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UN Police ‘vital’ across spectrum of peacekeeping, Security Council hears

Unaisi Vuniwaqa, Police Commissioner with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), meets young girls at a school in the capital, Juba.
UNMISS/Eric Kanalstein
Unaisi Vuniwaqa, Police Commissioner with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), meets young girls at a school in the capital, Juba.

UN Police ‘vital’ across spectrum of peacekeeping, Security Council hears

Peace and Security

The Security Council on Wednesday was briefed on the “vital role” UN Police play across the whole spectrum of the world body’s work, from “conflict prevention to peacekeeping to peacebuilding".   

In their annual briefing to ambassadors, UN police commissioners serving in the Central African Republic, Haiti, Mali and South Sudan, spoke in detail about the difference they’ve made, and the ongoing challenges they face in the field.

Overarching priorities

Speaking via videoconference on behalf of UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Alexandre Zouev, Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the UN Department of Peace Operations (DPO) called on nations to support the Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative, which he attested “remains an essential multilateral tool for preventing conflict and sustaining peace for millions of vulnerable people around the globe”. 

Painting a picture of A4P’s “overarching” priorities in guiding field operations, implementing resolutions, and responding to the COVID-19 crisis, he upheld that the UN Police (UNPOL) service is “strongly committed to” their advancement and to “further strengthening the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations”.

“A4P aims to refocus peacekeeping on realistic expectations, make peacekeeping missions stronger and safer, and mobilize greater support for political solutions, for well-equipped, well-trained forces”, stated Mr. Zouev. “Through A4P, we are better able to address today’s challenges to peace and security, and ultimately improve the lives of those we serve”.

UNPOL on the ground

To ensure the highest levels of performance and accountability, UNPOL works closely with Member States and other partners, playing “a key role in all aspects of protection of civilians, including physical protection”, he said.

He stressed that UNPOL continued to “reinforce zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse”, including through pre-deployment and in-mission training and was refining its environmental impact, to align with missions’ Environmental Risk Management Plans.

Gender sensitivity

The Head of the Police and Corrections Component in Haiti, Commissioner Serge Therriault, updated on the advisory role the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) had taken to improve policing and the general management of the security sector. 

This includes dealing with an uptick in crime that is prompting new human rights concern while noting that the spreading COVID-19 pandemic requires high operational readiness.

Moreover, the Commissioner spoke at length on how the mission is working towards gender equality, including efforts to create a more "gender responsive environment" to ensure a higher presence of women police throughout BINUH operations.

Battling COVID

From the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Police Commissioner Unaisi Vuniwaqa highlighted that the current ceasefire has provided an opportunity to recalibrate protection responsibilities – especially for displaced persons both in and out of protection zones. 

On UNMISS’ pandemic response, she spoke about the effort to counter local misinformation, providing special care for the displaced, and recourses to “strict quarantine” measures aimed at dampening COVID outbreaks.

Ms. Vuniwaqa concluded with UNMISS’ firm commitment to civilian protection. 

Beyond expectations

Meanwhile, Pascal Champion, of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), informed the Council of its successes, including in supporting the country’s “political peace agreement” through regular contact with all “human rights actors” and its work towards ensuring peaceful elections, which he said was “beyond anyone’s expectations”.

The Commissioner also noted that MINUSCA is “way ahead” in its plans for a gender-integrated mission, and while acknowledging that infection rates in CAR have remained low, also spoke of efforts to control the coronavirus.

In closing, Mr. Pascal highlighted UNPOL’s attention in encouraging the “autonomy” of the people on the ground.

Lacking resources

The final briefer, Issoufou Yacouba of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), maintained that policing must have a “full-fledged role to play” in implementing the country’s Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation along with Security Council resolution 2382, which he asserted, requires significantly higher levels of resources than the mission currently has.

While crediting community policing with assisting in smoothly managing effort to control crime and promote the rule of law, he stressed that the country’s security requirements must be “better harmonized”.