The Challenges of Training UNCivPol


By: Gerald F. Witherspoon, Sr.

UNCivPol now make up an extremely significant part of UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UNDPKO). However, many have expressed concern that the training received by international civilian police is not of the best sorts (Schoenhaus 2002). As with many challenges that fall within the public security and peacebuilding realm, there is no silver bullet approach; Nevertheless, more should be done.

The types of mission international civilian police are deployed for vary widely and the type of skills required are extremely comprehensive. According to Tonya Cook, “UNCivPol are recruited mainly for monitoring and reporting tasks in accordance with the “SMART” concept—that is, limiting their activities to Supporting, Monitoring, Advising, Reporting, and Training” (Schoenhaus 2002, 26).

This is problematic because many international emergencies demand other activities that push monitoring to a much less, if not non-existent role within the priority hierarchy. For example, peacekeeping is increasingly becoming more about reform, organizational, institutional, and overall capacity building and change (Schoenhaus 2002). To that accord, monitoring an institution that is clearly in need of reform, calls for knowledge and skills in institutional reform that an understanding of effective monitoring may not provide.

The training that has been provided has for the most parts failed. The environments where international civilian police are needed the most are full of social chaos. The added inability to coalesce around a common core of ethics and standards or arrive culturally aware of co-workers or local nationals frustrates matters worse.

Cook argued that all three types of training for international civilian police (pre-deployment, induction, and specialized in-service) were currently deficient (Schoenhaus 2002). She pointed out how pre-deployment training was limited to domestic standards, induction training was offered after arrival, and specialized in-service training was underdeveloped (Schoenhaus 2002).

It is important to note that many nations offer little to no peacekeeping training, and DPKO’s Military Division and TES and the UN Civilian Police Division (CPD) had not developed a common training curriculum as of 2002 (Schoenhaus 2002).

To align with the Brahimi Report and PDD-71’s aim to strengthen criminal justice systems and hold CivPol officers more accountable, a more eager attempt should be made to standardize training and establish common disciplinary guidelines.



Schoenhaus, Robert. Training for Peace and Humanitarian Relief Operations. Peaceworks, Washington: United States Institute of Peace, 2002.


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