Briefing the Security Council today, police chiefs from United Nations missions highlighted the work of their respective units and informed the Council members of the challenges their officers face the ground.
Among the different mandates and tasks assigned to these police units, protection of civilians, gender sensitive policing, building capacity of national police forces, conduct and discipline, and safety and security assignments remain common elements.
Introducing Police Commissioners from UN missions in South Sudan, Haiti, Mali and Darfur, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous said: “UN Police (UNPOL) provide physical protection and help establish a protective environment, bringing to bear skills that complement those of military or civilian components [however] the challenges they face on the ground are often daunting.”
Speaking first, Bruce Munyambo, Police Commissioner of the UN Mission in of South Sudan (UNMISS), informed the 15-member Council that despite the efforts of the Mission’s police component to proactively engage with communities, the security situation in the country has been placing “significant” demands on UNPOL.
Recalling the crises in Malakal and Juba, where protection of civilian (PoC) sites and UNMISS premises were either directly attacked or were caught in the crossfire, Commissioner Munyambo underlined the “importance of ensuring that all police officers not only have the relevant skillsets, but also the right mindset to respond quickly and appropriately to a crisis situation.”
Underscoring the importance of gender-sensitive policing to ensure successful implementation of mandated tasks, Police Commissioner Priscilla Makotose of the African Union-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), the only female Police Commissioner at UN peacekeeping missions said:
“Female officers participate in all activities including patrols, family and child protection, gender-awareness and community-oriented policing. They also act as role models, inspiring Darfuri women and girls to advocate for and defend their rights.”
She further highlighted the importance of gender balance in police forces not only to build confidence in communities but also to encourage victims to report cases and thereby help ensure more access to justice.
Further briefing the Council, Brigadier-General Georges-Pierre Monchotte, police chief at the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) called on police contributing countries for their sustained support and provide qualified male and female police officers as well as Formed Police Units to help strengthen UNPOL operations.
He also informed the Council of the recognition of the positive impact of MINUSTAH police on strengthening the capacity of Haitian police forces (PNH).
“It is critical for Haiti’s long-term stability that capacity-building of the PNH remain a priority for the international community until the PNH can provide security for all Haitians,” he said.