The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO)
United Nations peacekeepers (UN Police) working with National police counterparts in Metihaut, Timor-Leste
“UN Peacekeeping Operations are the cornerstone of the international community’s response to international crises.” Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy, UN Police Magazine, July 2009
United Nations peacekeeping is a unique and dynamic instrument developed by the Organization as a way to help countries torn by conflict foster the conditions for lasting peace. The strategic context for UN peacekeeping dramatically changed, prompting the Organization to shift and expand its field operations from “traditional” missions involving strictly military tasks, to complex “multidimensional” enterprises designed to ensure the implementation of comprehensive peace agreements and assist in laying the foundations for sustainable peace. Today, over 120,000 peacekeepers undertake a wide variety of complex tasks, from helping to build sustainable institutions of governance, to human rights monitoring, to justice and security sector reform, to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants.
The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the Department of Field Support (DFS), are responsible for the establishment and management of fifteen UN peacekeeping operations and two political missions functioning around the world. In the context of these increasing challenges, one of the main priorities is to ensure sustainability by supporting, amongst others, reforms in the rule of law of the host countries. In addition, DPKO is the designated United Nations lead entity in strengthening legal and judicial institutions and guiding security sector reform where there are peacekeeping operations. DPKO is the UN lead entity for police and corrections issues and the system-wide coordinator of inter-agency efforts for mine action.
Through its “Integrated Operational Teams” at UN Headquarters, the department ensures a UN-wide integrated approach to rule of law and security issues. Through its “Integrated Mission Planning Process”, it ensures that those issues become fully incorporated into a strategic and country-specific framework. Recognizing that complex peace operations must identify, prioritize and address rule of law and security sector reform challenges early on, the UN Security Council has increasingly designed peace operations mandates assisting national authorities with rule of law reforms addressing police, judiciary, corrections, and the security sector.
The creation of the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions (OROLSI) in 2007 (A/RES/61/279) led by an Assistant-Secretary General helped the most complex missions to better support national authorities in their efforts to put in place rule of law reforms addressing police, judiciary, corrections, security sector reform, mine action plans and the reintegration of ex-combatants into civilian life.
OROLSI brings together the Criminal Law and Judicial Advisory Service (CLJAS), the Police Division (PD), the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration Section (DDR), the Security Sector Reform Unit (SSR), and the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS). Its primary role is to provide expertise, integrated guidance and support to United Nations field missions, but it also responds to specific requests from other United Nations entities and Member States.