Thank you for convening this important briefing on the expanding role of policing in peacekeeping and post-conflict peacebuilding. Your presence here today aptly gives this meeting the merit it warrants. I also thank Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, and our Police Commissioners, Greg Hinds of UNMIL, Fred Yiga of UNMISS and Luis Miguel Carrilho of MINUSCA, for their informative presentations.
As the concept note prepared by the Australian presidency reminds us, the last twenty years have seen an unprecedented growth of police components in peacekeeping and special political missions. This is due to the changing nature of peacekeeping, which, for the past years, is increasingly facing situations where there is no peace to keep and where mass atrocities are committed. Therefore, the role of the Police has become more important and more complex, as it moved away from its traditional mission of observation to that of protection of civilians.
Police in peacekeeping missions is also called to provide operational policing support across the whole spectrum of policing duties; including protection of VIPs, security of key installations, escort duties, crowd control and humanitarian assistance. This is done in parallel to their crucial mandate of supporting host countries, both in conflict and post-conflict settings, in strengthening the rule of law, through rebuilding and reforming their policing and other law enforcement institutions. This has flowed from the recognition of the central role that host-State policing institutions can play in the restoration and maintenance of law and order, security and stability in post-conflict contexts, including in building trust between the government and population, with police officers often the main interface between the government and community on security issues.
As the seventh largest UN Police Contributing Country, Rwanda is well aware of these rapidly growing demands on the police component and this operational context has guided us in the ways we prepare our contingents. In recognition of the importance of the police component of peacekeeping operations, Rwanda supported resolution 2185 we just adopted, which outlines practical steps to improve the effectiveness of Police components in UN peacekeeping operations and special political missions, as the need for policing expands in peacekeeping and post-conflict peacebuilding environments.
We are very much aware of the importance of the Police contingent in peacekeeping operations; nonetheless, it is important that this Council take serious note of the letter sent by the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to the President of this Council, reminding that “UN policing is an integral part of the United Nations peacekeeping operations and that the Security Council should not act in any way to encroach the mandate of the General Assembly, especially the mandate of the Special Committee on peacekeeping operations (C34) of the UNGA 4th Committee.” As we know, a mission is best executed when using an integrated and coordinated approach. Therefore, all components of peacekeeping operations, mostly the military and police, are very much compatible and complimentary.
I just have a few comments and questions for the Heads of Police components that are here with us today.
On UNMIL, I would just thank Commissioner Greg Hinds and his entire team for their efforts in their support to the Government of Liberia’s response to Ebola. We would be grateful to hear you speak more on the progress in the implementation of UNMIL roadmap related to reforming and restructuring the Liberian Police Force and other law and order institutions, especially factoring in the Ebola Outbreak. Also please share with us your experience on the deployment of the Liberian Police Force throughout the territory.
On MINUSCA, the UN Police have a critical role to play in protecting civilians, reestablishing the rule of law, and assisting the transitional government in the fight against impunity. Question for Commissioner Carrilho: given the challenging operating environment, how can the Council ensure that Individual Police Officers and Formed Police Units are adequately equipped and appropriately trained to carry out their mandate? What do they need to perform their mandated tasks that they don’t already have? And do you think that deploying more Specialized Protection or Support Units will boost MINUSCA’s efforts to protect civilians, and if so, are there certain areas of expertise that you urgently need to fill?
I have also a question for Commissioner Fred Yiga: UNMISS mandate was reinforced to improve the protection civilians, the monitoring of human rights, and to support implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement. Are there best practices that UNMISS police could share with others in implementing out this mandate? We all know that the Government of South Sudan has the primary responsibility to protect its people, and if we foresee a time when UNMISS will handover these tasks to the South Sudanese authorities. It is therefore important that we find ways to build their capacities. We were told that you recently trained the South Sudanese Police; is there a framework that you put in place to monitor and couch your trainees in implementing their police duties?
For both Commissioners Carrilho and Yiga, I have an additional question: given the need to be able to rapidly respond to new violence in South Sudan and Central African Republic, how are you reinforcing coordination with the military component of the Mission? Is the division of labour and areas of responsibility between the military and police clearly or do you see some overlaps?
And on a final note, Madam President, allow me to share Rwanda’s experience as one of the highest contributors of female police officers to UN Missions. As the Rwandan Constitution requires the appointment of at least 30% of women in decision-making organs, a third of Rwandan police officers are women. Therefore, we have been able to deploy female police to UN Missions, who are fulfilling critical tasks as IPOs and FPU members, in policing communities, connecting with local women, and offering expertise in reporting and investigation in sexual and gender-based violence.
Unfortunately, not all countries have reached the point where they can draw from large pools of qualified female candidates ready for deployment to the field or to UN Headquarters for senior directorship posts. Perhaps relaxing some of the rigid recruitment requirements, like requiring fifteen years of relevant experience in some cases, would allow more member states who want to contribute females to step up and do so. It is of course necessary for Member States to create incentives for women to enter the police forces, but it also requires a little creativity and flexibility from the UN Secretariat, without compromising the quality of the candidates.
I thank you.