William G. O'Neill

Lawyer Specializing in Human Rights
U.N. missions in Kosovo, Rwanda and Haiti
Focus Area(s)
Accountable Policing
Critical Tasks
Gordon Peake
Country of Reform
Brooklyn, New York
United States
Date of Interview
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
William G. O’Neill, a lawyer specializing in international human rights and former senior adviser on human rights for the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, discusses his experiences with police sector reform in Haiti, Rwanda, and Kosovo. He begins by discussing police recruitment processes, noting that in countries developing new police forces it is important to think about the desired education, age, geographic, and gender profile of the force. He notes that an important lesson learned is that the police recruitment process takes time. While there is often tension between high quality recruitment and the need to quickly train new forces, O’Neill states that when processes are not set up correctly at the offset, later problems become more difficult to correct. He goes on to discuss local police training programs in Haiti and Kosovo. Two promising developments of the Haiti training program included the use of practical exercises and case studies derived from the Haitian context and the involvement of civil society representatives who discussed their concerns and expectations for the new Haitian National Police. O’Neill concludes by noting that it is important that the police and other relevant parts of the judiciary work together productively from the start of the police reform process.  

Full Interview

88 MB
William G O'Neill - Full Interview

At the time of this interview, William G. O’Neill was a lawyer specializing in international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law. He was senior adviser on human rights in the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, chief of the U.N. Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda and head of the legal department of the U.N./OAS Mission in Haiti. He worked on judicial, police and prison reform in Burundi, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Timor Leste, Nepal and Bosnia-Herzegovina. He investigated mass killings in Afghanistan for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. He also conducted an assessment of the human rights situation in Darfur and trained the U.N.’s human rights monitors stationed there. O’Neill has published widely on the rule of law, human rights and peacekeeping. In 2008, the Social Science Research Council appointed him as director of its Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum. 

local police training
Not specified