infiltrate a criminal organization with the help of a fake identity, in Germany I can not actively provoke a criminal act (the meaning of “agent provocateur”). In that case, I may even be subject to a criminal investigation. As an undercover agent, I may witness a criminal act, which then may lead to arrests and my admissible testimony in a court proceeding, but under no circumstances I am allowed to incite a criminal act. Not every legal system prohibits the use of an agent provocateur, though.

The logic is clear: An active influence of the State, which is also the legislative authority having established the criminal code according to which certain acts are punishable by criminal law, is not permitted. The same authority which establishes the criminal code labeling a certain behavior as profoundly antisocial can not incite such behavior, on an assumption perhaps that this rotten individual would have done it anyway, with, or without a “little active help” (so, who cares whether he or she got a little push).

As I said, different legislations hold different views on this. But in all these cases, the essence lies with that a person has a free will to decide. For example, to decide to cooperate, or not, or to decide to commit a crime, or not.

Interim: This is one defining element that connects all “coercive interrogation methods” with torture, because torture is a subset, the worst one. I quote Article 1 of the UN Convention against Torture again: “… torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”

By logic, any coercive method obtaining information or a confession which does not lead to severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, intentionally inflicted, is not torture. It may be something else, including constituting a crime, but its not torture. Yelling at, and insulting an individual may be a form of verbal or even physical abuse, and I may commit a crime, but its not torture. Tricking a suspect into a confession by using a blunt lie may even be less than a crime (I might breach discipline, though). In my legal system in Germany all these methods are not permitted, whilst some are, in other systems. However, torture is not permitted in any system of a country that is a signatory to the UN Convention against Torture. Torture is the worst and most horrible form of coercion the world knows about.

A torture victim and a rape victim are subjected to exactly the same form of brutality, humiliation, and utter helplessness. Torture is a monstrous sibling within a larger family of zombies, one of his sisters is rape, one brother is sadism. The plight and pain they have inflicted on mankind includes unspeakable horror, until today. I will write about some of those darkest chapters in history of humankind, including the Holocaust, later, in another blog entry. I will argue why torture needs to be condemned, and banned, in its entirety. Because there is no such thing like a little torture, and much torture. Once an act is qualified as torture, it is. With no justification at all.

The question is: Who decides whether an act constitutes torture? In my system, it’s the courts who do. Once an act is qualified as torture, there simply is no justification for it. Because otherwise, also a little rape, and a little sadism, can be justified for whatever one defines as a higher good. The lessons of history explain why that shall not happen: Because it always led to that the monster was producing two types of victims: the tortured, and the torturers. Yes, them too. Read this.

What about coercive methods then which are below the threshold of torture, taking into account what I wrote above: That different systems are differently permissive when it comes to coercion? My ultimate yardstick is compliance with, and adherence to, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international humanitarian law, and international (criminal) law. Methods of coercion that meet these standards may be subject to deliberation within national legislation and I would not challenge them from a UN perspective, whatever personal opinion I may have on that matter. Personally, I am objecting against all of them.

In this second chapter, I wanted to touch both legal and ethical implications. The ethical ones really make the topic of torture a very tough nut. I experienced this myself:

Between 1987 and 1989 I received my senior education leading to my Masters Degree in Public Administration. For this, together with my fellow students, I studied at the German Police University, having been an accomplished police officer by then for many years already. The campus of this University was where scholarship, students, and practitioners would meet.
One day, a senior police commander presented to us the case of a recent high profile abduction case he had been in charge of, recently. A child had been abducted and the perpetrator/perpetrators had sent in information according to which the child was likely buried alive. The objective of the police, naturally, was to safe the live of the child, and, if possible, also to arrest the perpetrator(s). Nobody knew whether there were one, or several perpetrators.
The negotiation team of the police held contact, and a special police operation was preparing the handover of the requested ransom money. This was the only chance for the team to get into contact with at least one perpetrator. This person or group had been extremely professional, no other lead to this person, group, or whereabouts of the victim existed.
When it came to the prepared handover of the ransom money through a specialized police team, the police commander decided to arrest the suspect who showed up. Now the clock was ticking, and yet, there was no information about other suspects, and the whereabouts of the child were unknown.
This police commander told us in his presentation: “Given this situation, I ordered the suspect to be beaten up in order to reveal the location of the victim, if he would not cooperate”. The suspect, obviously, received physical abuse, the location was identified, the child was rescued unharmed.

