UN rule of law, security officials outline key priorities for 2008
Ensuring that United Nations disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) efforts are more fully integrated into the overall peace processes, getting quality staff and developing new partnerships are among the key priorities for the newly created Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions (OROLSI), according to its senior officials.
“In peacekeeping, DDR has to be an enabler of the peace process itself, not something that’s been added on,” said Ayaka Suzuki, the new chief of the DDR section, which was recently incorporated within OROLSI. “It has to really be an instrumental tool to push the peace process forward, that’s a key priority.”
Another priority is translating policy into actual programmes that can be implemented in the field, said Ms. Suzuki, who took up her post last month. She noted that few people working on DDR worldwide realize, for example, that the UN, along with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), has produced the most comprehensive guidance and standards in this area.
“This is very important because DDR is a very multi-dimensional process, and in many places it’s intimately linked to security sector reform and rule of law reform and of course policing.”
Ms. Suzuki added that a third priority is getting quality staff, which is particularly important for all parts of OROLSI, especially given the unprecedented demand for peacekeepers worldwide.
OROLSI, which came into being last September, brings together a wide range of Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) entities, including the police division; judicial, legal and correctional unit; mine action; DDR, as well as security sector reform functions.
Assistant Secretary-General Dmitry Titov, who heads the new Office, said another key priority in the year ahead will be to further develop partnerships with regional, bilateral, multilateral and other organizations so that the UN is able to maximize its comparative advantages in providing sustainable support.
“All the functions of OROLSI are at the core of UN efforts to support the sustainable development and reform of security, especially in post-conflict countries. We have also been asked to serve as a global UN focal point for the police and corrections issues,” he said.
“With the establishment of OROLSI, the expectation of Member States, of the Secretary-General, and of DPKO’s leadership is that we be more responsive, strategic and agile in providing support and guidance in the police, justice and corrections, DDR and mine action areas.”
Continuing to recruit more and better quality staff and develop closer partnerships, particularly with INTERPOL and other policing organizations, are also two of the key priorities for the Police Division, says Police Adviser Andrew Hughes.
“The number of UN Police deployed has increased by around 65 percent in just under three years to more than 11,000 officers as of January 2008 and with demand increasing, there could be over 16,000 officers worldwide by the end of this year. Managing such rapid expansion is obviously a major challenge.”
The Criminal Law and Judicial Advisory Section of OROLSI covers two distinct rule of law areas: legal and judicial systems, and corrections or prisons systems. In these areas, the section has the responsibility for policy development, screening of candidates for field assignments, as well as for mission support and planning, explains its chief, Robert Pulver.
“In the field, tasks range from assistance in correctional reform and constitutional processes to monitoring and helping to reconstruct the legal system. While the number of officers devoted to these tasks in the field is growing, with around 250 authorized justice posts and over 100 corrections officers, Headquarters staffing remains relatively thin, with the projected total strength of nine officers.”
“Our main priorities for 2008 include working with the Police Division on the concept of a rapidly deployable capacity for Rule of Law, and also providing more guidance and operational support to relevant field components, including through the development of training materials,” he said.
The inclusion of the UN Mine Action Service in OROLSI reflects the growing awareness that achieving many peacekeeping objectives depends on eliminating the threat of landmines and explosive remnants of war, explains John Flanagan, the Service’s Officer-in-Charge. “Mine action clears roads and infrastructure, enabling the deployment of peacekeepers. But it also contributes to public safety and human security.”
A lot of the work done by the UN in the area of security sector reform has not been explicitly part of its mandate and has largely been ad hoc. To address this gap, the Secretary-General last year set up an inter-agency task force to develop an integrated system-wide UN operational approach to providing more effective support for this crucial process.