Considerations for Police Leadership in UN Peace Operation

Challenges Forum and its Partner DCAF and the United Nations Police Division held a panel discussion on police leadership in UN-led peace operations in the margins of UN Police Week in New York on 6 November 2018. The panel discussion was organised in collaboration with the Permanent Missions to the UN of the Federal Republic of Germany and Norway.

Successful peace operations require capable, courageous and accountable leadership. Given the challenges faced by contemporary peace operations, police leadership plays a central role in the achievement of mission mandates, and the importance of effective police leadership within UN missions cannot be overstated.

The purpose of this panel discussion was to bring together UN police commissioners, senior police advisors and senior police division staff, to discuss these issues in an open manner. The outcomes of the discussion builds on the previous panel that was held on the margins of the UN Chiefs of Police Summit in June, and feed directly into the update of the Considerations guidance. The Challenges Forum is currently revising it seminal work — Considerations for Mission Leadership in UN Peace Operations — which addresses the new and more complex considerations, or key emerging issues, facing today’s mission leaders.

The discussion — which included UN Police Advisor Luis Carrilho, and UN Police Commissioners from missions as Sudan (UNMIS) and to the DRC (MONUSCO) — focused on key developments and emerging challenges, both of which will require a re-think in how we view needs in terms of police leadership.

Changing mission contexts and evolving mandates were some of the challenges discussed. It is crucial that the UN invest in building police leaders to be able to take on this challenging task. Police leadership in an international environment requires an additional set of skills from those serving in similar roles nationally. The support to political processes was another point of discussion, in which UNPOL and police leaders have a vital role. Examples were provided from a number of different mission contexts, where UNPOL leadership were involved in ceasefire negotiations or in advocacy to de-escalate political tensions or as guarantors of security during DDR processes. Other points of discussion included key leadership engagements and Police-Military cooperation. UNPOL have a dual function of not only supporting the maintenance of security and stability, but are also mandated to build the capacity of national actors to be able to take over this role.