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UN's Congo Brigade Makes It Subject to ICC, Outgoing Legal Counsel Says; UK Agrees

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, July 9, updated below -- As the UN's Intervention Brigade prepares to launch in Eastern Congo, there is a legal problem.

  The members of the Brigade, and it seems the entirety of the MONUSCO mission, will become parties to an armed conflict, subject not only to international humanitarian law but also to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

  In a question and answer session with outgoing UN Legal Counsel Patricia O'Brien on Tuesday afternoon at which Inner City Press, called the only media there, asked O'Brien about both the Congo and Haiti, the representative of a Troop Contributing County in MONUSCO tried to distinguish the Brigade.

  He said the Brigade and MONUSCO are different; he implied that to find otherwise might even put UN Development Program and other UN system activities at risk of ICC prosecution.

  O'Brien declined to directly answer, calling it delicate and saying that the International Committee of the Red Cross has one view and others, another. But, she said, already revamped rules of engagement and rules for the treatment of captured combatants are being prepared.

  O'Brien noted the presence of the Press at the beginning and end of the session, and explicitly said, "this is not under Chatham House" rules - that is, it was on the record. Two more articles will follow.

Mali and the UN mission there also came up, including that Mali is under the jurisdiction of the ICC. While deployed in the Central African Republic, Chadian soldiers engaged in violations they never answered for. Might things be different with MINUSMA? Watch this site.

Update: In part because of the Troop Contributing Country's argument about ICC coverage, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, by Twitter, if it is the UK's position that the ICC has jurisdiction. He replied, by Twitter,
"@innercitypress Yes. As situation in DRC referred to ICC, any actions taken by anyone in DRC could be reviewed. IB not unique in that."

  While the TCC was arguing that the non-Brigade part of MONUSCO should NOT be covered, perhaps the question is really one of the whole mission being a party to an armed conflict. To be continued. Watch this site.

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