SINCE the completion of its second tour as a rotating member of the UN Security Council in 1990, Malaysia has remained one of the major troops contributing countries (TCC) to UN peacekeeping operations in the African continent and the Balkans.
The increase in the number of deployments of UN Peacekeepers require both military observers as well as police officers. The UN has been deploying police officers for peacekeeping missions since the 1960s but their mandate was limited to monitoring, observing and reporting on the rule of law.
Malaysia remains committed to safeguarding international peace and security especially through the involvement of the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) in the UN peacekeeping operations. In fact, our police officers were deployed in the United Nations Operation in Congo (Unoc) in 1960, and a formal police component was used for the first time in the UN Peacekeeping force in Cyprus in 1964.
In the early 1990s, the task of the UN police officers in the peacekeeping operations was expanded to include advisory, mentoring and training functions to strengthen as well as to act as a corrective mechanism with the local police and other law enforcement agencies in the mission areas.
To increase the deployment of police personnel, the UN Security Council selected the RMP to participate in the United Nations Angola Verification Mission (Unavem) II, established on May 30, 1991 to verify the arrangements agreed by the parties to monitor the Angolan police during the ceasefire, as well as to observe and verify the elections in accordance with the Peace Accords for Angola.
This was the first South-East Asian police force participating in a peacekeeping mission. A total of 103 police officers from Malaysia served in the Unavem from 1993 to 1998. Their selection clearly recognised the credibility and capability of the RMP at the international level.
Furthermore, as testimony to Malaysia’s responsibility, the RMP was selected for deployment in Cambodia after the UN Security Council authorised the establishment of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (Untac) in 1992. A total of 226 police officers were deployed in the same year.
The RMP personnel also continued to serve in other peacekeeping missions, including in Sierra Leone, Bosnia Herzegovina and Kosovo, to ensure compliance with international human rights standards, and assist in a wide range of activities to restore public safety in the conflict area.
Malaysia was again elected into the UN Security Council, for 1999/2000, gaining endorsement from the General Assembly with 174 votes out of 192. The endorsement of the UN member states is crystal clear proof of Malaysia’s sterling service towards international peace and stability.
As a member of the UN Security Council, Malaysia is not only one of the major contributors to the maintenance of international peace and security, it also promotes universal respect for human rights. This commitment is in consonance with Article 23 of the United Nations Charter.
At the same time, the Police Division in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) in New York has been called upon to provide security for United Nations staff and resources in the mission areas, and to support the local police in duties such as crowd control, securing political rallies and elections.
Thus, the first Police Formed Units were deployed in the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (Unmik), and in the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor in 1999, where the UN had full responsibility for enforcing the law and dealing with threats to public order.
With the Security Council Resolution 1410 (2002) of May 17, 2002, the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (Unmiset) was established.
One of its mandates was to provide interim law enforcement and public security and to assist in the development of a new enforcement agency in the East Timor Police Service ( ETPS).
The commendable performance of the RMP officers at the various peacekeeping operations influenced the Security Council members to select the RMP to send a Formed Police Unit for deployment in East Timor.
A self-sustained unit consisting of 125 personnel (from the Malaysian Police Federal Reserve Unit) was deployed in August 2003 under Unmiset to form the International Police Unit in support of the Timor-Leste National Police.
The RMP also continued to deploy a Formed Police Unit consisting of 250 police personnel under a bilateral agreement between the Government of Malaysia and the Government of East Timor until 2006.
As at August 2015, the UN Police Division has deployed 13,550 police personnel in UN Peacekeeping Operations, with 15 RMP personnel participating in the African Union-United Nations Hybrid in Darfour (Unamid).
Our “Men In Blue” have participated in 14 missions with the deployment of 3,700 personnel in UN peacekeeping operations since 1990.
These deployments have brought positive impact and priceless experience to our officers, helping to enhance their knowledge and skills in handling challenging security environments in the international arena.
COLONEL RAMLI H. NIK (RTD)
Senior Fellow, Department of Strategic Studies
National Defence University of Malaysia