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Organized crime threatens peace efforts top UN police official warns INTERPOL

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8 October 2008Organized crime poses a grave threat to countries emerging from conflict that are seeking to consolidate peace, the top United Nations police official warned INTERPOL today, calling for increased global cooperation to address the scourge. Collaboration between UN Police [UNPOL] and INTERPOL in peacekeeping operations “brings the combined weight of a majority of the world’s States to bear on organized crime networks,” Police Adviser Andrew Hughes said.He was addressing INTERPOL’s 77th General Assembly, the organization’s supreme governing body, in St. Petersburg, Russia, is focusing on boosting national police and law enforcement capacity to enhance international policing.Senior representatives from 186 member countries – including nearly half of the world’s national police commissioners – are attending the annual gathering, which began yesterday and concludes on Friday.While in Russia, Mr. Hughes is also meeting the country’s authorities to discuss its role in police peacekeeping.Many UN peace operations have already been mandated to tackle organized crime, with blue helmets taking part in “gang-clearing” activities in Haiti, fighting drug trafficking in Afghanistan and Guinea-Bissau, tackling the black market in Timor-Leste and combating illicit arms trafficking in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).Policing has become the fastest growing component of UN peacekeeping, with the number of authorized police officers doubling from over 8,000 in January 2006 to nearly 17,000 in January this year. There are now almost 12,000 UN Police from 98 countries deployed in 18 UN peace operations. The percentage of women officers has also doubled, rising over the past four years from 4 per cent to 8 per cent. read more

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