United Nations peacekeeping operations: Briefing by Police Commissioners
Security Council Briefing on the Contribution of United Nations Police to the Action for Peacekeeping Priorities
Practicing International Peacekeeping at Home: the Domestic Security Implication of Police Peacekeeping.
Often times decisions, norms, ideas and policies at the multilateral level filter to the national level and consequently influence decision-making. Beyond the policy level, direct exposure to institutional norms predispose actors to behave in ways that demonstrate a certain level of learning and eventual application. Peacekeeping missions are expected to be the embodiment of, among other things, the application of international norms of human rights. Thus, peacekeepers are trained and orientated to uphold such principles while in the theatre
of ever more complex operations.
To attain these lofty goals, the Pre- to post- deployment stages in the United Nations peacekeeping cycle is an important component of the Action for Peacekeeping Plus principles. Many peacekeepers from Police Contributing Countries (PCCs) may have completed several tours of peacekeeping missions in usually difficult and ever more complex and fluid terrains. Therefore, preparations before their duty-tours and post-operations debriefing, top-up
training and skills enhancements have become even more essential to the success of an overall peacekeeping mission.
As has been emphasised by previous speakers, United Nations Police are critical components to the implementation of the Action of Peacekeeping Plus priorities. In this briefing, I highlight three key interlinking points:
1. Peacekeeping has a democratising effect on the security sector in host communities and troop contributing countries; and must take into account the need for a political process that is inclusive and sensitive to local dynamics.
2. Peacekeeping strengthens legitimacy and effectiveness of domestic security relations among the various entities of the security sector in the country; and
3. The mutually reinforcing benefits of police in peacekeeping to the women peace and security agenda in the peacekeeping theatre and at the domestic level in member states. These three points highlight a number of the A4P+ priorities, which are: (1)Strategic and operational integration, that is enhancing strategic and operational integration to achieve unity of purpose for greater impact; (2) Capabilities and mindsets: that peacekeeping missions must have the right capabilities and mindsets for mandate implementation; (3) Innovative and adaptive peacekeeping that is flexible, responsive and sensitive to the operational environment; (4) the cross-cutting theme of women, peace and security in ensuring a positive multiplying effect on women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in peace and politicalprocesses; (5) accountability of peacekeepers; and (6) strategic and operational integration.
The democratising effect of peacekeeping on the security sector Several police contributing countries (PCC) are young democracies with chequered histories; several of whom are on positive paths to democratization. Others are grappling with their own internal security challenges. Therefore, in their deployment to peacekeeping missions,
these countries are on a mission to provide support to other countries in distress, improve their capacities, and support host countries in their quest also for peace and security. This results in a mutually beneficial relationship between the UNPOL in the peacekeeping theatre, and the UNPOL upon their return home. In striving to achieve the highest standards of the peacekeeping mission, police peacekeepers sometimes engage in tasks that they may ordinarily not perform in their own countries, such as establishing and maintaining strong partnerships with local civil society and women’s networks, regularly interacting with fragile people and local communities to achieve unity of purpose and for greater impact. The performance of these tasks and the high standards that peacekeepers are expected to maintain ensures that peacekeepers become accountable. The domino effect of this practical learning experience is that norm diffusion occurs in which international institutional norms and standards practised during peacekeeping operations are then transposed formally and organically in the police service of the contributing country. In studies conducted using the Ghana Police Service as case study, former peacekeepers testified to how robust peacekeeping standards have positive effects on domestic performance and the discharge of their duties.
Strengthening legitimacy of domestic security relations through peacekeeping It has been established that in peacekeeping missions, enhancing strategic and operational integration is essential to achieving unity of purpose for greater impact. UNPOL contribution to this objective is critical as they are the one entity that has regular and direct interaction with host communities, be they individual police or as formed police units. Additionally, maintaining operational effectiveness requires strong inter-unit cohesion and collaboration with other actors in the peacekeeping theatre as well as the host community. This has also led to strong domestic security relations at the troop contributing country level as personnel interact with several actors from diverse backgrounds in the peacekeeping mission.
Ghana typifies this phenomenon. It has engaged in international peacekeeping for several decades. Its police officers have been deployed to several peacekeeping missions. Through these experiences, Ghana established of the Formed Police Unit, whose first deployment was to South Sudan in 2015. Originally established to deploy to international peacekeeping missions, the FPU has increasingly been used for internal operations. Within Ghana, it has been deployed to guard critical national security installations, as first responders in local crises across the country and in preventive deployment capacity during public assemblies. Thisstandalone model of the FPU at the local level is an interesting phenomenon that, I argue, supports the A4P+ priorities. As a formalised unit within the Ghana Police Service, it has regular training on firearms safety, human rights, crowd control, and protection of civilians and vulnerable groups. Constant training has improved their professionalism both internally in Ghana and at the UN level where they are regularly honoured (in December 2018, 165 officers of the Ghana Formed Police Unit who had been on deployment to UNMISS in South Sudan were honour). The Unit had been on deployment to Bentui, South Sudan for one year, and were being honoured for the critical role they played in giving special protection to
vulnerable groups, especially women and children who had been affected by the instability in South Sudan. The Ghana FPU’s role had been to protect the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
The experiences of the standing arrangement of the police and their regular use in Ghana law enforcement has ensured that they are operationally ready for deployment, as they are always in “Mission Mode”.
Ensuring a positive multiplier effect of women’s full, equal participation in peace and political processes Since the promulgation of UNSCR 1325 and other related resolutions on women, peace and security, the UN has encouraged member states to increase the nomination of women to peacekeeping missions. To reinforce this agenda, the UN often gives percentage quotas to troop and police contributing countries. This agenda has dual benefitsfor the host community as well as the troop or police contributing country. To meet UN targets, police contributing countries have enhanced the recruitment of females into their police units, resulting in a greater pool of female police officers for international peacekeeping and domestic purposes. While the figures are still low and more needs to be done to increase the number of women in UN Police, the positive roles played by female police in peacekeeping missions and their influence on host communities is commendable. Female police officers are instrumental in the aftermath of conflict-related, during disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration processes, the recruitment and training of women into the security services, and in critical cordon and search functions.
UNPOLs contributions to the Action for Peacekeeping priorities are critical. To improve this contribution, there is a need for innovation, adaptability, operational readiness, strategic and operational integration and accountability of peacekeepers in missions where fragile states are often the beneficiaries. Yet it has been established that beyond fragile host countries, police contributing countries have through innovative strategies maximised their participation in UN peacekeeping to benefit their own societies and strengthen the legitimacy
and effectiveness of domestic security relations.