Clearly, at this stage of my police education, I was very conscious that this was, by all accounts, borderline or prohibited, that no law existed permitting this action. I know this commander very well, he is in retirement now, a dedicated and deeply humane police leader. There was never a criminal investigation.

I realized that there are situations where law does not provide a safety net, where there is no legal way justifying action. This colleague of mine was presented with a situation where inaction led to the likely death of a small child, and no path was visible that would have made the arrested perp cooperating at his free will. A few years later, another case like this happened in a large city of Germany, almost an identical situation. The Police Commissioner who had made the decision to apply physical abuse to make a suspect cooperating, he got sentenced for a crime, and had to retire from his post.

I want to end this blog entry here and to take it up with another entry soon again, but not without disclosing my own decision, when I asked myself: “What would you have done if you would have been in that situation?”

I acknowledged that there are situations where the law does not provide a solution. I realized that still, the ethical values on which the law is based, continue to exist. Law can not solve the fundamental dilemma that it can not cover the entire reality, but only provide a guiding framework. If law attempts to do this, it will solve one dilemma by creating a new one. There are, as a matter of fact, areas where law leaves one without guidance. I decided that, in such a situation, the ethical values that form the foundation of that law, often enshrined in the constitutional law of a State, are still able to form a conduit. So my thinking then was that I will not order somebody else to commit an act that constitutes a crime. If I, for whatever reasons, am confronted with a situation where either action or inaction will cause the loss of life, or where the loss of a life competes with the respect of inalienable human rights, only Ethics can guide me. I will do it myself, not shying away from any consequence of this action. I would find it impossible to order somebody else to commit an act of crime, perhaps torture, on my orders. I would have to make a decision, and to take and to live with the consequences, either way.

I leave it here, I want to keep the controversial tension high. This was what I concluded during my formal senior training. This decision which I took at that time, 26 years ago, it formed my understanding for that there always always needs to be an ethical layer on which law, and personal action, is based. Without this, law is purely technical, cold, and subject to any manipulation one can think of.

As some ethical layers are so fundamental that they only exist in black and white, in “do” or “don’t”, law does not help in that situation. However, manipulation of law for any self-announced reason does not help, either. Instead, it takes away ethical legitimacy of the law.

Naturally, therefore, I end with quoting Dick Cheney, the former U.S. Vice President, in a recent interview: Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/14/dick-cheney-torture_n_6322872.html) is quoting him on Dec 14, 2014, from an interview that he gave to “Meet The Press” “I’m more concerned with bad guys who got out and released than I am with a few that, in fact, were innocent,” Cheney said.
About the program’s serious errors — and the abuses that CIA Director John Brennan described as “abhorrent” on Thursday — Cheney said, “I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective.”

That’s what I am talking about. Not having a problem as long as an objective is achieved. The dimensions of this sentence are broad, deep, and I fail to say more at this moment than how horrible such a statement is.

Why? Torture, systematic sexual violence as an instrument of conflict, sadism in treating adversaries and enemies, these acts continue to rip societies into pieces. They also communicate one message: “You are not worth being treated like you would have any rights. I strip everything from you, I take away your dignity. Because I can.” This is one of the most important issues of the most recent discussion about torture: As torturers have left the ground of humanity principles which we believe are universal, we have given reason to others to justify their atrocities using the same argument. We are co-responsible for the demons like Al Shabab, ISIS, or Boko Haram. Many have said this recently. I will come back to it.

But before that, I will try to finish my exploration of the relation between torture and civil criminal law.  After that, I will try to look into the Law of Armed Conflicts, and what it meant to strip detainees from the statute being “Prisoners of War”. We entered Hell on Earth, I believe.

We can go back, too, learn, and regret.