Policing is central in preventing, mitigating and resolving violent conflict and contributing to early peacebuilding and reconciliation. Therefore, an effective, capable and delivery-oriented United Nations police must be a key element of United Nations peace operations.
Global contribution for peace & security
All police personnel working under the Blue Beret are active members of their home police services seconded to work with the United Nations. About “13,000 police men and women serve with us, making it one of the largest, most diverse police services in the world”, said UN Police Adviser Stefan Feller at the UN Chiefs of Police Summit in Jun 2016.
129 countries have seconded female and male police officers to serve the United Nations Police since 1990.
What do we do?
The United Nations has been deploying police officers for service in peace operations since the 1960s. ONUC was the very first UN mission where United Nations police were deployed. The number of UN police officers authorized for deployment in peacekeeping operations and special political missions increased from 5,840 in 1995 to over 15,000 in 2017.
On any given day, UN police are protecting civilians from harm; helping to secure elections; investigating incidents of sexual and gender-based violence; or fighting transnational organised crime and violent extremism alongside their host-state counterparts.
Does UN police have a standing police service?
The Standing Police Capacity is a rapid response capacity with three dozen UN police officers, based in Brindisi, Italy, that provides start-up capability for new police components of UN peace operations. It is part of the Police Division.
The United Nations Police Division seeks highly qualified police officers from United Nations Member States for service in UN peace missions around the world.
UN police officers are authorized by voted resolutions of the Security Council to serve in peacekeeping operations to implement the mandated policing tasks. They are composed of formed police units (currently 66 per cent), individual police officers (currently 34 per cent), which include specialized teams, contracted seconded police and civilian experts.
Find out more information on how to be nominated and serve with UN police.
Female police officers act as role models for gender equality, inspiring women and girls to advocate for their own rights and pursue careers in law enforcement. Female police officers, moreover, provide a greater sense of security to women and children and improve access and support from law enforcement agencies to local women.
A police service that is representative of the population helps restore trust and confidence in the police, especially from women and children, as the police institution is reformed, restructured and rebuilt. Gender sensitive policing increases the operational effectiveness of UN policing. National police services benefit greatly and are more responsive to the whole population when experiences and perspectives of women and men are incorporated in the design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of police legislation, policies and programmes.
The participation of female police officers is critical for the full spectrum of United Nations Police activities, such as the promotion of rule of law, intelligence, planning, leadership, investigations, public order management, capacity-building of host-State police, community-oriented policing, gender awareness raising and engaging communities.
Female police officers also help the United Nations address and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse.
Increasing the number of female police officers
United Nations Police is committed to recruiting more female police officers. In August 2009, the United Nations launched the ‘Global Effort’ and has worked with Member States and national police services since to recruit more female police officers into UN police operations around the world.
The ‘Global Effort’ initiative’ calls on United Nations Member States to:
- Establish a policy that sets the percentage of their contribution of female police officers on a par with their national police gender ratio;
- Review their recruitment requirements and procedures for international deployment to ensure that female candidates are not restricted from applying; and;
- Consider providing incentives for officers who serve in peacekeeping missions.
Implementing the Global Effort
Working closely with member states, specific trainings were designed, funded and implemented to increase the number of female officers eligible for deployment as United Nations Police officer. In parallel, Member States have made efforts to increase the deployment of female police officers, in order to respond to the demand in peacekeeping operations.
As a result, the number of female officers increased from about 900 (seven percent of 12,000 police) in 2009 to 1,230 officers (ten percent of 12,300) in 2017.Yet, more needs to be done. The goal was reaffirmed through Security Council Resolution 2242 (2015), which mandates the United Nations to double its female police representation by 2020.
Mainstreaming gender sensitive policing
The Police Division at United Nations Headquarters also provides a coherent and standardised approach to gender mainstreaming by integration best practices and standards into the police-specific United Nations policies, guidelines and standard operating procedures, based on the Strategic Guidance Framework (SGF) for International Police Peacekeeping, the DPKO/DFS Policy on Gender Equality in UN Peacekeeping Operations (2010) and the DPKO/ DFS Gender Forward Looking Strategy (2014-2018).
In 2015, the United Nations Police Gender Toolkit was formally adopted as a compilation of training materials with standardised best practices on gender mainstreaming in peacekeeping. To better implement the gender mainstreaming activities, obtain much-needed extra budgetary funding and to raise awareness of the work and dedication of female police peacekeepers, United Nations Police and the International Network of Female Police Peacekeepers, conduct several activities, such as dialogue with police contributing countries, outreach to female police associations and information campaigns.
International Female Police Peacekeeper Award
Every year since 2011, one serving female UN police officer receives the UN International Female Police Peacekeeper Award, at the International Association of Women Police conference. The award is given to an outstanding female police peacekeeper serving in a UN peace operation.
2016 Recipient: Yvette Boni Zombre from Burkina Faso
Police Superintendent Yvette Boni Zombre from Burkina Faso received the International Female Police Peacekeeper Award in 2016 for her service and achievements in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). Superintendent Zombre from Burkina Faso worked as training officer with the national police and gendarmerie in the Central African Republic to develop their capacity in criminal investigations. At a time, when allegations of misconduct involving peacekeeping personnel persisted in MINUSCA, she assisted the Office of Internal Oversight, interviewing victims of alleged sexual exploitation and abuse in support of investigations into the allegations.
Watch Police Superintendent Yvette Boni Zombre explains why a female police officer is so crucial to investigate Sexual and Gender-based Violence:
- In 2015, Chief Superintendent Raluca Domuta from Romania, serving in MINUSTAH, Haiti.
- In 2014, Police Inspector Shakti Devi from India, serving in UNAMA, Afghanistan.
- In 2013, Commissioner Codou Camara from Senegal, serving in MINUSTAH, Haiti.
- In 2012 Constable Rezi Danismend from Turkey serving in UNMIL, Liberia.
- In 2011 Deputy Superintendent Shahzadi Gulfam from Pakistan serving in UNMIT, Timor-Leste (UNMIT).
The United Nations police, in conjunction with mission components, United Nations partners and others, including the African Union, the European Union and INTERPOL, strengthens rule of law capacities and supports security sector reform in host States, in line with international human rights law. This support reinforces national, regional and international efforts to disrupt criminal networks and address key drivers of conflict and violence, as well as social injustice and inequality.
UN Police is part of the "Global Focal Point" arrangement, which allows the delivery of UN policing expertise in collaboration with other UN entities for effective conflict prevention, transition and sustainability after a UN peace mission is closed.
“I strongly believe that the Global Focal Point (GFP) arrangement has become a new, indispensable, and system-wide delivery platform”, Alexandre Zouev, Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions.
For more information visit the UN policing page.