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As R2P Report Launched, UN Killings in Mali & Failings In Sri Lanka UNanswered

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 8 -- The Responsibility to Protect, described on April 8 as the fastest developing global norm in history, is understandably debated in and around the United Nations, given its membership of 193 states. But does this mean that the UN is doing a good or even credible job at protecting civilians?

    At Germany's mission to the UN on April 8 a report was presented, and the UN's lead R2P official Jennifer Welsh lavished praise on her boss, Ban Ki-moon. But what happened to R2P in, for example, Sri Lanka? What is the UN's record in Darfur, where UN Peacekeeping for example covered up over 200 rapes in Tabit last November?

   The report is entitled “Effective and Responsible Protection from Atrocity Crimes,” and it has many authors: Thorsten Benner, Sarah Brockmeier, Erna Burai, C.S.R. Murthy, Christopher Daase, J. Madhan Mohan, Julian Junk, Xymena Kurowska, Gerrit Kurtz, Liu Tiewa, Wolfgang Reinicke, Philipp Rotmann, Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, Matias Spektor, Oliver Stuenkel, Marcos Tourinho, Harry Verhoeven, and Zhang Haibin.

  The report mentions Sri Lanka ten times, but there is no substantive analysis of the UN's (under) performance, including that the Western Permanent Three members of the Security Council never even tried to get it on the Council's agenda.

   Two of the authors, Philipp Rotmann and Marcos Tourinho, presented the report on April 8; Tourinho said among other things that UN Peacekeeping is uniquely credible.

  The basis of the statement is unclear, coming as it did less than a week after the UN belatedly admitted UN Peacekeepers killed three unarmed civilians in Mali in January, then DPKO chief Herve Ladsous refused to answer Press questions about this and another shooting of protesters in Haiti. Video here, Vine here.

  Peace and security intellectuals are drawn to the UN and are loath to criticize it too much. The reflex of blaming Security Council vetoes, even for the failures of UN Peacekeeping and the UN Secretariat, make it easy to get along.

  Even so, good points were made. Simon Adams of GCPR pointed out that it was the “Global South” which led the fight against apartheid. Brazil's Ambassador Patriota pointed out that questioning the United States' stated sovereignty over Puerto Rico is also a form of interference in ostensibly internal matters, as was the fight against colonialism more generally.

 This last was said in response to an intervention -- one of only three allowed -- by Venezuela. The moderator, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN Heiko Thoms, told the Venezuelan representative to be brief. The latter complained of never having more than two minutes to speak on R2P at the UN. He noted that the current review of UN peace operations is considering the need for host county consent for peacekeeping.

  One hopes that panel is also considering UN Peacekeeping's shooting at unarmed civilians in Mali and Haiti, Ladsous' refusal to answer for this or the cover-up in Darfur, and the selling of UN Peacekeeping position in Haiti and the DRC exposed by Inner City Press, here. These are things the UN would have to clean up before it could be credible on protecting civilians, or anything else. Watch this site.


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