"UN police men and women are building the capacities of host state police, providing operational support and protecting civilians"

Statement by Ambassador Peter Wilson of the UK mission to the UN, on United Nations Policing

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

UN Security Council

Thank you Madam President. And thank you very much to our briefers today.

I would like to congratulate Australia on adopting the Security Council’s first ever resolution on policing, and for holding this inaugural briefing by heads of police components. It really is a great idea. The United Kingdom looks forward to this at least becoming an annual session and we also look forward to hearing more from police components in the course of our normal Security Council business. We think that’s an extremely important part of the work that we do.

This debate, we think, is long overdue. The United Nations first deployed police in the Congo in 1960. In the last 20 years there’s been a significant increase in demand. The United States set out the figures. There’s been an eightfold increase in 20 years.

As we have heard from our briefers today, the United Nations police men and women are building the capacities of host state police, providing operational support, and in some cases, actually acting as interim police and protecting civilians.

The need for effective UN police is likely to continue to increase in the future. The nature of conflict is changing. New challenges require this Council to change how we respond. Deploying a large number of military troops may not always be the right approach to dealing with failing states. Instead, an effective United Nations policing component can sometimes be a more flexible and effective way to support countries. This is especially true in contexts in which the lines between political violence and criminal violence have become blurred. I thought that came out particularly clearly from Mr Carrilho. and in that context I would like to ask just one question, which is: In the Central African Republic, where we have put a much stronger emphasis on policing in the mandate, have we got the balance right, or is it not enough?

Moreover, as the military components of peacekeeping missions start to drawdown, such as in Haiti, United Nations police could provide an important bridge. This model of a “Police-Keeping Mission” could become a Security Council tool in the future.

Madam President,

An effective United Nations policing response to these new challenges requires that they place the safety and security of civilians at the centre of all their activities. Sir Robert Peel, the British Home Secretary who established London’s Metropolitan Police in 1829, was the first to articulate the principles of ‘policing by consent’. Nearly two hundred years later, these “Peelian principles” remain the central tenet of British policing, and for many other countries around the world.

Nowhere are these principles more important than in countries that have been ravaged by conflict. Stability requires citizens to trust their police and to perceive them as legitimate. We must work together to ensure that UN policing has the tools and skills to help build police forces that focus on the welfare and security of citizens.

Madam President

In order for the United Nations police components to achieve this, we would suggest focusing on three main areas and I think they have come out very clearly from the briefings we have heard this morning.

First, we need reform at Headquarters and in the field to strengthen international policing doctrine, standards and training to ensure that United Nations police is ready to face future challenges. We strongly support Australia’s call for this today. There are several promising initiatives underway, including the development of the Strategic Guidance Framework - which is a single policy to guide all UN policing activity. Greg Hinds spoke to this in his presentation and it is important. But more needs to be done. For example, there is still no standardised approach to how training is delivered. We urge the Secretary-General’s High-Level panel Review on Peace Operations to present us with bold and ambitious recommendations on how we can take action to improve UN policing.

Second, we must get the right people with the right skills on the ground swiftly. We need to broaden and deepen the pool of available expertise, including the range of Police-contributing countries. Fred Yiga made that point very clearly in the presentation that he gave on South Sudan earlier. We need more female police officers, and we urge Police Division to do more to reach their twenty percent target. I think, frankly, that we all envy the statistics that Rwanda gave us about their own police force earlier today. Formed police units, and individual police officers will remain critical. But we will also need to deploy specialised teams with niche capabilities and skills such as the ability to deal with sexual and gender based crimes. And we need civilian policing experts that can work with development actors to build the capacities and institutions of the host state’s police force.

Thirdly, we need to improve coordination within the United Nations system and strengthen partnerships with other actors. An effective UN policing effort requires better joining up of all of the United Nations departments and agencies working on these issues. We need a mission planning process that takes into account the comparative advantages of all the key UN actors working in the rule of law sector, and sequences their activity accordingly. And we need improved mechanisms to coordinate with international financial institutions and regional organisations who also operate in this area. The joint DPKO-UNDP global focal point for police, justice and corrections is a welcome step forward on internal coordination. But more needs to be done.

Madam President,

The United Kingdom is committed to doing our part to support United Nations policing. We have UK officers deployed to Haiti, South Sudan, and Iraq. We want to increase this support, especially through providing niche capabilities in areas such as organised crime, community policing and sexual and gender-based violence. We are also at the forefront of donor efforts, working in fourteen conflict-affected countries, spending eighty million dollars on security and justice programmes in 2013 and providing more than 10 million women with improved access to security and justice services.

I’ve got two other questions that just I wanted to put to our briefers now that we have this opportunity. The first is, the fact that you all raised the need for more specific mandates to help effective policing. We need more specific detail from the field of key challenges and I think again I think that that has come through very clearly from other Members of the Security Council today. So my question is, what is your view, becausewe have, I think, begun to express ours, but what is your view on the best way to achieve this?

And the second question for all of you is how you would measure success? We clearly need effective benchmarks to tell whether we are succeeding or failing in transitioning to host state police forces, but how would you achieve that?

Madam President,

Finally, I don’t want to lose this opportunity today, to pay tribute to all of the men and women serving in United Nations police components across the world. As we discuss the challenges and reforms required to improve UN policing, we must never forget the risks that they take every single day to make our world a safer place. Today’s debate is also an opportunity for me, on behalf of my government to say thank you.

Published 20 November 2014