Ai Kihara-Hunt, PhD, University of Essex

The UN police is the fastest growing component of UN Peace Operations. Its functions have evolved: from monitoring, to law enforcement tasks, capacity building and institutional reform, and to newer ‘rule of law’ tasks. Situations in which it is deployed have also changed: initially benign environment, but increasingly in more volatile situations. Formed Police Units (FPUs) were first deployed in 1999. They are part of the UN police, who are given specific tasks requiring a formed response and involving a higher security risk. They have rapidly increased, and currently consist almost 70 percent of the UN police. This article questions whether their significant rise is proportional to the increased demand for their functions. One aspect of FPUs is their mode of selection and deployment. Unlike individually selected officers (Individual Police Officers, IPOs), FPU officers are selected virtually exclusively by their contributing States and deployed as national units in bulk, and the UN pays the cost to their contributing States. This enables the UN to save time and for contributing States to receive money. If that is the real reason for the rise of FPUs, this needs to be discussed transparently at the UN’s political organs.