posted on Wed 12 Dec 2018 4:31 PM
Resolution on Police, Justice and Corrections

Tomorrow (13 December), the Council is set to adopt a resolution drafted by the Netherlands and Côte d’Ivoire on the rule of law in the context of peace operations, on “strengthening support to police, justice and corrections areas in peacekeeping operations and special political missions”. The draft resolution aims to promote better coherence between various UN actors working on rule of law, justice and corrections institutions in peacekeeping operations and in special political missions. The process began with early discussions with Council members and the UN Secretariat in the middle of the year, with a first meeting in mid-October. This was followed by revised drafts and further negotiations, both of the entire Council and bilaterally, in November and early December. While most members were open to the substance of the draft resolution, some had reservations that needed to be accommodated before they could agree to the draft text.

It seems that the original draft addressed matters of rule of law and justice in a broader context and some members, including China and Russia, felt that the draft resolution should address these issues only in the context of peacekeeping operations and special political missions. As a result, the drafters included specific references to peacekeeping operations and special political missions in order to make clear that the draft resolution was not going beyond the Council’s mandate.

Initially China and Russia were also of the view that if the Council were to adopt a text on this matter, it should be a presidential statement rather than a resolution which, they believed placed too much emphasis on the topic. However, following bilateral discussions with the drafters and in light of the support of the other thirteen members for a draft resolution, China and Russia accepted that these issues could be addressed in a draft resolution.

In terms of its substance, the draft resolution underscores the importance of integrating UN support to police, justice and corrections into the mandates of peacekeeping operations and special political missions as assisting host states in the restoration of these functions helps attain the goals of UN peace operations. The draft also stresses the importance of addressing the root causes of each conflict, including strengthening the rule of law at national and international levels. In addition, it calls on the Secretary-General to ensure that in planning UN peacekeeping and special political missions with police, justice and corrections mandates, there be a “thorough analysis of the context, capacities and needs of the host-states”, thus highlighting the importance of a context-specific approach in mandating.

In the context of efforts to ensure maximum effectiveness and efficiency of peacekeeping operations and special political missions, it requests the Secretary-General to enhance the coherence, performance and effectiveness of UN assistance to police, justice and corrections institutions in these missions, and to ensure coherence between the UN Country Team (UNCT) and other UN actors. In addition, the draft contains a request for the Secretary-General to ensure timely planning and benchmarks for mission transitions and to centralise peacekeeping performance data, which should include police, justice and corrections institutions, in order to improve the analytics and evaluation of mission operations, based on clear and well-identified benchmarks. It also requests the Secretary-General to examine ways to strengthen UN assistance to police, justice and corrections institutions in host countries and submit recommendations to the Council, taking into account the challenging, complex and evolving nature of current conflicts.

An area of concern arose over a paragraph proposed by the US, which was taken from resolution 2360 on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The paragraph included language on member states protecting their populations with respect for the rule of law, human rights and international humanitarian law, including protection from crimes against humanity and war crimes. Some Council members wanted to add the crime of genocide to this paragraph. However, China’s overall perspective was that this paragraph was context-specific and should not be included in a thematic resolution. At the end, the paragraph was deleted.

Other contentious issues were the inclusion of a request in the earlier drafts for the Secretary-General to produce a report on the implementation of the resolution in one year, and that the Council should remain seized of the matter. Russia suggested a longer timeframe while China took the view that such reporting could be done within relevant peacekeeping and peacebuilding reports. After further consideration, China’s view was accepted as some members felt that its proposed approach might allow for better follow-up on the implementation of the resolution than one standalone report.

Russia also objected to any reference to the Declaration of Shared Commitments on UN Peacekeeping Operations recently endorsed by 151 member states. Previous versions of the draft resolution had welcomed “the political commitments made by Member States, including in the Declaration of Shared Commitments, to continue to strengthen the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations, amongst others through joint platforms”. Due to Russia’s position, however, the final draft omits any reference to the Declaration; some Council members felt that it was not worth insisting on this reference, as it was not a central point of the resolution. In addition, a draft text on mandating which is currently being negotiated, is expected to refer to the Declaration.

Finally, Russia also opposed additional references to the Global Focal Point (GFP), set up by the Secretary-General in 2012 in order to ensure a system-wide rule of law response in relevant countries. The draft stresses the importance of the GFP and acknowledges that joint planning and delivery of assistance to police, justice and corrections through the GFP have created greater effectiveness and efficiencies in peacekeeping operations and special political missions.  However, Russia was not willing to include additional language, suggested by Sweden, encouraging member states and UN entities to support the GFP.

Overall, it appears that the partnership between Côte d’Ivoire and the Netherlands was an important element in getting agreement on this resolution. The combination of the Netherlands’ knowledge of rule of law issues and Côte d’Ivoire’s experiencing first-hand the importance of the areas of police, justice and corrections in peace operations in a conflict situation was instrumental in producing a draft text that all members could agree on.