Re-thinking police work

A new NUPI working paper is out, examining the Norway-led specialized police team (SPT) that has been deployed to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) since late 2010. The objective of SPT is to build the capacity of the Haitian National Police (HNP) to conduct investigations into sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). According to the authors, Dr Marina L. Caparini and Dr Kari M. Osland, the SPT represents an innovative approach to deploying police personnel in UN peacekeeping operations and to building the capacity of host state police. By providing a closely coordinated team of police experts who work closely with local police in defining, developing and implementing a specific project that is independently funded yet embedded within the UNPOL component, this new deployment mechanism offers several advantages for supporting police and rule of law development compared to the traditional peacekeeping approach that relies primarily on using individual police officers (IPOs) to build police capacity. Download the working paper...

In Fight Against Violent Extremism, Why Is Prevention Elusive?

Countering violent extremism has become a cottage industry in both the global North and South, as Daesh (also known as ISIS) and other transnational armed terrorist groups continue to threaten the very foundations on which national and international peace and stability have rested for decades. For the countries of the Sahel-Sahara and North Africa regions, brutally affected by the scourge of violence, countering violent extremism (CVE) has been embraced as the new overarching framework for a continued pursuit of the “war on terror.” Current Approaches and Limitations Under the CVE umbrella, these countries have multiplied initiatives and adopted various measures both at the national and regional levels to address the roots of radicalization, violent extremism, and terrorism. Efforts based on increasing education and cultural outreach—such as training imams to counter radical Islamic teachings—have become common. Some countries, with the active participation of civil society organizations, have devised national action plans that include the organization of inter-religious and inter-communal dialogue, as well as awareness-raising campaigns aimed at encouraging citizen engagement in the prevention and the fight against violent extremism. Still others have included in their national CVE strategy the creation of socioeconomic opportunities for youth and other marginalized groups to prevent their radicalization. Meanwhile, more traditional law and order-based counterterrorism approaches have also taken on more of a focus on prevention, rather than merely responding to the after-effects of attacks. This includes adopting legislative and policing frameworks to control, repress, and track terrorist activities; training, equipping and reorganizing national security forces and intelligence services; and enhancing border surveillance and check points. Some of these countries, because of porous borders and...

Freeing Prevention From Conflict: Investing in Sustaining Peace

As the preparations for the May 2016 United Nations General Assembly’s high-level debate on peace and security intensify, prevention seems to be on everyone’s lips. The three 2015 UN global peace and security reviews that frame the debate have conveyed a common message: that the political instruments, tools, and mechanisms the world body deploys to address violent conflict all attest to the failure of early prevention. All three reports, not surprisingly, recommended a greater focus on prevention. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his follow-on report on the recommendations of one of these reviews, by the High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO), wholeheartedly endorsed this. The skeptics among political observers and those who have followed UN reforms over the years should not be blamed for asking, “So, what’s new?” This is not the first time that the UN and its member states, coming to grips with the woeful shortcomings of their responses to old and emerging global threats, have rediscovered the virtues of prevention. Nothing concentrates the mind more than imminent crisis and once that danger dissipates so does the political will needed, they would argue, to make prevention the first port of call before the outbreak of violence. To prove these skeptics wrong, it is necessary to find ways to help move the prevention discourse from rhetoric to action and to help member states deliver on their commitment to make prevention truly the core function of the UN. At least two inter-related strategies and conversations are needed. The first is to fully appreciate the policy, programmatic, and financial implications of this renewed focus on prevention, particularly as...

Getting clear about conflict prevention at the UN

The 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations (UN) last year has prompted new questions about the organisation’s ability to effectively address peace and security problems around the globe. The UN peace and security architecture has expanded dramatically since the Cold War. This has partly been in response to the changing nature of conflict, but it is also a reflection of the organisation’s own ability to provide effective responses. After an increased number of complex intra-state conflicts in the 1990s, the world saw a sharp decrease in numbers in the early 2000s. However, in the past five years, these numbers have again been on the rise. This is particularly important for peace operations; perhaps the most visible of international responses to conflicts. Peace operations have, at best, delivered mixed results. This is particularly true for robust missions, which are drawn out over prolonged periods, and face increased challenges in their ability to deal with transnational threats such as terrorism and the protection of civilians. Attempts to reform the UN’s peace and security mechanisms have been undertaken since the 1990s. The so-called Brahimi Report of 1999 was a response to the challenges faced by UN peacekeeping in the ’90s, especially the failure to protect civilians in Bosnia and prevent the genocide in Rwanda. The report led to positive changes – including the creation of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture in 2005. Problems of effectiveness, funding, coordination and coherence remain, however. Peace operations have not, for example, been able to fulfil the goals of protecting civilians; nor has the UN been effective in preventing conflicts and sustaining peace. It is...
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