Michelle Ker

Policy and Research Papers

Understanding Impact of Police, Justice and Corrections Components in UN Peace Operations

Over the last decade or so, the UN Security Council gave complex UN peace operations broader mandates in police development, followed by mandates to help restore criminal justice systems and eventually for advisory support to national prison systems. The UN's rule of law community recognizes that an emphasis on quality of people and plans, what the UN calls a "capability-based approach," has to replace a quantity-based approach to meeting the requirements of such mandates.

The Stimson Center's Future of Peace Operations Program responded to a request from the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions (OROLSI) in DPKO, coordinating with its Police Division and Criminal Law and Judicial Advisory Service (CLJAS), to study the effects, or more specifically, the impact that police, justice and corrections components in UN peace operations have on the areas in which they work.

The study was set up to search for "minimum essential tasks" - those that 1) always seem needed in comparable ways across missions; and 2) seem to consistently have the desired effects on the host country's approach to police, justice and corrections. It found that while certain tasks may always be needed, their implementation is often dependent on characteristics of a mission's operational environment over which the mission cannot exert direct control. Missions face perhaps irresolvable dilemmas in being asked to deploy quickly into places where politics can prevent the quick actions that peacebuilding precepts dictate, or with resources inadequate to substitute for capacities that government lacks. That is, they often have resources sufficient to offer some security and stability but not sufficient for very much else. The study identifies areas where the imprints left by the police, justice and corrections components of UN missions are larger than those of other players and offers recommendations for those components.

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