Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director

First virtual meeting of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Policing

  6 May 2022



Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear colleagues,

It is an honour to join Under-Secretary-General Lacroix to launch the work of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Policing.

Representative, responsive, and accountable police and other law enforcement agencies are a cornerstone of societies that respect the rule of law and human rights.

On any given day, police officers interact with citizens as victims, witnesses, and offenders, and act as first responders to crimes. At their best, police and law enforcement institutions serve as instruments and gateways to inclusive justice.

It is therefore vital that we as the UN family provide coordinated, informed technical assistance and capacity building on policing – in conflict and post-conflict settings, in rural and urban areas, and across regions.

In the face of global complexities and multiple crises, economic hardship and continuing challenges posed by the pandemic, all our entities must take a sharp look at our support, and determine how we can ensure that every dollar spent goes where it is needed, to the people who need it, and can have maximum impact.

We can do so by joining forces, pooling our expertise, and optimizing our resources and comparative advantages, and by drawing upon our respective mandates to ensure complementarity and avoid competition.

The UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Policing will help us to do this by bringing the UN system together and providing a platform based on clearly defined and agreed strategic priorities, to identify best practices and ensure that capacity building on policing topics aligns with the One UN approach.

Following the decision by the Secretary-General’s Executive Committee decision, the Task Force answers the call of “Our Common Agenda” to contribute to a new vision for the rule of law and new agenda for peace, thereby accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

The new Task Force also answers the needs and requests of donors, who have increasingly emphasized the importance of partnership and UN system coordination.

The Terms of Reference are the result of broad consultations, and they have been elaborated to ensure complementarity with existing fora and mechanisms, including the Global Focal Point for the Rule of Law and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Security Sector Reform.

Going forward, the Task Force will help to ensure that policing assistance provided by the UN is in line with, and promotes, international human rights law and UN standards and norms in crime prevention and criminal justice, including the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Professionals, and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms.

By making best use of the Task Force, we have the opportunity not only to avoid overlap and duplication in our assistance, but to ensure that the UN continues to provide the highest quality products, guidance and technical assistance to Member States.

In order to support national police services in meeting current challenges, we need more investment in evidence-based approaches that are inclusive, rights-centred, and gender-responsive, leaving no one behind.

According to UNODC research, fewer than one in six police officers globally is a woman; this imbalance must be addressed to improve gender-sensitive law enforcement and criminal justice, and indeed, to improve the quality of justice for all citizens, women and men.

We need to be the change we want to see in the world, and in this context, I am very proud to share that at the UN Office at Vienna and UNODC, we achieved an 88 percent female selection rate in the period since June 2021 when it comes to security service recruitments. 

We need to understand and respect the contexts in which we work, while explaining and demonstrating the benefits of inclusion and gender equality.

With this goal in mind, I recently launched a new UNODC initiative for Women in Justice/for Justice, to increase representation of women in law enforcement and across the spectrum of justice, building on existing UNODC initiatives in different countries and regions.

Our efforts must encompass a range of interventions, addressing education and recruitment, as well as retention, promotion, and career support as well as mentoring and advocacy.

Alongside improving gender equality, UNODC policing support is also committed to increasing diversity within the police.

By tackling structural discrimination and strengthening trust between police and communities, societies can benefit from increased compliance with the rule of law and public confidence in the authorities, as well as lower crime rates.

In support of these objectives, UNODC is pleased to contribute our extensive policing experience to coordinated assistance through the Task Force, and to facilitate cooperation and the sharing of expertise and good practices between countries and regions.

UNODC global, regional, and country programmes provide capacity-building to law enforcement across our mandate areas of drugs, crime, corruption, and terrorism, helping to ensure high-quality, evidence-based investigations and case files, which in turn support successful prosecution and trials.

I am also pleased that the process of elaborating this Task Force has sparked further collaboration between UNODC, DPO and UNOCT on development of a training curriculum on criminal intelligence.

In addition, UNODC has the honour of being part of the Steering Committee for the UNPOL Training Architecture, and I would like to commend the efforts made by UNPOL towards standardizing training in line with international standards and best practices.

We are also looking forward to developing a joint eLearning module on community-oriented policing this year.

I will conclude here by reiterating UNODC’s commitment to our partnership through the Task Force, and I look forward to hearing from our fellow Task Force principals and representatives.

Thank you.


Closing remarks


Dear colleagues,

This meeting to launch the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Policing has served as an important opportunity to learn about UN policing assistance efforts that are being undertaken, identify gaps in support, and share plans for the next steps.

It has truly been instructive hearing the interventions from our sister UN entities. The depth and breadth of the issues addressed underscore the strength and importance of a one UN approach, and highlight the potential of the Task Force to help us achieve synergies and economies of scale, as we collectively provide the most effective policing assistance possible.

Looking ahead, we will continue our work together to achieve the agreed Task Force outputs, including a mapping of UN policing assistance as well as a development matrix on UN policing norms and guidance, which will both be updated regularly.

We are also committed to finalizing the Task Force work plan for endorsement during the next meeting this summer, and contributing to a communications strategy highlighting the results achieved through our combined efforts.

Here in Vienna, we will be holding the 31st session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice the week after next. The session will provide a further opportunity to inform Member States about the Task Force, and generate much-needed support for our work.

UNODC looks forward to cooperating and coordinating with all of you to promote responsive, rule of law-based policing.

Together, we can strengthen the partnership between police and the local communities they serve, improve international cooperation, and contribute to building peace and security, protecting human rights, and achieving the SDGs.

Thank you.