Pillar II in Practice: Policy Capacity-Building in Oceania
Asia-Pacific Centre on the Responsibility to Protect (APCR2P)
At the recent AusAID sponsored UN Strategy and Coordination Conference on the Regional Capacity to Protect, Prevent and Respond, the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative on Responsibility to Protect (R2P), Edward Luck, noted that while the three pillars of R2P are becoming better known, 90% of the academic work is on pillar III (intervention), even though it is comparatively rare. In contrast we know much less about Pillar II: The Responsibility to Assist.
This briefing paper explores police capacity-building (“police-building”) in three developing states of Oceania and its relation to R2P. This activity forms part of a larger challenge of Security Sector Reform (SSR) occurring within an even wider paradigm of state-building. SSR is linked with the idea of development, as well as with aid delivery and the transmission of technical knowledge and expertise. With respect to policing, our key questions that interrogate how principles of R2P may operate are:
• How does international donor assistance support police capacity-building in developing states of Oceania with respect to the human rights protections of citizens and the norms of international state behavior?
• Exactly what is being done to assist states with developing the capabilities and capacities of their police forces, and by whom?
• How can the success of such activities be measured? (…)
Rather than being a top down transmission of skills and knowledge, our fieldwork has shown that the discourse of R2P is absent from the training being provided to local police forces. With respect to human rights, police training, and police capacity-building more generally, instead focuses on debates about appropriate treatment of citizens by the police (and the army), and the constitutional protections for the rights of citizens. (…)
We argue there is a growing police capability being provided to developing states in terms of increasing the respect that their police forces have for the rights of their own citizens. For this to work, one of the main issues must be trust between the community and the police. There is tension between different applications of the doctrine or model of community policing, with the international community taking a less vigorous approach, rather than the more paramilitary style favoured by the political leaders of Timor Leste (and anecdotally by the population). This is further complicated by the presence of over 40 interpretations of community policing within UNPOL’s serving police contingents, operating within different districts, for varying periods , and at varying levels of intensity.(…)
Policing any community requires the capacity to integrate with the community and to be able to respond and to work together. Our research highlights the important role that NGOs play in this process. They disseminate information and knowledge about the activities of police to the public; and they play an important role not only in educating citizens, but potentially also in developing a culture of understanding of human rights protection within police forces. (…) This points to the need for greater cooperation and coordination between international police, local police and NGOs in community policing activities. (…)
Measuring the success or effectiveness of capacity building is a task that is neither clear nor easy. While an enforcement measure to prevent genocide, such as an airstrike on a tank, can be observed, filmed and applauded, the Responsibility to Assist through strengthening the capacity of developing states to operate security services that uphold and respect the human rights of their citizens is a long term effort that is costly, often confusing and uncertain, but worth the effort.
Read the full brief.