Publication Details

Goldsmith, A., Hawksley, C. & Georgeou, N. (2012). The responsibility to protect in Oceania: a political assessment of the impact and influence of R2P on police forces. Research in Focus 2012 (pp. 42-45). St Lucia: University of Queensland.

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Research In Focus


The project ‘R2P in Oceania’ is a political assessment of the impact and influence of R2P principles on the developing police forces of three states, Timor-Leste, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea (PNG). It links most strongly with the Centre’s priority concept two: supporting states to build their capacities to protect their own populations from abuses of human rights, including genocide and mass atrocities. This articulates with the Responsibility to Assist, the least studied aspect of the UNSG’s ‘Three Pillars’ Approach to R2P. Our research provides empirical findings surrounding the process of police-building in these states. It points to the critical role of CSOs in monitoring police actions, and in education the community. At the same time we have identified a need for greater involvement by CSOs in the process of police-building, in particular in drawing attention to the importance of gender mainstreaming in peace-building in post conflict societies. A key finding has been identifying the disjuncture between the international norms of UNSC Resolution 1325 and their implementation by patriarchal institutions such as police forces, especially in relation to addressing the serious social problem of sexual and gender based violence.

International police-building efforts are conscious of this matter, however progress is slow. A central problem is the creation or renewal of trust in police as an institution. Progress is being made, and police in Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands are showing the effects of the large international investment. Police-building in PNG is too small to expect any outcomes, and while this remains the case the propensity for abuse of power and abuse of rights by police continues.