By Ms. C. Bibby

An address by Senior Sergeant Claire Bibby, New Zealand Police at the public launch of the New Zealand National Action Plan for United Nations[1] Security Resolution 1325 Women, Peace and Security in April 2015. The plan was taken to the UN Security Council later that year.

 

In 2015 New Zealand commemorated 100 years since the Anzac landings and remembered the impact this international conflict had on our country and our people. The year also saw other significant events, such as New Zealand’s election to the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent member and the 15th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council adopting Security Resolution 1325. It was also the year New Zealand released its National Action Plan for United Nations Security Resolution 1325,  Women, Peace and Security.

United Nations Security Resolution 1325 is founded on the principle of building and maintaining sustainable peace and security. It brings women into the peacekeeping process by recognising that civilians, especially women and children, form the majority of people impacted negatively by armed conflict and it stresses the importance of increasing women’s decision-making role nationally and internationally to prevent, manage and resolve conflict.[2]

NZ Police contributes to many of the principles of Security Resolution 1325. However, we desire to improve our understanding of the resolution so we can deploy internationally even more effectively. The New Zealand National Action Plan supports that objective. For example, a number of the actions relate to enhancing our pre-deployment processes in relation to women, peace and security in preventing conflict, during conflict and post-conflict.

I will cover three themes today.

  • The history of NZ Police as peacekeepers
  • Our police peacekeeping role internationally.
  • My own experiences on deployment in the Solomon Islands and how these relate to the resolution.

 

The history of NZ Police as peacekeepers

NZ Police have been operating under legislation as peacekeepers for at least 169 years. In 1846 an ordinance for the establishment and maintenance of a constabulary force was passed which tasked constables to preserve the peace and apprehend offenders disturbing the peace.[3]

Today, under Section 22 of the Policing Act 2008[4], all police officers take a police oath or affirmation in Maori or English, in which the constable commits to the best of their power to “keep the peace and prevent offences against the peace”.

The peacekeeping role is further defined in Section 9 of the Act where among the nine functions of police are “keeping the peace”, “national security” and “participating in policing activities outside of New Zealand”.

Section 10 of the Act acknowledges the important and valuable role other people play in assisting police to carry out their functions, such as individual’s, Government and non-Government agencies, and community groups.

 

Our peacekeeping role with the United Nations

The United Nations role to maintain international peace and security is described in its Charter, first developed in 1945. Traditionally, the United Nations drew from the military and civilians, rather than police, for its peacekeeping work. However the United Nations is changing its approach and the value of policing is now being recognised.

Instead of monitoring, observing and reporting for the United Nations, police are now carrying out functions such as advising, mentoring and training.[5] The United Nations website informs us the numbers of military personnel deployed are decreasing and that the future will see a high demand for police services and a continued rise in the numbers of police deploying.[6]

The first time the United Nations deployed police was to the Congo in 1960.  NZ Police’s first contribution was to the second United Nations police mission, in Cyprus, from 1964-1967. Since then NZ Police has participated in United Nation missions to Namibia, 1989-1990; and Timor-Leste, 1999-2001 and 2008-2012.

However the New Zealand Aid Programme supports NZ Police working internationally on gender issues, regardless of whether it is a United Nations mission. For example:

 

  • We deployed under the European Union Police Mission to Afghanistan from 2009-2012. During this time, NZ Police supported the female supervisor of the Afghan National Police (ANP) Fire Service  by arranging for  US Military Fire Specialists from Bagram Air Base to deliver training at Bamiyan ANP Regional Training Centre.
  • Since 2003 a Women’s Advisory Network has been operating within the Secretariat of the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police to develop the leadership and professionalism of Pacific police women.
  • In Bougainville and the Solomon Islands, NZ Police are mentoring police, with a focus on  preventing violence against women and in families.
  • The Pacific Prevention of Domestic Violence Programme has developed since 2005 and now operates in 18 countries across the Pacific region, with Australia joining the programme in 2013 and extending the programme into Micronesia.

 

My experiences on deployment in the Solomon Islands and how these relate to the resolution.

This outlines some of my own experiences of working on deployment to the Solomon Islands and some of the opportunities that were available to me to make a difference for women, peace and security.

I deployed with the Participating Police Force under the Regional Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) for 13 months in 2011-2012, working in the Capacity Development Monitoring Office. The office provides support and guidance to the Police Executive and to RAMSI police staff working in the field.

Our role in the Solomon Islands was to build capability and capacity within the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) through training, mentoring and advising, rather than performing their work for them.

