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UN's Treatment of National Staff, Immunity & Use of Spy Drones Arise at IPI

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 19 -- UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, while refusing to answer Press questions even about linking rapes to “R&R” has pushed forward with deploying drones. On October 19 at the International Peace Institute, Haidi Willmot on leave from UN Peacekeeping said that the drones will not spy on any member state.

   Only last week, South Sudan's representative Francis Deng complained in the UN Security Council about the UNMISS mission deploying drones without his government's permission. So Inner City Press ran across First Avenue to asked Ms. Willmot about it, and to ask UN Department of Safety and Security chief Andrew Drennan about the distinction he made in the UN's “duty of care” to international and national staff. Periscope video here.

   Willmot thanked Inner City Press for asking the hard questions -- clearly DPKO boss Ladsous does not agree, having said even at IPI that “I don't respond to you Mister,” whether about the rapes in Minova in the DR Congo, Thabit in Darfur or now in the Central African Republic -- then said one has to be realistic, the drones are not to collect information about member states. But is the consent of the states required or not?

  While Drennan had distinguished the UN's duty of care to national and international staff, when Inner City Press asked he recounted that in Yemen, national staff didn't so much want to be evacuated as to be more involved. Inner City Press heard from a number of UN national staff who DID want to be evacuated, and weren't. Similar disparities took place in Haiti after the earthquake, even in UN's counting of “its” casualties.

  Ian Martin, also on the panel, answered Inner City Press' question by recounting the dangers faced by UN national staff in Gaza. We hope to have more on this.

  Finally, the Indian Mission to the UN's Military Adviser Col. DG Misra mentioned the need for clarity about peacekeepers' immunity. Inner City Press asked him about the counter-veiling trend of the UN ostensible reducing its immunity for rapes, if not for bringing cholera to Haiti. Misra to his credit was quick to say, Zero Tolerance for Sexual Abuse, he meant the need to clarify peacekeepers' roles and legal status as they veer closer to being parties to a conflict.

  In Eastern Congo after the UN and its Force Intervention Brigade “neutralized” the M23 but then has not under Herve Ladsous followed through and similarly neutralized the Hutu FDLR militia, it gave raise both to “party to the conflict” problems and a distrust of Ladsous' use of drones.

 The issues that arose at IPI, and will be discussed again later this month, cannot be solved under DPKO's current “leadership.” And still no comment from UN Women on Ladsous' public, on-camera linking of rapes to “R&R.” We'll have more on this.


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