Creating sustainable peace in conflict-affected areas relies on effective policing in ways that aren’t always apparent. Peace support operations are typically associated with heavy military involvement, especially in the initial stages of the operation, but policing is crucial if the road out of conflict is to lead to lasting peace.
‘In a conflict or post-conflict situation, the [local] police institution as we know it would normally have collapsed. That means the vulnerability of communities is very high,’ explains Crowd Chirenje, Police Coordinator in the African Union Peace Support Operations Division. This breakdown in policing leaves gaps that affect not only the safety of communities, but also prospects for confidence in the new government. ‘Hence, international police support will be required,’ says Chirenje. He explains that the African Union Police fills these gaps in various ways to provide much-needed services, and to develop capacity to restore local policing services and functions and the confidence of the community.