Project on Restoring the Rule of Law

Research Pages

Project on Restoring the Rule of Law

The Future of Peace Operations Program engages with the United Nations and with governments, international organizations and NGOs committed to improving peace operations. The Project on Restoring the Rule of Law focuses on those components of UN peace operations that work with host state police, courts and correctional institutions. In 2013, project work includes assessing the impact of those components and building a visual model of peacekeeping and peacebuilding that starts from a rule of law rather than military perspective. The project also continues to support the UN Police Division in developing international police peacekeeping doctrine.

Current Research Areas

UN Global Focal Point For Police, Justice And Corrections

The United Nations (UN) Global Focal Point on Police, Justice and Corrections (GFP) is the most recent initiative in a decade of efforts to improve the coherence and quality of the UN’s rule of law support to crisis- and conflict-affected countries. Its aim is to provide better police, justice and corrections (PJC) services from UN Headquarters to UN peacekeeping missions, special political missions and non-mission settings. Instead of establishing another institution, task force, coordination group or lead entity, the GFP innovatively focuses on creating more integrated ways of working among two key UN actors, namely the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and with the broader UN system. In this way, the GFP could be considered as a business improvement initiative, in which the two core GFP partners have each convened a portion of their resources to deliver better PJC services together to the field, while keeping the door open for other UN actors to enter their joint venture.

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Police In UN Peacekeeping: Improving Selection, Recruitment, And Deployment

Achieving more rapid and adaptive deployment of UN police requires finding enough of the right sorts of expertise, with attention to gender balance; adapting police from partly democratic or autocratic states to the needs of democratic policing; and maintaining quality control in selection and recruitment.

Challenges to performance once UN police are deployed include retaining institutional memory and both the trust and respect of local counterparts despite  frequent rotations of personnel; developing intelligence-led policing; dispelling the notion that police are substitutes for troops in unstable settings; and ensuring discipline within UNPOL ranks.

Recommendations include reducing UN reliance on globally recruited ‘formed police units’ (FPUs), over 50 of which serve in UN operations, making up half of all UN police peacekeepers. Too often deployed with minimal training and third-party equipment, their time in mission also tends to be relatively short. Arrangements should instead be made with the best FPU contributors to earmark a handful of higher-capacity FPUs for deployment in the first year of new UN missions. In turn, the UN should have training and advisory capacity to develop locally recruited constabulary units under UN mission command to replace foreign FPUs after the mission’s first year. These UN public order police should be eligible, by agreement with the host state, for later recruitment into its own police services. Using this approach, the UN would have higher quality police units at the start of its missions and its investments in police training and equipment would land and remain in the host state.

Photo credit: United Nations Photo via flickr

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

Record numbers of personnel are being sent into peace operations of growing complexity in environments where critical government functions, including criminal justice, have decayed or collapsed. Over the last decade or so, the UN Security Council has given complex UN peace operations broad mandates in police development, followed by mandates to help restore justice systems and provide advisory support to national prison systems. UN efforts to restore those functions have met limited success, partly owing to resource constraints but mostly due to outsiders' limited ability to change the fundamentals of governance in conflict-affected states. In 2011, the project responded to a request from the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions (OROLSI) in the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations to study the impact that police, justice and corrections components in UN peace operations have on the people and practices of the corresponding institutions of the host state. The resulting report, Understanding Impact of Police, Justice and Corrections Components in UN Peace Operations, can be downloaded here. The study drew upon nine mission case studies developed for OROLSI, as well as more than 200 hundred field interviews, to substantiate the study's analysis and conclusions. FOPO director Bill Durch presented the study's findings to the 4th UN International Corrections Conference in Berlin; the presentation can be downloaded here

Towards Visual Models of Peace Support

UN peace support operations deploy alongside state and multilateral aid providers and NGOs to help implement peace accords among host state parties in power, parties out of power, and parties sharing power. In missions' areas of operation, stability may vary over time, between different parts of the country and across the larger regional neighborhood. Operations deploy into variable terrains, climates, infrastructural conditions and access to resources, and into societies with varying political histories, social norms and customary practices. It is difficult to grasp from text-based descriptions how these many elements interact to promote or inhibit an operation's work or to see whether, much less how, an operation is contributing to consolidation of peace. Together these elements constitute a set of complex systems that must in some fashion be modeled to be followed, let alone understood.

The project seeks to map the ‘ecology' of peacekeeping and peacebuilding to promote shared, integrated views of mission status within the mission and at Headquarters; provide an interactive tool for training and familiarizing new mission personnel; and tracking mission goal attainment as well as flagging unanticipated knock-on effects of mission actions. In 2013, the project will develop conceptual models of conflict, peacebuilding and the post-conflict environment, beginning with rule of law, focusing on two current mission areas.

Support for Development of UN Police Strategic Guidance

The project supported the development of new guidance for UN Formed Police Units in peace operations (2008-09); development of a UN-INTERPOL Action Plan for International Police Peacekeeping (2009-10); and development of a Strategic Guidance Framework for individual police officers in UN operations (2010-present).

Previous work includes studies on: