Friday, February 08, 2008

Peacekeeping: UN top cops meet in Italy

Improving the way United Nations Police help reform, restructure and rebuild national police forces in countries emerging from conflict is among the key topics at a two-day conference starting today in Italy, bringing together top officials from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO).

UN Police Commissioners and Senior Police Advisers from 18 peacekeeping missions will attend the event, which will also focus on changes made in DPKO last year as part of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s wider reform of the world body’s peacekeeping operations. A key feature of this reform was the setting up of the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions (OROLSI), which includes the UN Police Division.

“Policing plays an increasingly important role in UN peacekeeping and this looks set to grow in the years ahead, especially as the international community seeks to develop the rule of law and reform security institutions in States recovering from conflict. Providing local populations with well-trained, well-equipped, accountable and community-oriented police is key,” said Assistant Secretary-General Dmitry Titov, who heads OROLSI.

UN Police Adviser Andrew Hughes will chair the conference and update participants on what the new OROLSI framework means for global policing, while also focusing on the challenges ahead as the Police Division deals with unprecedented demand for officers. There are currently over 11,000 deployed worldwide, and this could increase to more than 16,000 officers by next year.

As well as the Police Division, OROLSI groups together DPKO’s judicial, legal and correctional units; mine action; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and security sector reform functions.

“Our key role as UN Police officers is increasingly helping to reform, restructure and rebuild national forces and we need the resources and full support from Member States to do this,” said Mr. Hughes. “The number of police officers deployed has increased by around 65 per cent over the past three years and this growth is set to continue. Darfur, Chad, Timor-Leste and other missions all have major police components.”

Encouraging more female officers into UN policing, as well as security sector reform, criminal law, judicial, and other issues will also be discussed during the conference.

The increasing role of Formed Police Units (FPUs) – fully mobile, rapid reaction police units made up of up to 140 officers entirely from one contingent – in UN peacekeeping operations will also be highlighted. The first all-female FPU, made up of Indian officers, joined the UN operation in Liberia a year ago.

Source: UN News Centre