Police officers from more than 90 countries who serve at UN operations around the world represent “multilateralism in action”, Secretary-General António Guterres said in New York on Thursday.
Mr. Guterres was delivering remarks to the third UN Chiefs of Police Summit (UNCOPS), which brought together ministers, police chiefs, and senior representatives of regional and professional policing organizations.
“Since the first deployment of United Nations Police in 1960, they have continued to embody the promise, hope and optimism of our Organization,” he said.
Combatting ‘peace spoilers’
UNCOPS2022 was being held at a critical time, said Mr. Guterres.
The world is currently facing the highest number of violent conflicts since 1945, in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis. Meanwhile, geopolitical tensions mean conflicts are more complex and prolonged.
UN Police, who work in the service of peace, are deployed in what the Secretary-General called “an increasingly complex and challenging environment – sometimes in places where there is no peace to keep”.
Furthermore, UN peacekeeping operations are increasingly being targeted by violent extremists and “peace spoilers”, he added.
Action for Peacekeeping
In response, the UN launched the Action for Peacekeeping initiative in 2018, aimed at making missions stronger, safer and more effective.
“We are able to deploy new military and police capabilities more quickly, and to include more women peacekeepers, police and civilians in our operations,” said Mr. Guterres. “Action for Peacekeeping Plus, which was launched last year, aims to accelerate implementation.”
Essential for justice
The UN chief stressed that specialized policing expertise is needed “more than ever” to keep the peace and maintain public order, but also to fight increased organized crime and natural resource trafficking, and advance environmentally responsive policing practices.
“As societies emerge from conflict, violence and instability, rule of law institutions, including the police – which is the first element of the justice chain – are essential for preventing relapse into conflict and paving the way for sustainable peace, stability and prosperity.”
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
A group photo of participants in the third United Nations Chiefs of Police Summit (UNCOPS).
Power of UN Police
The Secretary-General said one of the measures of success for UN peacekeeping is a “timely exit”, which means that host countries can undertake primary responsibility for security and protection.
“Time and again, we have seen the power of the United Nations Police to achieve this – for example in Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Timor-Leste,” he said.
Mr. Guterres thanked the policing officials for providing their best officers to the UN, particularly women officers, which has helped the Organization to surpass gender parity targets and ensure policing is gender responsive.
He also urged countries to increase their technological support so that UN Police can keep pace with needs, both now and in the future.