Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a UN Security Council Briefing on UN Policing in Peace Operations

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 10, 2021


Thank you, Madam President. We are really grateful to Mexico for promoting sustained engagement at the Security Council on the Women, Peace, and Security agenda. And thank you to Under-Secretary-General Lacroix for your presentation, and to the UN Police Commissioners – both of whom are women, I note – and I really appreciate your insightful briefings that you bring to us directly from the field.

At the outset, allow me to express my condolences to the Government of Egypt for the recent shooting injuries of its police officers who had newly arrived in Bangui on November 1 to serve in MINUSCA. We hope that they will make a full recovery, and we urge a full investigation of the circumstances and context in which these peacekeepers found themselves wounded in a so-called friendly fire incident.

Today I would like to address three aspects of UN Police: areas where we have achieved progress on the WPS agenda, areas where there is more work to be done, and measuring both by implementing an integrated performance and accountability policy.

First, we are pleased to see UN Police make clear how they are advancing the Women, Peace, and Security agenda. Ten years ago, women represented 15 percent of Individual Police Officers deployed with the UN. Today, that has doubled to 30 percent – and while a significant increase, it is simply not enough. In 2011, only 5 percent of police officers in Formed Police Units were women; today it’s 14 percent. Again, a significant increase, but much more needs to be done. This is important, however; women police play leading roles in rebuilding communities and trust between citizens and the security institutions that serve them. The United States strongly supports the uniformed gender parity strategy, and we urge police-contributing countries to embrace policies which increase women’s participation in all levels of policing.

Which leads me to my second point. As I noted, we still have more work to do to ensure women are afforded equal opportunities to excel and lead across the full spectrum of UN policing. For example, very few Formed Police Units have female commanders. So, we are pleased to hear from Under-Secretary Lacroix that this continues to be a top priority for the UN. The A4P+ initiative launched earlier this year rightly calls for the accelerated implementation of the WPS agenda, and a key pillar of that agenda is increasing women’s participation in all levels of peacekeeping.

And at this point, I want to commend my Indian colleagues for the police units that they provided in Liberia, where I served as ambassador. And I was witness to their professionalism and their commitment that made all of us proud to see them in uniform. And I can tell you that they were effective role models for Liberian women and girls, so thank you very much.

Third and finally, Madam President, three years after the unanimous adoption of Resolution 2436, we repeat our strong support for the UN’s commitment to implement an integrated performance and accountability policy. This policy should be based on clear standards for all UN civilian and uniformed personnel working in, and supporting, peacekeeping operations. When peacekeepers fail to protect civilians, or commit instances of abuse, this erodes trust with the local population, and undermines mission effectiveness, and it damages the image of the UN and peacekeeping itself. The UN must hold those who serve in peace operations to the highest standards. We must hold ourselves accountable, address under-performance and misconduct, and select only those who are qualified and ready for deployment. Just as important, the UN should recognize outstanding performance. The annual UN Woman Police Officer of the Year Award is a great initiative, and we would welcome similar ideas from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Police Division.

We need UN Police to be effective, we need them to be successful, and we need to hold them accountable and above reproach. The United States remains committed to supporting UN Police and to helping you meet the challenges that lie ahead. We look forward to continuing to engage on these important topics at the UN Police Light Coordination Mechanism meeting next week in Brindisi and in the 2021 Peacekeeping Ministerial next week* in Seoul.

Thank you very much.