We must prioritize the UN police’s ability to guarantee better protection of civilians [fr]
Police Commmissioners in United Nations peacekeeping operations - Statement of Mr. Alexis Lamek, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 10 November 2016
I would like to thank Senegal for having organized our debate today on the role of police. I would also like to thank Mr. Ladsous and the heads of police components with us today for their briefings.
Allow me to address the general approach of improving United Nations police performance. In convening the Chiefs of Police Summit in June for the first time, the United Nations took an important step in that direction, as was the distribution this year of the conclusions on the external review of the functions, structure and capacity of the United Nations police. We must all prioritize the United Nations police’s ability to guarantee better protection of civilians and improve the performance of staff deployed in missions. It is in that spirit that I would like to focus on three aspects that we believe to be most important.
First, training is a precondition for a long-term improvement of police capacity, beginning with force generation when we send individual police officers and formed police units that are vetted and well trained, including on the linguistic front, a point to which I will return. Secondly, United Nations police support for capacity-building of the host country’s police remains critical. It requires sharing best practices and establishing a full criminal chain in the host country, including the police, the judiciary and penitentiary administration.
The ability to clearly assess the effectiveness of the police is essential to improving its performance. We must take all experience at all levels into account. There is also a need to assess good coordination with the police component with other components of peacekeeping operations, including the military component and the human rights division, which will ensure that the police are part of the comprehensive strategy of the operation. I know that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Police Division are working on the matter of assessment, and we eagerly await those results.
Thirdly, developing neighbourhood police activities within peacekeeping operations should contribute to fostering long-term stability. Within peacekeeping operations, police can help to progressively rebuild confidence between populations and State institutions by keeeping criminals off the streets. Of course, to that end police detachments cannot remain on the sidelines, but must instead be held accountable to the communities they serve. Through its neighbourhood policing activities, the police component of peace operations naturally forges close links with police forces and local gendarmerie. Such cooperation can take on various forms, such as mentoring or joint patrolling, and is therefore crucial to bolstering national capacity.
Allow me now to touch upon three challenges that were addressed in the briefings that we heard this morning from the Police Commissioners.
First, I wish to talk about linguistic challenges. In order to be effective, police forces should be able to become part of local communities, particularly in missions involving the protection of civilians. For that reason, it is essential to deploy police officers and gendarmes who speak the language and know the culture of the host country in order to foster, facilitate and ensure smooth relations with the population. The Paris Ministerial Conference on Peacekeeping in Francophone Environments, which took place in October, identified approaches to be adopted in the area of training. France will of course participate in training efforts regarding the French language through police training activities.
On that topic, I would like to pose a question to each of the Police Commissioners present. The actions undertaken by peacekeeping operations, which include capacity-building in host countries, are of course key to long-term stability. However, daily contact with local forces and the population requires full knowledge of the language of the country. I am therefore wondering if the Police Commissioners of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan and even the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur might provide us with additional information on the challenges their police officers face in the area of language? What measures do they think should be undertaken to address that challenge? Should such measures be taken during force generation, training or during the deployment of a mission?
I will now move on to the second challenge, that of gender. We endorse efforts aimed at deploying more female police officers, who can greatly contribute to the performance of police components, in particular by fostering better interaction with vulnerable populations and with victims of human rights violations, as well as by participating in investigations into particular types of violence, including sexual violence. We must combat sexual abuse and exploitation by ensuring that all receive equal treatment before the law. Protecting victims and identifying and punishing perpetrators requires greater communication between United Nations agencies and organizations, on the one hand, and civil, military and judicial authorities in the countries involved in peacekeeping missions, on the other.
The third and last challenge that we believe to be key is the use of modern technology by police components, which involve the activities of the police in general, as well as, for example, the gathering of evidence. That requires police officers within peacekeeping operations to be properly equipped, and better cooperation with international organizations, access to databases and the use of modern techniques for investigation. All such measures allow the police force to better protect people and to prevent violations of human rights.