Soldiers Supported by UN in Somalia, UNSC Will Respond After 3
June 16, updated -- Days
after the UN-supported
Federal Government's use of child soldiers was widely exposed, the
Security Council's lack of seriousness on the issue was on display on
Wednesday. Mexican foreign minister Patricia Espinosa presided over a
day-long series of speeches about children and armed conflict. At
noon, Inner City Press asked her what she and the Council would do
about their support of the TFG, which uses children as young as nine
and 12 to wield AK-47s in Mogadishu.
has not been
raised to the Security Council, Secretary Espinosa replied, not even
to the Working Group. Video here.
later, when Inner City Press asked
the UN's envoy on the issue Radhika Coomaraswamy how the TFG's use of
child soldiers could have been missed, she protected that the Council
had in fact been told of the TFG's recruitment in three straight
at the end
of the Council's debate after 7 p.m., a Mexican mission official
confirmed that yes, the Somali TFG has been formally listed for the
past three years. The most senior Mexican mission official shrugged*
that the minister had been mis-informed. [See update below, on both the shrug
and the information.]
The expose of
TFG's use of child soldiers was on the front page of the New York
Times days before the UN's day long "debate." The
representative of a Permanent Five member of the Council told Inner
City Press that the NYT story had triggered inquiries to the
capital(s), and statements ready for the press. How could the month's
Council presidency, with children and armed conflict as their chosen
thematic issue, be so unprepared?
Update: It has been explained to
Inner City Press that what Secretary Espinosa was referring to was an
upcoming Working Group session in September. Our point remains the
same: something is wrong with the Security Council when pressing
issues, involving as this one does the Council's own integrity, get
confined to slow bureaucratic processes.
But that is
hardly this month's Presidency's fault. And the senior -- senor --
diplomat, it's worth nothing, undertook a thankless trip to Eritrea and
other hotspots, in the name of Somali sanctions. The shrug* was not
disinterest but fatigue after a full day of speeches. We will continue
to follow this issue.
UNICEF's Johnson, Ms. Coomaraswamy, UN action on TFG
asked Secretary Espinosa if this didn't show that the Council is too
bound in bureaucracy to deal with egregious behavior in the
peacekeeping or political missions it creates, from Somalia to the
Congo to Haiti. These are the mechanisms, she replied. Indeed.
said that UN Envoy to Somalia Ould Abdallah had been told, UNDP had
been told. Why did Ould Abdallah say or do nothing? Why did UNDP keep
* * *
Somalia Unaddressed in Security Council Speeches,
Conflict of Interest
NATIONS, June 16 -- As the UN Security Council debates one of its
favorite topics, Children and Armed Conflict, it has a conflict of
interest. Since 2006 it has supported, some say propped up, the
Transitional Federal Government in Somalia. Now what was long known
has been more publicly
exposed, that at least 20% of the TFG's
soldiers are underage, some below ten years old.
June 15 Inner City Press asked Council President for June Claude
Heller of Mexico what the Council would do about the report. There is
a debate tomorrow, Heller said on camera. Later, emerging from
consultations in the Council chamber with, among others, delegates of
Ivory Coast and Georgia, Heller said that something would be said on
the topic on Wednesday.
foreign minister Patricia Espinosa Cantellano is in New York for the
debate, slated to speak to the Press at 11:30. But not on this topic,
Inner City Press is told. What then could she be asked? If the
underaged members of drug gangs like La Familia in Michoacan should
be considered children in armed conflict?
UN's Ban and Sec't Espinosa, 2009, support
for TFG and its child soldiers not shown
here's from Secretary Espinosa's statement:
call upon the Security Council, within the limits of its mandate, to
continue being vigilant of the repercussions that armed conflicts
have on children, and to promote concrete actions to fulfill the
recommendations emanating from the Working Group on Children and
Armed Conflict. We defend the interests of children and consider
that, as a community, we must enhance our efforts to give a wide and
effective protection to children. Crimes against children cannot be
stopped if perpetrators remain unpunished."
about enablers in the recruitment of child soldiers, like the UN
Political Office on Somalia, UNDP and... the UN Security Council? We
will be asking. Sixty countries are coming to speechify. Watch this
of 10:38 a.m. -- After Susan Rice strode in at 10:11, the meeting and
speeches started. Another P5 member's spokesperson said they're aware
of the TFG Somalia expose, but "it hasn't come up, there's been
no reason for it to come up." And in today's debate on children
and armed conflict? "Let's see," the spokesperson says.
of 10:41 a.m. -- it emerges in the Security Council "quiet room"
people, including Ambassadors, are watching the Spain - Switzerland
game instead of listening to the speeches on children and armed
of 11:37 a.m. -- US Amb. Susan Rice briefly mentions Somalia, calling
on "all parties" to stop recruiting child soldiers. What
about the "party" the US is funding, the TFG? Not enough
specifics. She also mentions DRCongo, the Lord's Resistance Army and
the Central African Republic. Answers on Somalia, and on US
safeguards, are needed. But here comes Sec't Espinosa.
* * *
Paying Child Soldiers of Somali TFG, Safeguards and UN Role Not
15 -- Since the Transitional Federal Government was
installed in Somalia, it has been known that it controlled its small
turf by using child soldiers. The US provided salaries, the UN system
Ambassador to the UN Claude Heller told Inner City Press on June 15,
when a 12 year old with an enormous AK 47 is on the front page of the
New York Times, what had been accepted changes. See video here.
Heller is the
president of UN Security Council for June, and will chair a meeting
on June 16 on children and armed conflict. After Inner City Press
asked him about the TFG, Heller replied off camera that the issue
will be raised on June 16.
Inner City Press asked but the UN and US diplomats about the issues.
Carolyn Vadino, a spokesperson at the US Mission to the UN, told
Inner City Press that
is firmly against the use of child soldiers by all
sides in any conflict. U.S. assistance provides salary support to TFG
security forces. Prior to making payments to any individual member of
these forces we take appropriate steps to verify the ages of such
individuals to ensure that we are not funding salaries of anyone
under the age of 18."
in a war-torn
environmental like Mogadishu the US claims full control over the
payments to individual soldiers is not known. Another US official,
speaking only on background, referred to safeguards in "the
Leahy amendment." Clearly, there are more questions to be asked
Lovefest with TFG, May 2010, UN's Ban,
Kouchner, Turks, child soldiers not shown
the June 15 noon
briefing, Inner City Press asked
Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq:
on Somalia, there is this report of the use by the
Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of child soldiers, and this
includes quotes from the UN saying that they’re aware of it. Since
the UN provides training and some funding for the TFG forces, the UN
system does, I’m wondering what safeguards are in place that the UN
itself has not been either training or funding or otherwise involved
in the use of child soldiers by the TFG?
Certainly the United Nations does not approve of
the use of child soldiers anywhere, and we would not encourage any of
that in its operations. If I have any further information on the
specifics of that, I’ll let you know. But certainly, among other
things, tomorrow, we will have as one of the guests at the noon
briefing, Radhika Coomaraswamy, who deals with this issue and you can
certainly ask that of her as well.
watch this site.
UN's North Lawn building on June 14, Inner City Press was
approached by two Somali woman, in from Minneapolis for a conference
on the Millennium Development Goals. The women asked how
to arrange a meeting with new envoy Augustine Mahiga, to tell him of
Somalia's plight before he takes up his post in Nairobi. They spoke
of the lack of opportunity for children in Mogadishu. But these are
not voices that will be heard in Wednesday's Security Council
session. But afterward and on the sidelines, there will be questions
- perhaps even answers.