ACUNS’ newest Newsletter has my report on its Tokyo Liaison Office’s meeting on revitalizing the UN system, back in June 2017.
We had Mr. Takasu, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Human Security to deliver keynote speech, and had two rounds of discussion on the UN peace and security system and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
I presented yesterday at the University of Tokyo’s research conference, organized by the Area Studies Department. My presentation focused on police forces that comprise the UN Police, and the vast variety of their characters, cultures, performance, skills and expectations. Interesting questions were raised with regard to how militarized police forces are dealt with in the UN.
Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) has annual meetings, and that is the biggest gathering of practitioners and academics researching on the UN system. I had a pleasure of presenting at the Plenary this April.
This year’s meeting was in Seoul, Korea.
The program is here.
In its Plenary III, entitled ‘Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Humanitarian Crises’, I presented the findings of my research into individual criminal accountability of UN police personnel. The essense is that challenges that the UN encounters in holding individual UN police officers who commit serious crimes in UN Peace Operations reflect the UN’s fundamental problems. It is not the lack of jurisdiction nor the issue of immunity, as are often claimed by States, that are preventing criminal prosecution of individuals who commit serious crimes.
It has been some time.
I will try catching up with uploading articles from these several months.
My summary record of the consultation meeting, organized by the Global Peacebuilding Association fo Japan (GPAJ), for which I am the Secretary-General, and the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) Tokyo Liaison Office, for which I am Deputy Representative, has been uploaded on the respective websites. The theme was on the cooperation between Japan and Africa on peacekeeping, and we had the Deputy Director of Cairo Center for Conflict Resolution and Peacekeeping in Africa (CCCPA), Mr. Elatawy, to make the opening speech.
Below are the links to the web articles:
I made a presentaiton on the role of the UN police in protecting civilians at the Global Peacebuilding Association’s seminar on 25 March 2017. The following is the summary of my presentation. I did not expect to have so many enthusiastic questions. Great to see that there is a keen interest in the UN police in the Japanese academics and practitioners – very rarely studied area.
The Role of United Nations Police in Protection of Civilians
25 March 2017
Having initiated as the United Nation (UN)’s response to mass civilian killings, the concept of protection of civilians (POC) has become the center of what UNPeace Operations delivers. It is the raison d’être for a few recent missions. Prof. Kihara-Hunt explored the role of the UN police in POC and argued that their central role should be supported institutionally and operationally.
The presentation was in three parts: 1) the birth and development of POC, 2) the development of the role of the UN police, and 3) challenges and suggestions for better delivery of POC.
- The POC concept was born as the UN’s response to mass killings of civilians. The key is, and remains to be, protecting civilians ‘under imminent threat of physical violence’. The content has become more specific. Some recent mandates identify specific groups for protection. Earlier mandates included POC as a part, and some more recent ones have POC as their objectives. POC has shifted from an authority to use force to the duty to protect at two levels: at the level of peacekeepers and that of the mission. The UN considers its POC mandates in three tiers and four phases, taking a holistic approach with its focus on the community in the host State.
- UN police is the fastest growing component of UN Peace Operations. Having started in the 1960s as a 30-member team under the military command, it has grown in number to around 13,000 and has been long recognized as an independent existence. Its functions have shifted from monitoring to capacity building and institution building. They are required to deliver more and more complex tasks. There are two types of UN police: Individual Police Officers (IPOs, including Specialized Police Teams – SPTs), who are seconded by contributing countries and deployed individually; and Formed Police Units (FPUs), who are seconded as units of 120-140 police officers. FPUs are deployed for specific tasks, operating in high-risk environments and/or requiring coherent response. Currently about 70 percent of UN police are FPUs. UN police have gained importance in UN Peace Operations, to the extent that they not only deliver core functions, but also the effective delivery of their functions is linked to the missions’ exit strategies. UN police’ strength, in particular that of IPOs, is their interaction with the communities that they serve for, and information that are based on that posture. Despite this, UN police are yet to be fully integrated into the UN’s planning, strategies, operations and analysis, and struggle to deliver their functions efficiently. They suffer from insufficient and inadequate supply of human and other resources. UN Police are currently under reform. An external review suggested that their functions be considered in two different types: protection and development and that appropriate human resource be provided for those functions.
- POC is a mandate that contains the biggest gap between what is expected and what is delivered, according to the High Panel on UN Peace Operations. In particular, the role of the UN police is most unclear according to a study by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The community-centered approach of the POC matches the strength of the UN police. It is suggested that the UN police play the central role in the delivery of the POC. For that, it is essential that the structure of command be clarified, POC operations to be civilian-led in principle, and the UN police to be fully involved POC planning, strategies, analysis and evaluation.
Also see: https://twitter.com/shasegawa2017/status/846324966865887232
My new book ‘Holding UNPOL to Account: Individual Accountability of United Nations Police Personnel’ is coming out in March 2017. The book probes into the effectiveness of the UN’s accountability mechanisms and arrangements in relation to criminal behaviour by UN Police personnel.
UN police are involved in establishing the rule of law, in UN Peace Operations. However, they themselves commit serious crimes, but are not generally prosecuted. This is likely to have an impact on the UN’s effectiveness and legitimacy. Are the UN’s mechanisms for addressing criminal accountability effective? If there is a problem, how can it be mitigated?
To answer these questions, the qualifications, qualities and functions of UN police were identified. Next, an attempt was made to quantify the problem of their criminal behaviour. Current accountability mechanisms were assessed. Jurisdictional and immunity issues were examined as potential barriers to prosecution. Finally, the obligations of States and the UN to investigate and prosecute criminal acts committed by UN police were examined.
The book offers a rare analysis of raw data of criminal behaviour by UN Peace Operations personnel, and dissects UN’s internal mechanisms. Its examination into legal and practical barriers for prosecution makes it clear that legal obstacles are not as big as they are often pictured to be. It then argues that States and the UN have obligation under International Human Rights Law to investigate and prosecute serious crimes committed by UN Police Personnel. The research indicated that the issue of criminal accountability of UN Police Personnel is linked to bigger issues of the UN, which need to be addressed at its political organs.
For more information and purchase, follow the link below: http://www.brill.com/products/book/holding-unpol-account.
I have been appointed as Associate Professor for the Graduate Programme in Human Security at the University of Tokyo.
I am delivering classes, supervising graduate students, assisting in the running of the program, while pursuing my research in the area of the UN, UN Police, internal mechanisms, accountability, the rule of law and human rights.
I am looking forward to innovative projects and exciting collaboration.