In the past two decades, United Nations police (UNPOL) have become an increasingly visible and important part of UN peacekeeping. Second only to military peacekeepers in numbers, about 12,600 UN police served in UN peace operations in mid-2013. Their roles have evolved over the decades from observing and reporting to mentoring, training, reforming, operating alongside, and occasionally standing in for local police as a post-war government is re-established with international help.
Authorized numbers of UN police increased by at least 25 percent per year from 2003 through 2007, outpacing the UN Secretariat's capacities for supportive strategic planning and doctrine, selection, and recruitment, while vacancy rates for UN police in missions rose above 30 percent. In this paper, we discuss selection, recruitment, and deployment issues for UN police that are being addressed but are not fully resolved.