UN emphasizes role of blue helmets in combating organized crime

27 August 2008Policing and law enforcement experts from around the world have gathered in Stockholm for today’s start of a two-day conference examining the threats posed by organized crime to United Nations peace operations. “Establishing fair and effective criminal justice systems is essential if the rule of law is to be established in countries affected by violent conflict, in particular in post-conflict situations where UN operations are established,” said Dmitry Titov, Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions, ahead of the meeting.He helped open the meeting of the fourth International Policing Advisory Council (IPAC), a group of law enforcement experts brought together by the Police Division of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO).The gathering – organized by the UN, the Swedish National Police and the International Peace Institute – will delve into the impact of organized crime on peacekeeping and come up with measures to address the problem. Also taking part are experts from INTERPOL, the European Union, the World Bank, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.“A number of peacekeeping operations are on the front line in the international community’s attempt to combat organized crime in countries recovering from conflict,” said UN Police Adviser Andrew Hughes.Blue helmets have taken part in “gang-clearing” operations in Haiti, and acted against human trafficking and financial crimes in Kosovo, drug trafficking in Afghanistan, and the illicit arms trade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).The UN Police Division is among the fastest-growing within the Organization, with the number of authorized police officers in its ranks swelling from just over 8,000 in January 2006 to nearly 17,000 in January of this year. Currently, over 12,000 UNPOL representing almost 100 nations are deployed in 19 UN peace operations.

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