By Cecilia Ologunagba
New York, Sept. 1, 2022
UN Secretary General António Guterres says the United Nations (UN) Police is a cornerstone of the organisation’s work as well as the vision contained in its Common Agenda.
Guterres said this while delivering remarks to the third UN Chiefs of Police Summit (UNCOPS) in New York on Thursday.
The UNCOPS brought together ministers, police chiefs and senior representatives of regional and professional policing organisations from 90 countries.
According to him, the police officers from more than 90 countries who serve at UN operations around the world represent “multilateralism in action”.
“Since the first deployment of United Nations Police in 1960, they have continued to embody the promise, hope and optimism of our Organisation,” he said.
The UN chief said UNCOPS2022 was being held at a critical time when the world is facing the highest number of violent conflicts and COVID-19 pandemic.
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”.
He said UN peacekeeping operations were increasingly being targeted by violent extremists and “peace spoilers”.
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.
“Action for Peacekeeping Plus, which was launched in 2021, aims to accelerate implementation.”
The UN chief stressed that specialised policing expertise is needed “more than ever” to keep the peace and maintain public order, but also to fight increased organised 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.”
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.
Guterres thanked the policing officials for providing their best officers to the UN, particularly women officers, which has helped the organisation to surpass gender parity targets and ensure policing is gender responsive.
He also urged countries to increase their technological support so that UN Police could keep pace with needs, both now and in the future.