Ideas Notes 2030: Strategic Reflections on the Future of UN Policing

Ideas Notes 2030: Strategic Reflections on the Future of UN Policing
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Ideas Notes 2030: Strategic Reflections on the Future of UN Policing

By Thomas Greminger and Annika Hilding Norberg


Since the 1960’s, UN police has provided a critical capability in the evolving tool-box of UN peace operations. UN policing, pioneered and supported in its development by UN Member States, has grown into a people-centred, field focused instrument in the service of peace. Over the years and until recently, the number of UNPOL incrementally increased allowing wider scope and greater impact.

However, as the world is increasingly struggling with accelerating fragmentation, polarization, and securitization, the ability of peace operations, including UN Police, to deliver on the ambitious mandates authorized by UN Member States, has become more difficult. The context and the nature of violent conflict is changing. The challenges to individuals and communities, and to national, regional and international peace, security and development, are significant and mounting. The outbreak of war in the Middle East, the invasion of Ukraine, rising instability across the African continent, the abandonment of rights for women and girls in Afghanistan, and the destructive consequences of climate change for people and planet, are only a few of the current crises that are having a profound impact
on all matters of peace and security far beyond the regions concerned.

Mobilizing a response, the United Nations Secretary-General’s vision for a New Agenda for Peace was published in July 2023 to inform the preparations for a Summit of the Future to be held in September 2024. It called for a strategic reflection on the challenges and achievements, limitations and achievements of UN peace operations. A zero draft of the Pact for the Future took a somewhat similar approach by calling for Member States to commit to undertaking an inclusive, comprehensive reflection on the future of peace operations, including peacekeeping. It also requested “the Secretary–General to continue to develop new models of peace operations that can respond to the evolving nature of conflict in traditional and new domains, while devising transition and exit strategies.”

To this end, and as the world enters a new era, how can UN Policing best be adapted, refined, strengthened and leveraged to ensure its full potential as a key function and tool in a spectrum of UN peace and security engagements, missions and operations? Indeed, building on progress made through the Action for Peacekeeping Plus initiative, this collection of ideas notes is intended to contribute to the larger international strategic reflections on the future of UN policing. The ideas notes explore the possible and desirable future of United Nations policing.


Partners and Contributors: This is a compilation of Ideas Notes on the Future of UN Policing written in the context of the New Agenda for Peace and in support of the preparations for the Summit of the Future. 25 leading scholars and practitioners from a global range of universities, think tanks, training centres, departments and ministries, governmental and non-governmental, has come together and are submitting the present complimentary perspectives and ideas intended to inform ongoing reflections on how to strengthen UN Policing to be optimally fit for the future. Contributing authors are introduced and presented at the beginning of each Idea Note / chapter.

Ambassador Thomas Greminger has been the Executive Director of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) since 1 May 2021. Previously, he served as Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) from July 2017 until July 2020. He served as Deputy Director General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs from 2015 to 2017 and as the Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the OSCE, the United Nations and the International Organisations in Vienna from 2010 to 2015. Between 1994 and 2010, he served in various and numerous positions within the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, in Bern and abroad. Ambassador Greminger holds a PhD in History from the University of Zurich, and is a Lieutenant Colonel GS (company and battalion commander of infantry unit of the Swiss Armed Forces; G6 and Deputy Chief of Staff of Infantry Brigade). He has authored numerous publications on military history, conflict management, peacekeeping, development and human rights.

Ms Annika Hilding Norberg is Head of GCSP Peace Operations and Peacebuilding (education and training, policy-applicable research and advice, dialogue and discussions). She serves on the Board of Directors of the International Leadership Association and the International Advisory Council of the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform. Prior to joining the GCSP, she was the Founding Director of the International Forum for the Challenges of Peace Operations for 21 years. Originating from when she served as President of the London School of Economics (LSE) International Relations Society, the Challenges Forum was founded as part of her research studies at the LSE on comparative approaches to peace operations. She coordinated the Forum based at the LSE (1996-2000), the Swedish National Defence College (1997-2002) and the Folke Bernadotte Academy, an Agency of Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2003-2017). She served on the Board of Directors of the Peace Operations Training Institute, is the main editor of some 80 Challenges Forum and other reports, and has worked and/or studied in ten countries. In 2008, she was awarded the Silver Medal of the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences for her contributions to strengthening UN peacekeeping.

Disclaimer: The views, information and opinions expressed in this publication are the author’s/authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect those of the GCSP or the members of its Foundation Council. The GCSP is not responsible for the accuracy of the information.