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Top UN Rule of Law officials outline goals of new Office; highlight increased police role

2 October 2007 Bringing all aspects of United Nations support for rule of law – the police, the judiciary and corrections – under the authority of one office not only helps improve efficiency but also ties in with the world body’s longer term goal of building sustainability in a nation’s rule of law sector, the two senior UN officials responsible for this area said today.

Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions Dmitry Titov, who heads the Office of the same name, outlined the goals and structure of the new pillar, while Police Adviser Andrew Hughes highlighted the challenges facing the Police Division at a time of unprecedented demand for peacekeepers in general and global policing in particular.

“The goal of this new pillar, which is part of the Secretary-General’s wider reform of UN peacekeeping to cope with the growing global demand, is to develop an holistic approach to the rule of law by incorporating all aspects within a coherent framework that includes the police, the judiciary and corrections. It also demonstrates the determination of the Secretary-General to implement reforms towards results-oriented management,” Mr. Titov told the UN News Service.

“The Office of the Rule of Law and Security Institutions is responsible for five areas: the Police Division, the Criminal Law and Judicial Advisory Section, the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Section, the Security Sector Reform Section and the Mine Action Service.”

“All these functions are at the core of UN efforts to support the sustainable reform of security in post-conflict countries and this new Office will provide a coherent, integrated framework for providing this. The Office will also collaborate and enhance our partnerships with all relevant non-UN actors, including regional organizations and bilateral donors, and serve as a global focal point for rule of law issues,” added Mr. Titov.

“The Office will work under the overall guidance of the Under-Secretary-General in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and in close co-operation with the Office of Operations and the Department of Field Support. We will apply a forward-looking approach to Security Institutions capacity-building.”

“Among our priorities will be establishing an efficient, dynamic and integrated Headquarters team and improving the management processes so we are able to provide the strong support needed by our field operations. We will also concentrate on generating UN doctrine and creating special international networks in relevant areas,” said Mr. Titov.

Police Adviser Andrew Hughes said the new rule of law pillar, which formally came into operation on 1 July, was a very positive initiative and one that represented a natural structure for the Police Division to operate within.

“The new structural arrangements represent an opportunity for us to work in our natural habitat as police, which is in the law and justice sector. This is what police around the world do on a day-to-day basis in any country… we work with the courts, we work with prisons, we work with prosecutors, we work with public defenders and we work with NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and human rights, and civil society and so on.”

“What we have to do is to inform and educate the broader police community that UN policing now is very much aligned with what police are doing around the world anyway,” said Mr. Hughes, highlighting also the increasing capacity-building role that UN Police (UNPOL) officers are playing in peacekeeping missions.

This changing role for UNPOL officers, away from the more traditional monitoring and observing functions, highlights the need for Member States to put forward quality candidates, stressed the Police Adviser, listing the benefits to all of having experienced police officers performing UN service.

“The quicker we can get the job done and the more effective we can get the job done, the quicker we can hand over to local authorities and responsibly exit. The weaker our presence is on the ground, in terms of the experience and ability of the officers, the longer it’s going to take.”

“When someone goes on a mission they learn and they interact. From my own experiences I’ve seen officers come back and they’re much more worldly in their thinking… They come back with a greater suite of options to problem solving in their own country. And also a police peacekeeping mission will often present the individual officers with opportunities to extend themselves,” said Mr. Hughes.

Mr. Titov, a veteran diplomat, has worked in peacekeeping for the UN since joining the world body in 1991. Before taking up his current post he was the Director of the Africa Division in DPKO from 1998, during which time he helped set up all new peacekeeping missions on the continent and also led the UN team in negotiations to set up the joint mission for Darfur.

Mr. Hughes has over 30 years experience as a police officer, including overseeing Australian contributions to UN peacekeeping operations in Timor-Leste and Cyprus. Before taking up the post of Police Adviser, he was the Interim Chief Police Officer in the Australian Capital Territory and prior to that, the Commissioner of the Fiji Police from 2003-2006.

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