UN peacekeepers warn of increasing global challenges

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Organized crime, breakdowns in law and order, and attacks by extremists, are examples of the challenges faced by UN peacekeepers, the Security Council was told, during a briefing by senior UN Police Commissioners, and UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix.

Organized crime has become a “central scourge facing many countries”, Awale Abdounasir, Police Commissioner for the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), warned the Council. Mr. Abdounasir said that the problem particularly affects fragile states, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Many countries, noted Mr. Abdounasir, have concentrated on a military response to the challenge, but “a judicial response that holds perpetrators of crimes accountable would have been more effective”, and a better strategy for combatting conflict and insecurity involves building up police forces, along with justice sector and prison system reform.

The MONUSCO police commissioner declared that his force has developed an organized crime prevention strategy for DRC and called for concerted efforts to combat the phenomenon at a regional and sub-regional level, as well as the reinforcement of State authority, and strengthened rule of law.

Slow progress on implementing a 2011 peace deal between the Sudanese Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, regarding the security of the Abyei region, has created a “law and order vacuum”, Mary Gahonzir, Senior Police Adviser for the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), told the Council.

Abyei has no formal governance, and boundary lines for the oil-rich territory have not been formally agreed between the Sudan and neighbouring South Sudan. Since the formation of South Sudan in 2011, UNISFA has monitored an uneasy peace in the area.

In Mali, inter-communal violence and extremist attacks have resulted from the slow progress of the country’s peace process, and the vastness of Malian territory, Issouffou Yacouba, the Police Commissioner of the UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) reported.

Acknowledging that peacekeepers are likely to face increasing challenges, Peace Operations chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix, noted the central importance of partnerships to the success of operations, such as the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), which is planning for the mission’s transition, and exit, with the aim of sustaining peace gains and preventing a return to conflict.

 

Mr. Lacroix added that peacekeeping has been made more effective by the increased number of women: the UN, he said, has met its targets for the percentage of female peacekeepers deployed as individual officers, and allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse are on a steady downward trend. Nevertheless, he stressed, vigilance remains essential.

The Security Council briefing took place during the 14th UN Police Week, (4-8 November), when heads of UN police components and police experts from 14 peacekeeping operations, special political missions and regional offices, discuss topics related to performance, conduct and discipline, and strengthening and sustaining peace through human rights.

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