Essay: Strategic Assessment of International Policing

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Changing Paradigm in International Policing: A Strategic Assessment Paper on International Policing in the Contemporary Environment

The first United Nations peacekeeping mission was dispatched to the Middle East in 1948. it's mission was "(Desiring) to bring about a cessation of the hostilities in Palestine without prejudice to the rights, claims and position of either Arabs or Jews."

The role of the military looking peacekeeping forces was not to engage in military action, or to choose one -side over the other, but by their presence to represent the member nation states of the United Nations in its role to negotiate, first, a cease fire, and, subsequently, to engage the warring Arabs and Jews in non-violent conflict resolution. Non-violent conflict resolution has been the weighty undertaking of the United Nations in its role as a facilitator of peace since that time.

Towards this endeavour, the face of the peacekeeping mission forces has changed, and beginning in 1960 with the deployment of forces through the UN Operation in Congo (UNOC), the added component of a Police Adviser to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations reflected a mindset of "sustainable peace through security and justice."

The first goal of the Congo mission civilian police (CivPol) was to oversee the withdrawal of Belgium forces from the Congo, and to work to ensure and maintain an internal governmental infrastructure through law and order.

Providing technical assistance to the area's government, and as a presence representative of legal authority, the ONUC was charged with the expanded responsibility and authority of maintaining territorial integrity and political independence of the Congo.

Since its first operation in the Congo, and up to 1999, the UN police were deployed on a total of six policing missions.

With a force today of 11,500 men and women, the civilian police as a component to the peacekeeping mission has grown in numbers and mission largely as a result of the 2000 special panel report to the UN Security Council commonly known as the Brahimi Report.

In 2000, the Brahimi Report, recognizing the integral role of a civilian police component in its role as a continuation of the justice system in areas impacted by civil or transnational war, made recommendations to the UN Secretary-General Koffi Anan, calling for the expansion of the UN Police by creating a Police Division, and creating within that division a strong, capable, responsive leadership as a first point of contact for gathering data and information that would be brought back to the UN and used in making peacekeeping deployment decisions on actions to be taken.

While the evolution of the UN Police Division has come about with perhaps less urgency than recommended in the report, the division has nonetheless come to reflect one of the most important and noticeable changes in the UN's approach to its peacekeeping mandate since the creation of the UN itself. This change is indicative of the changes in conflict as it exists today, in the 21st century.

The following is a strategic assessment of contemporary conflict, and the role of the UN Police Division in mitigating conflict and ensuring the creation, and, or, continuation of a system of justice in conflict zones for maintaining vital infrastructures conducive to social order during these episodes of assaulting change and upheaval.

Chapter 1

Understanding Contemporary Conflict

Conflict in the 21st century is very different from that of the mid 20th century. Mary Kaldor (2006) cites Clausewitz as saying that "war is a social activity."

Old wars, ending with WWII, had rules of engagement; conventions that warring countries were held accountable to -- even if it was a post-war accountability. After WWII, trials were held to examine the extent to which crimes against humanity had been committed, and to assign fault and penalty for those crimes. This marked a new facet of post war assessment in the pursuit of justice, perhaps because WWII was the first war in the era of modern man where incomprehensible crimes against humanity were committed on a deliberate and massive scale. War, however, as Kaldor points out, from the perspective of military strategists, politicians, and in execution of the war events of one nation-state military power against another, or others, remained much the same.

It was, however, WWII crimes against humanity that marked the merger of the war theory and execution of war inextricably with the pursuit of justice. This was very different than the reparations assessed against Germany following WWI. Now war was being assessed for criminal acts and behaviours arising out of hate and prejudice targeting civilian non-combatants. Wars in the past, especially those fought in pre-modern times, often involved civilian casualties, but the destruction of civilian non-combatants were not on the agenda of the highest levels of political and military strategists as it was during WWII. This type of war, targeting civilians, defied Clausewitz' description of war as, "an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfil our will."

Since WWII, the Allied nations led the world towards conflict resolution, and wisely understood that such resolution could only be negotiated and achieved in an environment of cease fire, halting hostilities, and bringing parties to the negotiating table where they could defend their "will." Bringing in teams of qualified and experienced mediators and negotiators to help sort through the warring factions' issues was seen as the only way to move humanity away from war, and away from civilian and economic devastation.

Unfortunately, negotiated cease fires between nation states at war, and civil wars too, have been violated by the interested parties, or even outside parties with goals of self-interest. Agitators who are not involved in the cease fire or peace negotiations often attempt to sabotage cease fires or the peace negotiation processes. Other unrelated parties take advantage of what are often times fragile conditions of cease fire, and illegally pursue opportunities of self-interest, including illegal weapons sales to guerrilla organizations.

The need to contain and mitigate the interference during cease fires and peace negotiations with a more focused operational approach from within the nation-states involved in war or civil war has evolved the UN peacekeeping mission personnel to include police advisers and civilian police forces whose role it is to train civilian police forces in investigation, security sector enforcement, disarming non-military and non-police persons, mines, and demobilization and reintegration processes.

From the earliest UN peacekeeping deployments, the mandate of those forces has been to prevent violence, to promote peace and peaceful resolution of conflicts, and not to be a part of the violence going on. This, in part, has been cited by a panel of experts as being unprepared for the violent situations the peacekeeping forces, military and police, were inserted into by way of their peacekeeping deployments, and, in most cases, post violent outbreak as opposed to pre-emptive pre-violent outbreaks.

With their abilities to defend limited by their deployment mandates, UN peacekeeping forces have too often found themselves in the midst of a violence being perpetrated against them and civilians with disastrous outcomes.

About this, the special panel convened by the Security Council commented:

"The Panel concurs that consent of local parties, impartiality and the use of force only in self-defence should remain the bedrock principles of peacekeeping. Experiences shows, however, that in the context of intra-State/transnational conflicts, consent may be manipulated in many ways. Impartiality for United Nations operations must therefore mean adherence to the principles of the Charter: where one party to a peace agreement clearly and incontrovertibly is its terms, continued equal treatment of all parties by the United Nations can in the best case result in ineffectiveness and in the worst way may amount to complicity with evil. No failure did more to damage the standing and credibility of United Nations peacekeeping in the 1990s than its reluctance to distinguish victim from aggressor."

This is a well worded, but succinct, observation and admonishment from the panel saying that United Nations peacekeeping forces are in effect neutered in making choices that might lead them to protect themselves and to protect non-combatant civilians. One case in point is the genocide of Tutsi Rwandans by Hutu Rwandans, during the Clinton Administration. During that event, as many as one million people died, and thousands more were left homeless, forced into refugee camps. The UN peacekeeping forces were prohibited from using force to protect the civilians, especially those forces representing the United States. The Clinton administration instructed its UN forces not to engage either side, not even to protect civilians, who were being brutally murdered without regard to gender or age.

Allan Thompson (2007), in his book, the Media and the Rwanda Genocide, said this:

"Anyone who tried to represent a government that was presiding over genocide -- in fact was perpetrating it -- should have been refused a place in the anywhere in the civilized world. Instead there was silence. For three months the British and U.S. administrations played down the crisis and tried to impede effective intervention by UN forces. There was even a reluctance to take the slightest… [END OF PREVIEW]

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