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UN Peace Operations Review Claims No Impunity, Ignores Haiti, Sangaris - Not Released Before Presser

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 16 -- Nearly seven months after the Review Panel on Peace Operations began its work, and after breaking scandals about the cover up of sexual abuse in Central African Republic, Haiti and elsewhere, the Panel on June 16 handed its report to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, whose Office released a three-page "Information Note" about it. Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access tweeted photos of it, here.

  The Note, under the heading "Addressing Abuse and Enhancing Accountability," says that "immunity must not mean impunity. Immunity was never intended and does not apply to provide immunity [sic] from prosecution to UN personnel alleged to have committed sexual exploitation and abuse. The immunity privileges are functional only, i.e., related to the exercise of his/her professional duty as a UN employee, not for private acts."

  Is this directed at the courts which receive arguments for UN impunity, as for killing 8000 people and counting in Haiti by bringing cholera?

Update: Inner City Press asked Ban's Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq if Ban agrees that "immunity must not mean impunity." Haq said Ban is "still studying" it.

Haq also said that the report will NOT be released even before the press conference delayed until 3 pm. Only at the UN do they say they are holding a "press conference" on a report they are NOT releasing. We'll have more on this.

  The Information Note goes on, "Bar troops from countries listed in the Secretary General's annual reports on children and armed conflict and on conflict related sexual violence, until de-listed."

  But the Secretary General choose to disregard his own Special Adviser's advice and not list Israel or Hamas, and did not list the French "peacekeepers" alleged to have engaged in child sexual abuse in the Central African Republic.

   There was a press conference on the report long scheduled for 1:30 pm on June 16; at the last minute the time was changed. The meeting at which the report was unveiled was closed.

  This UN cannot reform itself.

  On June 12, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the mounting scandals around Herve Ladsous' UN Peacekeeping, and Dujarric said that the Panel would respond. From the transcript:

Inner City Press: what would you say in light of all of this recent sexual abuse and past sexual abuse, to those that would say in this peacekeeping mission in particular and UN peacekeeping more generally is really surrounded by any number of scandals right now?  What does Ban Ki-moon intend to do about it?

Spokesman:  I think we have the peace operations review panel which will come out next week.  And they'll come in and brief you, which is going to be a holistic look at our peace operations or the special political missions, peacekeeping missions...

   While respecting chair Ramos Horta and some members of the Panel, Inner City Press has heard from within it that it is a turf fight between Ladsous' DPKO and Feltman's DPA, not an endeavor for the needed clean up of UN Peacekeeping in light of the shooting of unarmed proteests, the cover up of sexual abuse in the Central African Republic (with Ladsous abusing his power), and the OIOS report which Inner City Press put online here. The press conference in June 16. Watch this site.

  Back on November 20, 2014, the review of UN Peace Operations chaired by Jose Ramos Horta of Timor Leste kicked off with a press conference then an interactive dialogue with the Security Council.

In the press conference, Ramos Horta was asked of scandals facing UN Peacekeeping, from cover-ups in Darfur of attacks and now 200 rapes in Thabit, to a lack of accountability for cholera in Haiti to the use of private military contractors and even “eavesdropping.”

  Inner City Press asked Ramos Horta about UNAMID's pro-government press release of November 9 denying the Thabit rapes, and about Haiti cholera, which Ramos Horta vowed to raise to his fellow panel members.

  Some of these members spoke with the Security Council later on November 20, and a smaller subset with Inner City Press after the meeting. From that and what some Council members said, it appears that the Security Council's vision of the panel's mandate is far narrower and more bureaucratic, on such issues of how mandates should be drafted.

  That's all well and good for the pen-holding countries in the Security Council, some of which contribute few to no peacekeepers to UN missions. But what about the people ostensibly served by those mission? Those in Haiti, impacted by cholera? Those in Darfur, under-protected, now criticizing UNAMID and the ultimately the Department of Peacekeeping Operations run by Herve Ladsous?

  One outgoing Security Council member, Rwanda, said it had raised the cases in which UN Peacekeeping does not live up to its mandate, like letting civilians be attacked and killed mere miles from its bases. Others pointed out that while many Troop Contributing Countries question the mandates now being given, those drafting the mandates come from countries without their own soldiers in the field.

  Permanent Five countries are well represented on the panel, including former Ambassadors who served in the Security Council, former diplomats who then served the UN like B. Lynn Pascoe, long time UN-ers like Ian Martin (who, for the record, is interested in Sri Lanka but not working on it at the moment).

  Norway's Hilde Johnson, after what some view as a controversial time at the helm of the mission in South Sudan, was present on November 20 but did not speak afterward. Others did, like Wang Xuexian of China, Ameerah Haq of Bangladesh, still the head of the Department of Field Support and Alexander Ilitchev of Russia. Radhika Coomaraswamy, named an “ex officio” member by Ramos Horta, did not appear to be present for this dialogue with the Security Council, at least not in the hallway afterward.

  Ramos Horta has vowed to listen to all constituencies, including those impacted by UN Peacekeeping. This could result in needed reforms, or at least a report publicly calling for them. Watch this site.


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