Police chiefs from across the world have met at UN Headquarters for a two-day UN Chiefs of Police Summit (UNCOPS) to chart a vision for the police components deployed to UN peacekeeping missions. Participants are expected to discuss ways to build up the relationship between UN and national policing efforts in order to strengthen the overall response to transnational threats to peace and security. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said UN Police is "a formidable strategic asset". In places like Afghanistan, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Timor-Leste, police personnel and policing assistance had made immense contributions to peace and stability, he said in a message read by his Chef de Cabinet Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti on Thursday, Xinhua reported. "As we continue to review and improve our peacekeeping efforts, UNCOPS is a vital forum for dialogue about how peacekeeping can better live up to the expectations of those we serve and protect," said Guterres. Addressing the opening ceremony on Thursday, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, UN undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations, highlighted the heroism and bravery of police officers as peacekeepers. "Our UN Police colleagues are operating under difficult security and political conditions. Increasingly, our blue berets are serving in contexts where there is no negotiated political settlement in place," he said. He called for greater political engagement and said it was vital to avoid or mitigate conflicts before they escalate into a full-blown crisis. UN Police is an integral part of UN peacekeeping, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. More than 11,000 police officers from some 90 countries currently serve as part of 16 UN operations worldwide.