United Nations Police

United Nations Police


The United Nations Police (UNPOL) makes up a major component of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).

As of mid-2009, there are 998 UNPOL officers serving with UNMIT and another 638 in a Formed Police Unit (FPU) organised into 4 national units (Bangladesh, Malaysia, Pakistan and Portugal). UNPOL in Timor is currently led by Police Commissioner Luis Carrilho (Portugal).

There has been extensive debate in Timor-Leste over UNPOL’s mandate and conduct, especially after incidents during the 2006 crisis (such as the clashes on 25 May when F-FDTL soldiers shot and killed nine unarmed PNTL policemen and wounded another 27 while they were escorted under UNPOL protection).

Government Sources

United Nations

United Nations Police (UNPOL), UN website

The United Nations has been deploying police officers for service in peace operations since the 1960s. Traditionally, the mandate of the police components of peace operations tended to be limited to monitoring, observing and reporting. Beginning in the early 1990s, advisory, mentoring and training functions were integrated into the dominant monitoring activities in order to offer the peace operations the opportunity to act as a corrective mechanism on the national law enforcement agencies.”


Timor Leste: UN-trained national police to take up their beats, UN News Centre, 27 March 2009

“In UNMIT”s most recent mandate extension, the Security Council supported the phased transfer of policing responsibilities now performed by UNMIT to the PNTL beginning in 2009, stressing however that the police must first meet all required criteria. UN Police will remain in the districts where the PNTL has resumed responsibilities to provide advice and monitoring, particularly in the area of human rights protection.”


Security Sector Review, UNMIT / UNDP, June 2008

“This project proposal outlines the support of the United Nations to the comprehensive review of the security sector initiated by the Government of Timor-Leste.”

Annual Report 2007-08, Australian Federal Police, p56

The AFP maintained a contingent of 50 civilian police within the United Nations Police (UNPOL) component of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT). This mission is mandated to support stability and democratic governance, and national reconciliation within Timor-Leste. UNPOL performs executive policing functions as well as supporting the reformation, restructure and rebuilding of the PNTL. AFP members are engaged in key roles within UN POL and are deployed to UNPOL operations within the capital Dili as well as a number of district commands.”


Security Council extends Timor mandate for one year, boosts police, UN Police Magazine, No.2, June 2007.

“The 15 member [Security Council] voted unanimously in February to extend the mandate of the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) which was due to expire on 25 February [2008] as well as for an additional formed Police Unit (FPU) made up of more heavily armed officers…..The FPU, to be comprised of up to 140 police officers, aims to supplement the existing deployment particularly during the pre- and post electoral period.”

UNPOL and Formed Police Unit Breakdown, UNMIT Briefing Kit, September 2007.

Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, Croatia, Egypt, El Salvador, Gambia, India, Jamaica, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palau, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Samoa, Senegal, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


UN fully takes over policing role in Timor Leste after agreement with government, UN Police Magazine, No.1, December 2007.

“In a further effort to reduce lawlessness in Timor-Leste…the United Nations will now have prime responsibility for police operations throughout the small and impoverished South East Asian nation, after signing an agreement in December [2006]. This is the first such arrangement between a sovereign nation and the UN and details the operational arrangements and command and control procedures through which the police component of the UN integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) will take responsibility as the interim law enforcement agency….

“Security Council resolution 1704 calls for a robust police presence of up to 1608 qualified UNPOL officers coming from various nations to help Timor-Leste improve all aspects of policing operations.”

Formed Police Units (FPU)

The Blue Badge, United Nations Police (UNPol) vol. 1, October 2006.

Q. Will UNPol officers be located in the districts?

Yes. There will be a Formed Police Unit (FPU) in Bacau, and one in Maliana in addition to the FPU in Dili. Additionally UNPol will work with PNTL in all districts and sub-districts throughout Timor-Leste.


FPU-1, UNMIT, East Timor, Bangladesh Police website

Links to table to names, designations and mission designations of the 140 Bangladesh members serving 1 year in the Formed Police Unit

Commentary and Analysis

Timor court decision could promote culture of impunity: Opposition, Connect Asia, Radio Australia, 26 February 2009.

“A recent decision by East Timor’s highest court has found the agreement between the East Timorese government and the United Nations Police non-binding and unconstitutional. East Timor’s Opposition says the court’s decision is alarming, and could lead to a culture of impunity within the fledgling police force.”

Timor-Leste: No Time for Complacency, International Crisis Group, Asia Briefing N°87, 9 February 2009

“There are tensions between the Timorese and the international security forces, with the Timorese police increasingly resisting UN supervision.”

Timor Leste: Security Sector Reform, Asia Report No. 143, International Crisis Group, 17 January  2006

“UN Formed Police Units (FPUs) are specialised armoured police elements that often act as a rapid reaction force in serious outbreaks of violence. With up to 140 personnel from a single country, they fill a gap between highly armed peacekeepers and more lightly or unarmed regular police. They currently come from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia and Portugal (two units). (p. 11)

GNR to remain with UN Timor Force at least until year’s end, says Lisbon, The Portugal News, 12 January 2008 

“Portuguese GNR paramilitary police will stay in East Timor at least until the end of this year as part of a United Nations security force, Portugals interior minister, Rui Pereira, said Wednesday…Lisbon will evaluate the continuing need for the presence of 142 officers from the GNR (National Republican Guard) in a year’s time…Pereira also said the Dili government has requested that GNR agents and officers from Portugal’s PSP police force offer training to Timor’s national force. The GNR currently instructs members of Timors elite police squad, the UIR. Details of Portugal’s continuing security sector cooperation with its former Asian colony will be finalized later this year…”

An Assessment of the UN’s Police Mission in East Timor, The La’o Hamutuk Bulletin, Vol. 3, No. 1: February 2002

“To date, the United Nations mission has had many disciplinary issues with its CIVPOL component. Some of these issues are endemic to the UN and stem from the flawed recruitment and training of CIVPOL. Others are directly related to the negligent and careless attitude exhibited by CIVPOL officers in East Timor. Over the last two years, East Timorese people have faced many problems with CIVPOL officers in East Timor, ranging from incompetence and irresponsibility to gross human rights violations (including rape).”

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