We supported the Family Violence team to develop the Solomon Islands Government and RAMSI Gender Action Plan 2011-2013, with gender advisor Emele Duituturaga, and aligned it to Solomon Islands police operations. Through the Participating Police Force monitoring and reporting framework, I aligned our police performance reporting to the Solomon Islands Government and RAMSI Gender Action Plan. This resulted in the Participating Police Force supporting the RSIPF to get a family violence liaison officer appointed in Honiara Central Police Station. This position had not previously been filled.

I was asked to make an initial assessment of the value of the World Vision Channels of Hope Bible-based programme as a policing initiative. I saw transformational behavioural change taking place as a result of this programme and recommended that it be implemented in the RSIPF. It is now being taught to police who operate as mediators in communities. The programme is due to roll out in Vanuatu and Timor-Leste.

One of the fundamentals of community policing is enabling the community voice to reach police. Through women’s networks, opportunities exist for the sharing of information to make it easier for police to support communities.

For example, the Honiara Tea Group is a network of expatriate ladies who share knowledge, expertise and resources for the betterment of themselves, their families, and the wider community. Through this network I met Doreen Kuper, Chair of the Board for the Festival of Pacific Arts.

As a result of meeting her, I was able to provide police with the logistical operational plan for the management of the health and safety of thousands of visitors expected in the country. This included the management of electricity, transport, catering and accommodation, hospital care, water and disease, with contact names and telephone numbers.

This is essential information for police who have a pivotal role in relief and recovery through emergency management and it was warmly received by the Police Intelligence Office. This example demonstrates that the relationship developed with the Chair of the Board provided the opportunity for women to contribute to prevention, in the context of operational policing, and the management of major events. It also demonstrates the benefits of deploying female police officers in offshore settings, and their role in garnering inter-agency cooperation.

 

Equal access to resources

An example of inter-agency police deployment training at its best is when people of different ethnicities, gender, culture and police jurisdictions train together.  By providing women with the same training opportunities as men, women become more visible, and can be deployed in a wider range of work.  This leads to more opportunities for women’s voices to be heard.

The Solomon Islands civilian women were impressed to see women in the Participating Police Force training with men in public order training. I discovered part of the reason for this when we were deployed operationally,

Not long after our training we were deployed to a Parliamentary protest where the wider Solomon Islands community saw men and women working together in a physical environment, on a skirmish line.

During the protest several men in the community approached me with a mobile phone and gave me a running commentary of where the protestors were and what the protestors’ mood was, and where they were heading.

I was also approached by men who offered the services of a Church leader to help with any negotiations with the protestors. I passed this information on to the Officer in Charge of the Squad.

There are areas of the Solomon Islands which have a matriarchal culture, and the country has a tradition of the Church and women negotiating for peace. This exchange of information between the locals and myself brought home to me the role of women in a matriarchal culture and indicated the value of having women visible and accessible on the front line.

Furthermore, the visibility of the women on the front line – or protective line – of policing was brought to the attention of the new Prime Minister who made special mention of it in his speech to the RSIPF and Participating Police Force.

Sadly, the local media printed all of his speech except the part which acknowledged his support for women protecting the community. It was a reminder that the media is a powerful influence in how women are portrayed.

During this time, the Participating Police Force and RSIPF put on a demonstration of their Officer Safety Training skills for the police leaders. Two female police officers graduated and were presented with certificates. These women are now deployable to the front line of conflict and will be visible as peacekeepers.

After the presentations, the men and women from the Participating Police Force made the point of approaching the Solomon Islands policemen and thanking them for supporting the training of the female police officers. I spoke to the Australian officer in charge of training who said he had deliberately selected women to be trained in this area.

This is a fine example of the valuable influence men have in supporting women’s professional development, which in turn leads to better work opportunities and more opportunities for women’s voices to be heard in brokering peace.

I invited the women to remain for a photograph, and the female police advisor in the media unit photographed them with the new RSIPF Police Commissioner and the Commander of the Participating Police Force. This photograph was used in international police media and is another step forward in championing and normalising the visibility and value of women in policing.

 

Explosive Ordnance Disposal

It’s only in relatively recent times that the NZ public sector has progressed toward equity of opportunity in full range of careers. The reality is, other societies are still in the early stages of that transition and there is work to be done.

An example of this is the situation of Freda, an outstanding performer in the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Unit. She was at University at the height of the tensions in the Solomon Islands and decided to become a police officer in 2001. She thought if she joined the police, she could help restore law and order in her country.

