Civpol Certification: A Model for Recruitment and Training of Civilian Police Monitors
Latham, Elizabeth Jean, World Affairs
Warfare and crisis shatter social constraints to crime and violence.(1) The absence of social restraint is not conducive to rebuilding a society that has been ripped apart by conflict. So that people may begin rebuilding their communities, United Nations civilian policing (Civpol) missions help to restore the rule of law through monitoring, training, and reforming local law enforcement structures.
Current methods of recruiting and training Civpol monitors have proved to be inadequate. Because few nations have a surplus of police officers, there is a shortage of officers to staff monitoring missions. Also, professional standards of police vary drastically throughout the world, resulting in unqualified officers' being sent on Civpol missions. However, if all officers met the qualifications outlined by the United Nations, they would still lack some of the fundamental skills necessary to effectively perform duties assigned to Civpol. To alleviate current staffing problems, it is necessary to address both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of recruiting. Quantitatively, dependence on active duty police forces of UN member states must be eliminated. Qualitatively, a comprehensive training program must be developed. My framework for Civpol certification addresses both issues by offering training and certification in Civpol tasks, regardless of police experience. The certification model would make Civpol a more effective instrument of criminal justice reform while retaining its multinational and multidimensional aspects.
Civpol officers are assembled from law enforcement agencies in UN member states when the secretary general asks for police officers to carry out a UN Security Council resolution. Resolutions typically authorize intervention or assistance (peace operations) to nations where conflicts are occurring. Although traditional peacekeeping operations deal with monitoring cease-fire agreements between combatants, multifunctional peace operations attempt to rebuild the civil foundations of societies. Law and order are necessary to the rebuilding process. Because there is usually some internal security infrastructure in place, most Civpol mandates include monitoring local law enforcement to ensure compliance with human rights and other legal mandates; training local law enforcement officers; ensuring free and fair elections; supporting programs for reform or creation of local police forces; investigating alleged human rights violations; and assisting in institution building.(2)
Although Civpol was originally warranted because military personnel were not trained for day-to-day law enforcement activities, police are unable to stop massive civil unrest or to operate in warlike environments. There are some police tasks that are better accomplished by soldiers until the society becomes demilitarized. Police duties, especially in the initial post-conflict period, should focus on crime prevention and investigation, which will help local law enforcement agents gain the trust of the local population as well as restore law and order.
Civpol is deployed to encourage local police forces to return to the rule of law. As its task is often to demilitarize and reform local law enforcement agencies, it is important that Civpol should not be used by the United Nations to "augment its military forces."(4) The Civpol contingent is not mandated or trained to be a rapid exit strategy for military forces. Civpol is usually tasked only with ensuring compliance with international standards.(5) Although Civpol will work to establish law and order, its presence must not discourage the military from performing its task of ensuring a "secure environment in which the civilian components can work."(6) In other words, in the absence of a peaceful local authority, me military must retain primary responsibility for overall security. This includes tasks such as the arrest of criminals and riot control in areas of conflict.(7) However, detention and legal proceedings should be the responsibility of local officials with Civpol or other international organizations monitoring the proceedings.(8) This delineation of tasks will allow Civpol to concentrate on its mission of ensuring that local law enforcement officers "carry out their tasks with full respect for universally accepted human rights and criminal justice standards."(9)
In the 1990s, UN peacekeeping operations became more multidimensional, involving political and social institution building, including development of grass-roots democratic institutions, monitoring civilian police, and resettlement of displaced persons.(10) Civpol officers provide training and support for a fair criminal justice system.(11) Often a police structure answerable to the people, not to the regime, is the best authority to uphold civil institutions and enforce respect for individual rights. Because the international community recognizes that "the creation of an effective, professional and accountable police force can be a significant factor in securing people's trust in the peace process and the government," Civpol contingents are now commonplace in UN peace operations.(12) The military provision of a secure area in which Civpol may operate results in stronger, more effective local police structures. Such structures allow the military components of peace operations to pull out. This is shown by the fact that the last two missions in Haiti allowed for substantially more Civpol officers than military contingents.(13) Although Civpol monitors may be required for several years after the initial United Nations intervention, they are much less disruptive, both physically and psychologically, to the local society and infrastructure than their military counterparts.(14)
DEFINING THE PROBLEM
Although Civpol has made important contributions to establishing peace in many missions, Civpol mandates outstrip the availability of officers. For example, the missions in East Timor, Sierra Leone, and Kosovo are currently staffed at 68 percent, 18 percent, and 66 percent of authorized capacity respectively.(15) Thus, as long as UN Civpol operations remain dependent on men and women recruited from active police forces, there will be a shortage of officers. Civilian police officers' "first priority, is and will always remain the domestic policing needs of the [home] country."(16) As one author put it,
Every police officer removed from the street of any city or town is removed from active engagement. In the military, this would be the equivalent of taking soldiers from the battlefield in the midst of an engagement and sending them elsewhere. Our towns and cities are our battlefields, and police officers are our soldiers. We simply do not have personnel who are not engaged. The transfer of any personnel to foreign duty is a diminution of effort.(17)
There are problems of both skills and attitudes. The minimum skills currently required for Civpol officers include a minimum of five years of community policing experience; proficiency in the working language of the mission; and ability to drive four-by-four vehicles.(18) In the past, many nations have ignored these minimum standards.(19) Although the UN has instituted Selection Assistance Teams (SATs) to help ensure that member states do not send officers without minimum English and driving abilities, many member states send candidates who do not meet these minimum requirements. Because monitoring and reforming law enforcement structures in war-ravaged nations requires different skills than daily civilian policing, even when officers assigned to Civpol meet or exceed the UN requirements, there is some mismatch between those skills and the requirements of civilian police monitoring. For example, a former UNPROFOR Civpol commissioner related the following:
[A] Canadian police officer took us through a prison, so I walked through the prison, 3 or 4 of us walked through the prison in groups, and when I looked ... we went through the cells on either side, it was long and narrow. On one side just bars, no cells, no privacy. Four women on this side, the men on the other side. They can reach and talk to each other. There's a woman on the can. I walked further up and here were 6 people who'd been just picked up for drugs--drug trafficking. Two ten year old kids sitting on the bottom bunk in with them. So I didn't say anything until we got out and he said "We're really proud of this, we come visit everyday...." And I said "Do you see anything wrong with this?" And I said "In your own country, would you allow males and females and little children to be together?" Well, he said we give allowances. So then I referred him to the protection of juveniles, under the international law. I had never met him before. Now, here is a police officer from Canada, from the RCMP, who didn't recognize it.(20) FIGURE 1. CivPol Deployments, April 2000 East Timor Sierra Leone Kosovo Authorized 1,640 60 4,718 Deployed 1,113 11 3,132 Chart prepared by author from data posted on UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations web site (http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko) on 29 April 2000. Note: Table made from bar graph.
In this instance, human rights violations were inadvertently encouraged rather than corrected. To avoid such situations, it is necessary to offer substantial training in human rights and international policing procedures to Civpol monitors regardless of their civilian policing experience.
Second, the go-out-and-get-it-done attitude characteristic of many police does always not fit well with the passive functions Civpol officers perform. Therefore, many officers become frustrated with the limitations of their Civpol work.(21) For …
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Publication information: Article title: Civpol Certification: A Model for Recruitment and Training of Civilian Police Monitors. Contributors: Latham, Elizabeth Jean - Author. Magazine title: World Affairs. Volume: 163. Issue: 4 Publication date: Spring 2001. Page number: 192. © 1999 Heldref Publications. COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group.
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