[Dateline: New York | Author: DPKO]
A meeting between INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble and UN Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon took place on Monday, 23 March 2009.
While at UN Headquarters, Mr. Noble briefed 33 permanent representatives on INTERPOL's current activities and had talks with high-ranking officials from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO).
The International Criminal Police Organization, INTERPOL, is the world’s largest international police organization, with 187 member countries.
Created in 1923, it facilitates cross-border police co-operation, and supports and assists all organizations, authorities and services whose mission is to prevent or combat international crime.
INTERPOL Secretary General Mr. Noble and UN Police Adviser Mr. Andrew Hughes jointly briefed 33 permanent representatives on the forthcoming INTERPOL General Assembly on 'The Role of International Policing in Building Sustainable Security' and a Ministerial-level meeting and outcome declaration on the same theme that will be held in Singapore in October 2009.
In opening the briefing, the Secretary-General said that in recent years, world leaders and prominent political figures have increasingly recognized the pivotal role that police play in consolidating peace and building sustainable security and had underlined the need to complement military forces with police personnel in international peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations. This is best illustrated by a massive growth in UN police deployment from only 2,400 in March 1999 to 10,629 ten years later.
"Police-related tasks in peace operations have grown consistently more complex over the past decade from simple 'observe, monitor and report' to 'executive operational policing’ to ‘reform, restructuring and rebuilding' of police institutions and services in post-conflict environments. This has in turn led to a critical need for specialist police officers," highlighted Mr. BAN, who invited Member States to redouble their efforts to nominate qualified female police officers as this would boost the confidence and trust placed in the UN peace operations by displaced and victimized women and children.
"Criminal activities such as drug and arms trafficking fuel wars by providing belligerents with the resources to finance their expensive military activities. Past conflicts have clearly shown that conflicts that are not fed by criminal profits tend to end sooner”, reiterated Police Adviser Andrew Hughes, who heads DPKO's Police Division, and added that “countries recovering from conflict today require a greater police deployment effort by the international community for the benefit of national, regional, and global security. This is particularly acute when the consequences of conflicts threaten regional and international stability."
As reported by various UN agencies, organized crime and drug trafficking pose a major threat to the peace, security and sustainable development of the sub–region of West Africa. Undermining the rule of law and threatening human security, criminal elements are increasingly using the region as a transit route for narcotics bound for Europe from Latin America. Recognizing this as a spoiler to peace missions, DPKO initiated working level discussions with INTERPOL, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) on the need for international policing cooperation with regional oversight.
In a parallel approach, in October 2008 the Ministerial Conference in Cape Verde was organized by the Economic Community of the West African States (ECOWAS) and a political declaration was adopted as well as a Regional Action Plan to fight against drug trafficking. Together with UNODC, UNOWA, and INTERPOL, DPKO has been identified as a desired implementing partner to the Action Plan.
In responding to this initiative and with the objective to provide technical assistance and to build national capacity to more effectively prevent and combat organized crime and drug trafficking, DPKO, INTERPOL, UNODC, Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and UNOWA have formed the West Africa Coast Initiative, a partnership to help implement the ECOWAS Action Plan.
In his meeting with Mr. Noble, the Secretary-General fully endorsed INTERPOL’s intention to place issues relating to international police peacekeeping at the very heart of its annual General Assembly, since, according to his words “professional policing is crucial to engendering both peace and justice.” He welcomed INTERPOL’s collaborative approach towards the UN in this matter and in its attempt to raise the issue of international police peacekeeping at the highest political decision-making level via the ministerial meeting.
During their meeting, Mr. BAN and Mr. Noble also discussed the possibilities for the establishment of a framework for broader co-operation between the two Organizations in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice in respect of the implementation of the mandated responsibilities of peacekeeping operations or special political missions managed by DPKO.
This includes co-operation in relation to responsibilities pertaining to interim law enforcement, security support to national police and other law enforcement agencies and support for the development of national police and other law enforcement agencies.
The Secretary-General supported the partnership formed between INTERPOL and the UN family (DPKO, DPA-UNOWA, UNODC) in order to assist with the implementation of the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan and he expressed his trust that this experience would also prove valuable for other countries and regions at risk from drug trafficking and other serious organized crime.
The Secretary-General highlighted that, from its side, "the UN will raise awareness, mobilize political support, coordinate and provide advisory services, deliver specialized police and law enforcement training and provide guidance and expertise on police matters through its four peace operations in the region (UNOCI, UNMIL, UNIPSIL, UNOGBIS)", adding that he "will recommend to the Security Council to establish a monitoring mechanism on the implementation of ECOWAS Plan of Action and will strongly urge all UN Member States, development partners and the donor community to mobilize the necessary financial resources in support of this much needed initiative."