60 Years of UN Police; 60 Years of Resilience

Nov 6, 2020

By Naomi Belay

Members of the Nigerian Police detachment serving with the United Nations Force in the Congo, photographed as their train pulls out from the station in Leopoldville. Some one hundred men of the detachment are en route to Matadi to assume duties in connection with the re-opening of that port for ONUC supplies, June 1961.

Although first suggested by the former United Nations Secretary-General Trygve Lie in 1948, the official emergence of the United Nations Police (UNPOL) was in 1960 following the first deployment of UN Police officers to the United Nations Operation in the Congo (ONUC). Since this genesis 60 years ago, UN Police has proven itself to be a critical and valuable component in supporting the navigation towards peace.

Today, nearly 9,000 UN Police officers, of about 11,000 total authorized, are deployed in 18 peace operations throughout the world, diligently working to diffuse the effects of conflict and violence on vulnerable communities and striving to foster global peace and security. Their core responsibilities include assistance to host-State police through operational support and capacity-building, but in some missions, UNPOL officers also act as interim law enforcement, directly responsible for all policing functions and the maintenance of law and order.

This week, as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Police, we acknowledge the immense service and sacrifice made by UN Police officers, everywhere. With the intention of honouring their lasting global contributions, this photo essay pays homage to the long history of the UN Police and captures historic moments of poignancy, humanity and unity along the path towards peace.

Street scene in Stanleyville, where an ONUC Nigerian Police Officer is on duty together with the local police force, April 1963.
Nigerian police officers drill a contingent of Congolese recruits and local policemen in Bukavu, May 1963.
Members of the Nigerian Police detachment of the United Nations Force in the Congo (ONUC) photographed at the railroad station in this city as they await the arrival of the train taking them to Matadi, their new duty station, June 1961.
The National Police School of Matete was reorganized in 1964 to serve as a modern training centre for qualified law-enforcement candidates. The institution turned out 230 graduates — comprising policemen, policewomen, and police officers — and received support from the United Nations and bilateral aid programmes, March 1966.
Members of the Austrian Civilian Police check a vehicle with a Cypriot Policeman at the checkpoint of a UN NIC-KYRENA Convoy in Nicosia, April 1973.

The primary mission of UN Police is to enhance international peace and security by supporting Member States in conflict, post-conflict and other crisis situations. To this end, UNPOL provides operational support to host-State counterparts by protecting civilians; helping to facilitate secure elections; investigating incidents of sexual and gender-based violence; promoting environmental sustainability; and preventing and addressing serious organized crime and violent extremism.

UN Police reinforces and re-establishes security through patrolling, community-oriented policing, advising domestic police services, increasing compliance with international human rights standards, and restoring and promoting public safety and the rule of law.

Military and police peacekeepers of MINUSCA patrol the Muslim enclave of PK5 in Bangui, Central African Republic, October 2017.
A member of a Senegalese Formed Police Unit serving with MINUSMA participates in a training on maintaining and restoring public order at the Police Academy in Bamako, Mali, June 2018.
Luis Miguel Carrilho, Police Commissioner of MINUSCA (now UN Police Advisor), patrols the streets of Bangui with the Rwandan Battalion. He engaged with community members to hear their concerns about security in their districts, Central African Republic, November 2014.
155 MINUSCA police peacekeepers are stationed in Bouar, Central African Republic. They conduct daily patrols in the city to ensure general security, maintain order and offer protection of civilians, especially the most vulnerable. They also provide technical and professional assistance to the Internal Security Forces through collocation, August 2018.
Members of the Timorese National Police officers perform a tactical demonstration exercise during a ceremony following a successful completion of a three-week training course facilitated by the UN Police, August 2008.
United Nations Police officer of the United Nations Mission in Timor-Leste engages villagers while on patrol, September 2007.
Senegalese UN Police officers get ready for their daily patrol on the streets of Gao, Mali, August 2013.
MINUSMA provides training on crowd control for the Malian police force, June 2013.
Members of Mali’s National Guard and Police attend a crowd control training conducted by MINUSMA’s UN Police, July 2014.
A Rwandan peacekeeper from the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) Formed Police Unit speaks to children while patrolling the streets of Gao in northern Mali, May 2014.
Members of the Formed Police Unit from Jordan serving with the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti on a joint patrol with the Haitian National Police and other UN Police based in Gonaïves, November 2018.
Members of the Pakistan Formed Police Unit, of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), stand in line to receive medals of recognition for their contribution to the efforts of the mission, August 2007.
A Rwandan peacekeeper of MINUSMA speaks to children while patrolling the streets of Gao in northern Mali, May 2014.

In accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, which recognizes the importance of women’s participation in United Nations field-based operations, the UN Police Division has undertaken several measures to enhance the representation of women in the police. UNPOL remains committed to prioritizing the recruitment, deployment and retention of women police officers in peacekeeping operations at all levels.

The 33rd class of police officers of the Liberian National Police, supported by UNPOL, participate in a graduation ceremony, January 2009.
South Sudanese Police Cadets, who received training from the UN Police, take oath during their graduation ceremony at the Juba Football Stadium, September 2012.
10 Egyptian policewomen will join the police ranks of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), August 2019.
Secretary-General António Guterres meets with UN Police Officers and Major Seynabou Diouf, the 2019 United Nations Woman Police Officer of the Year, November 2019.
Women officers of the Formed Police Unit of the Indian contingent of the United Nations Mission in Liberia participate in a medal parade held in honour of their service, November 2008.

Women police officers play a critical role in promoting peace and security.

In both conflict and post-conflict situations, where sexual and gender-based violence is often rampant, survivors are more likely to approach women police officers, further emphasizing the critical role of women police officers in peace operations.

Gladys Ngwepekeum Nkeh, UN Police officer from Cameroon serving with MINUSCA, conducts a class on gender violence at a school in Bangui,Central African Republic, October 2017.
An UNPOL officer greets a woman and her baby while on patrol in Timbuktu, Mali, March 2017.
UNAMID Members from Ghana, Indonesia and Nigeria conduct their daily patrols to monitor the security situation in the Zamzam camp of the Internally Displaced Persons and to discuss the needs or problems facing the residents of the camp, Darfur, April 2009.
UNPOL officer visits internally displaced persons living in the Jardim Camp in Timor-Leste, December 2007.
United Nations Police officers do frequent patrols in Timbuktu to secure the city against threats of terrorism and banditry, Mali, March 2017.
Unaisi Lutu Vumi Waga, UNMISS Police Commissioner, talks to a young girl during a patrol of the streets of Juba, South Sudan, May 2018.

Despite the global challenges that have accompanied the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN Police continues to implement its mandate, and provides crucial support to address the unprecedented needs of authorities and communities in host States.

UNPOL officer of MONUSCO hands facemasks to local police in Goma to prevent the spread of COVID-19, D.R. Congo, April 2020.
MONUSCO Police donate personal protective equipment, including face masks and hand sanitizer, to the provincial police commissariat of the Congolese National Police in South Kivu, D.R. Congo, May 2020.
MONUSCO Police, together with the Congolese National Police, train 61 road traffic police officers in North Kivu on preventive measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, D.R. Congo, May 2020.
UNMISS donates COVID-19 personal protection equipment to South Sudanese police, July 2020.

In spite of these growing challenges, the UN Police Division strives to provide effective, efficient, representative, responsive and accountable police services that support and protect the communities they serve.

Happy 60th Birthday, UN Police!

Malaysian police officers, formerly serving with the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), say goodbye as they board their flight home to Dili, November 2012.
Members of the United Nations Police Gender Child and Vulnerable Persons Protection (GCVPP) Unit of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) visit the temporary learning space in Protection of Civilians Site to play games with the children who attend school there, July 2015.
The UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) holds a medal parade for 139 members of the Bangladesh Formed Police Unit and 59 UN Police Officers serving with the Mission, April 2018.
Ann-Marie Orler, Director of the Police Division in the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, delivers toys to the children of Turba Primary School, North Darfur, February 2012.
Nepalese colour guards hold the flags of Liberia, the United Nations and Nepal at a medal parade at the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) honoring the Nepalese Formed Police Unit and Nepalese Military Police forces based at Freeport in Monrovia, Liberia, January 2013.
Recruits for the South Sudan Police Service at the John Gurang Unified Memorial Police Training Academy in Rajaf, supported by the UN Police, South Sudan, October 2010.

Naomi Belay is an intern in the Digital Communications Team at UN Peacekeeping.

60 Years of UN Police; 60 Years of Resilience was originally published in We The Peoples on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.