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UN Police and Conflict Prevention

Publisher: SIPRI
June, 2018

This discussion paper connects the sustaining peace agenda and conflict prevention with the police component in United Nations (UN) peace operations.

UN Police (UNPOL) play a critical role in conflict prevention through: (a) direct operational actions aimed at mediating disputes, defusing tensions and deterring violence; (b) structural prevention linked to mentoring, training and advising host state police, and the development of more effective, accountable and legitimate law enforcement institutions; and (c) systemic prevention through support for international norms and mechanisms to combat transnational organized crime, illicit arms flows and human trafficking.

UNPOL’s role in conflict prevention can be further developed by a stronger focus on relationships with host state counterparts and civil society; more qualitative assessments on drivers of conflict and the inclusion of such assessments in early warning systems as well as UN reporting; and greater integration of UNPOL contributions to UN conflict prevention efforts.


1. Conflict prevention is more important than ever

2. Conflict prevention in the framework of sustaining peace 

3. How peace operations contribute to conflict prevention and building a sustainable peace 

4. The police component of conflict prevention and building a sustainable peace 

5. Recommendations on developing policing as a more central element of the conflict prevention and sustaining peace agenda


Dr Marina Caparini was until recently a Senior Researcher and Director of the SIPRI Governance and Society Programme.