SINGAPORE – An INTERPOL partnership with the United Nations has seen more than 60 ministers from around the world back a plan to bring the enhanced role of police in peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations to the forefront of the international security agenda.
Meeting under the auspices of INTERPOL’s 78th General Assembly, foreign, justice and home affairs ministers joined senior police officials from 153 countries in endorsing a declaration that will see INTERPOL, the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and participating governments establish a plan of action to promote international police peacekeeping as an essential counterpart to the military in helping re-establish the rule of law and rebuild society.
Addressing the ministers and senior police officials, the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, said that police officers were taking on growing responsibilities in international peacekeeping.
“In our globalised world, disorder or worse breakdown of political authority in one country threatens regional and international security. When we commit police peacekeepers to rebuild failed states, promote good governance and foster sustainable peace, we are also contributing to our own security,” said the Prime Minister.
INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble emphasized how in conflict areas security concerns quickly moved from being war-related to organized crime-related. He described the partnership with UN as ‘an alliance of all nations’ that would commit INTERPOL to deliver international police expertise and frontline access to its global resources in countries suffering or recovering from conflicts, to help them build peace and combat transnational crime.
“If UN peacekeepers assigned to post conflict zones or fragile states are asked to perform police-like functions and to combat transnational crime, then more peacekeepers should come from the ranks of police and be given access to INTERPOL’s global databases,” said Secretary General Noble.
“INTERPOL can provide deployed UN police peacekeepers with access to the world’s only secure global police communications system; global databases including names of criminals, fingerprints, DNA profiles, stolen passports, and stolen vehicles; and specialized investigative support in key crime areas, including fugitives, drugs, terrorism, trafficking in human beings and corruption. These make INTERPOL an essential partner for police peacekeepers.
“Terrorists and organized criminals take advantage of the absence of law and exploit countries with weak institutions as safe havens for their criminal activities, promoting radicalizing individuals, feeding corruption, engendering further instability, and threatening well beyond that country’s borders,” added the head of INTERPOL.
The UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy, said that the recognition of ‘a clear link between crime and conflict’ and the fact that serious and organized crime was prevalent in these zones underlined the need for greater co-operation with INTERPOL.
“Criminal elements are increasingly fuelling wars by providing belligerents with the resources to finance their expensive military activities. They undermine the rule of law and threaten human security. Past conflicts have clearly shown that conflicts that are not fed by criminal profits tend to end sooner,” said Mr Le Roy.
The Declaration endorsed today at the ministerial gathering will include the drafting of an Action Plan in the coming 12 months, as part of a process that will lead to the world’s first heads of state and government summit on the role of international policing in peacekeeping.