Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Peacekeeping Operations: Police Commissioners

Michael Barkin
Senior Advisor
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 6, 2019


Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Under-Secretary Lacroix, and Police Commissioners, for your briefings.

We talk quite a bit about peacekeeping here in this Council, although our conversations tend to focus on the contributions of military personnel. We are grateful for the courageous troops in blue helmets, but I am glad today that we have an opportunity to recognize the important contributions police make to strengthening the rule of law, which is ultimately the basis for a peaceful society. We must honor those whose work builds the foundations of that peace.

I’d like to congratulate Major Diouf, of Senegal, for receiving the prestigious 2019 United Nations Female Police Officer of the Year Award yesterday. We commend her outstanding work as an officer and her dedication to her duties as a leader of MONUSCO. Additionally, we were pleased to meet with the UNMISS police commissioner during our recent trip with the Council to South Sudan. We strongly support the uniformed gender parity strategy, and we urge Police-Contributing Countries to embrace policies that increase women’s participation.

I’d also like to praise the police officers who served in MINUJUSTH in Haiti and paved the way for it to transition to a Special Political Mission. They trained and professionalized the HNP – now a bright spot in Haiti’s development, taking on even more responsibility for peace and security in their own country. Our understanding of the importance of the rule of law is why we provide extensive capacity-building training to empower Police-Contributing countries. This training helps them deploy well-trained police to UN missions.

Since 2010, the U.S. International Police Peacekeeping Operations Support program has trained more than 12,000 police peacekeepers from more than 12 countries. We have also worked with the United Nations to develop new training courses and strengthen performance standards, including a long-standing partnership with Italy’s Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units to train police trainers and leaders.

In the DRC, we will explore similar opportunities to improve the role UN police play in support of MONUSCO’s protection of civilians and security reform efforts. In Abyei, and along the border between Sudan and South Sudan, we remain concerned about the stability of the rule of law. And we encourage Sudan to immediately grant visas for UN police as a first step to establishing a joint police force in Abyei.

To maintain peace in a global security environment that is becoming more complex, it is important for police forces to deploy with the right equipment. In Mali, we are concerned that, as MINUSMA’s last quarterly report indicated, two Formed Police Units lack mine protective vehicles. These units play a crucial role in building local law enforcement capability, and without the right equipment, their safety is threatened, and their effectiveness is limited.

Mr. President, one year after the unanimous adoption of Resolution 2436, we repeat our support for the UN’s commitment to implement an integrated performance policy. This policy should be based on clear standards for all UN civilian and uniformed personnel working in, and supporting, peacekeeping operations. As Police Commissioners, we count on you to ensure that police deployed in the field have the proper training and equipment to carry out their mandated tasks.

We fully support initiatives to brief the Security Council on peacekeeping performance, and we look forward to hearing candid assessments about performance, including shortfalls, success stories, and how Member States can assist. We also appreciate the Secretary General’s July assessment report on the Police Division. We appreciate his commitment to ensuring that effective performance and accountability of police personnel in the field is one of the Division’s core functions. We commend the Division’s launch of an online tool for the assessment and evaluation of Formed Police Units, which saw 34 evaluations of 49 deployed units and developed 11 performance improvement plans to address identified shortfalls.

Finally, we want to take advantage of the fact that the police commissioners are with us today, and we’d like to hear more about the challenges you face with respect to equipment needs. So I’ll end with three specific questions, some of which have already been asked.

First, how is performance data used to decide Police-Contributing Countries rotations and deployments?

Second, join my colleagues in asking how can we ensure greater numbers of women in police rotations and deployments?

And third, what should be the priorities be for developing and implementing the strategic guidance framework?

Thank you, Mr. President.