Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Gender Issues: Experienced female Swedish police officer named as new UN police chief

UN - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed an experienced female Swedish police officer as the top United Nations police official.

“The UN’s top cop is a woman,” Mr. Ban told reporters in New York, noting that today’s announcement of Ann-Marie Orler as UN Police Adviser coincides with International Women’s Day.

Ms. Orler, who first came to the UN to serve as Deputy Police Adviser in 2008, has been Acting Police Adviser since last year.

In her native Sweden, she served as the Secretary General of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Amnesty International and was also the Police Commissioner in the town of Västmanland.

On the international stage, she has worked as the Programme Manager for Police and Human Rights with the Council of Europe, where she took part in fact-finding missions and trained police officers in Turkey and several Balkan nations, among others.

The Secretary-General today hailed her work in leading “the global effort to recruit more female police officers for UN peace operations.”

At present, there are nearly 13,000 UN Police (UNPOL) – more than 6 per cent of whom are women – from some 100 countries who working in 17 different field missions.

One of her top priorities in her new role as the UN’s top police official will be to enhance the participation of female police officers so that the comprise 20 per cent of all UNPOL in peacekeeping by 2014, Ms. Orler said at a press conference today at UN Headquarters.

She pointed to the role played by the all-female Formed Police Units (FPUs) – comprising police officers trained in dealing with high-risk operations – in Liberia who have helped to “improve the status” of Liberian women police officers.

“As the world has become a global village, there is no doubt that the concept of policing must reflect the same universal values and principles,” Ms. Orler underscored.

Most of the conflicts around the world are a result of challenges to the fundamental social, economic and political rights of all people, she said, stressing that upholding these rights is a top priority.

To adapt to the shifting nature of conflict, “our engagement has also gone through a major evolution,” Ms. Orler noted. “From a passive monitoring role in the early days, we have proactively undertaken executive policing, supported national police in their law and order functions, and help reform, rebuild and restructure the host national police services.”

Each mission has its own unique challenges, said the new Police Adviser, who recently visited Haiti and saw first-hand the efforts of UNPOL to help the impoverished Caribbean nation recover after being struck by a devastating earthquake in January.

The challenges facing the country, she said, are three-fold: dealing with the immediate aftermath of the earthquake; helping the Haitian National Police (HNP) back on its feet to resume providing security; and to boost the country’s justice system.

Ms. Orler also detailed the efforts of UNPOL in other areas, such as the war-torn Sudanese region of Darfur, as well as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Timor-Leste.

She said that she looks forward to taking on the role of Police Adviser in a time of numerous challenges, “but also a time of action, opportunities and change,” highlighting the importance in partnerships to use resources most effectively and improve justice systems.

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