She was recruited directly into the Police Field Force, which was a unit responding to armed incidents such as robberies and other active violent offending. In later years she joined the Response Team which deploys to public disorder and she became the first female Officer Safety Instructor. She worked in Close Personal Protection, where very few women work, and in 2009 she became the first female police officer to join the EOD Unit, dealing with unexploded munitions.

Freda said she was well supported by some of the men in the unit.  She enjoyed the blasting of munitions, and providing specialist support to communities who called for police assistance. Many unexploded munitions are found by locals in, or within close proximity to communities where women and children live.

However in September 2010 she had to leave work regularly to go home to feed her new-born baby. Without consulting with her, a decision was made to stand her down from the EOD Unit because of these absences. She described this situation as a gender issue.

Freda felt this was unfair as she could have been assigned administrative duties within the EOD and continued with her learning and progression to an Advanced EOD course. Unfortunately neither Freda nor her supervisor, who supported her, could get the decision overturned.

Enabling womens’ voices to be heard in munitions disposal is a post-conflict objective of Resolution 1325. If there are no women working in munitions disposal, then the opportunity to engage with women in the community is marginalised.

Security Resolution 1325 provides a mandate and a framework for our police to work to, to engage with local police to support and encourage those who aspire, such as Freda, to work in police roles traditionally only open to men.

 

Other ways women in policing support women internationally

I would like to share with you, two other examples of how police support women internationally.

In 2014 I received an email from a female Inspector in the Maldives, who I first met about seven years ago at the Australasian Council of Women in Policing Conference. She was concerned with a proposal on fitness standards that would see a higher level of fitness required for women than for men, which she felt was inequitable. She requested from me, at very short notice, information about the fitness standards for NZ Police applicants which was provided, and which she used, along with police fitness standards from other countries, in her submission to have the proposed Maldives police fitness standards reviewed.

She responded: “The main reason why the current proposed standard didn’t pass at the management board today was due to your kind help in giving me facts to present at the board!”

She said that there were only two female police officers compared to 50 or more male police officers at the management board meeting and she had been apprehensive that as the proposed standards favoured men, and disadvantaged women, they would get approval.

 

The second example relates to the work of my colleague Sally Fletcher, who graduated with me as a police officer. She is now a civilian police employee and volunteers for Shelter Box, providing emergency shelter and vital supplies to support communities overwhelmed by disaster and humanitarian crisis.

After Cyclone Pam, Shelter Box went to Vanuatu and worked in partnership with CARE International, an NGO currently based in Vanuatu to distribute emergency equipment. Sally said the initial distribution of tarpaulins was decided by the chief of the village.

When it came to how the tools, such as shovels, ropes, machete, handsaws, tin snips and hoes should be dispersed, it was decided that a meeting should be held with the woman of the village to discuss the fairest way to handle this. After a robust discussion it was agreed that the village chief, in conjunction with the woman leader of that particular Nakama (meeting place), would be responsible for holding these tools and lending them out. The community, was very happy that a democratic outcome was reached.

 

Conclusion

I opened with the commemoration of 100 years of the Anzac landings and impact of World War I on our country and our people, which continues today. I spoke of the police peacekeeping role which is mandated by legislation and carried out in cooperation with individuals and communities of interest nationally and internationally. I hope this has generated understanding about how NZ Police interact with a range of communities internationally to enable women to be more visible and have their voice heard in preventing breaches of the peace, negotiating for peace and in maintaining peace.

NZ Police is pleased to support and contribute to the implementation of Security Resolution 1325. We believe this National Action Plan will help NZ Police to be better positioned, as and when required, to deploy men and women, including senior women, on international missions to work in cooperation with partner agencies and civilian groups to increase the effectiveness of the voice of women in decision making on peacekeeping matters.

I close with these words of reflection for peace, taken from the Anzac display on the New Zealand Dominion Museum building at Wellington

Whakamaharatanga – Remembrance

Rangimarie – Peace

Aroha – Grace

Tumunako – Hope

[1] United Nations (2000). United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (S/RES/1325 (2000)). Retrieved from http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/1325(2000)
[2]New Zealand Police. (n.d.). The establishment of New Zealand Police. Retrieved from http://www.police.govt.nz/about-us/history/establishment
[3] Policing Act 2008, No. 72. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2008/0072/latest/DLM1102125.html
[4] United Nations Peacekeeping. (n.d.). UN Police. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/issues/police.shtml
[5] United Nations Peacekeeping. (n.d.). The Present. Retrieved from
http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/operations/present.shtml