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After UN Stonewalls ICP on Use of PMC Saracen, GPF Adds DynCorp & G4S

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 10, updated thrice -- Might a new report on the UN's use of private military contractors shake it out of denial?

  The UN's use of PMCs or even mercenaries became a subject of contention back in April, when the Department of Peacekeeping Operations declined to confirm to Inner City Press its use of the PMC Saracen Uganda, part owned by a relative of Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni.

  After several rounds of questions and stonewalling, Inner City Press simply published the contract information:


Provision of Unarmed Security Services at Entebbe and Kampala
1-Aug-10 to 31-Jul-11 $170,685 MONUSCO

Security services $132,935 11KIN-200211 MONUSCO

Security services $144,648 12KIN-200059 MONUSCO

  Only after Inner City Press published this did DPKO's spokesman belatedly admit (and spin) it, writing to Inner City Press that:

"I have a response on the parts of your questions related to MONUSCO. On private security more generally, I am still following up. Question: Is MONUSCO using the services of SARACEN, a Ugandan private security company?

"MONUSCO contracts private unarmed security companies to assist in access control procedures in all of its compounds. Saracen is contracted by MONUSCO for these purposes at its base in Entebbe, Uganda."

  Inner City Press noted that while DPKO did not provide that actual contract information which Inner City Press published, this information says Saracen is under UN contract in Kampala as well. Inner City Press then awaited the response on "private security more generally."

But soon thereafter DPKO chief Herve Ladsous said publicly he would not answer any more Inner City Press questions due to critical coverage. And DPKO has in fact provided no information on this since.

Now comes a detailed report from Lou Pingeot of Global Policy Forum, which recounts not only Saracen and MONUSCO, but the use of DynCorp by UNOPS and UNDP. (Click here for Inner City Press' so-far eight-part series on UN and UNDP corruption in Afghanistan).

  GPF also cited G4S, which the UN Global Compact has allowed to join, telling Inner City Press its operations are "legal."

One hopes the GPF study will cause the UN to reform, or at least or relately that Ladsous, who has proved resistant to criticism and questions for example about his proposal that DPKO should use drones, will at least read it.

Inner City Press asked for a response at Tuesday's noon briefing, and at 3 pm the following arrived:

In response to questions on private security contractors
The UN system has been working to develop a draft policy which proposes a decision making framework and framework of accountability for the use of armed private security companies by the United Nations. A draft policy was approved by the Inter Agency Security Management Network at its last meeting in June 2012.
The draft policy provides the structure for the assessment process for the use of private security contractors and articulates that such companies may only be used in circumstances where the provision of armed security by the host country, another member state, or United Nations resources are not possible or appropriate. The policy emphasizes the need for strict protocols concerning the use of force. It also describes the management and oversight responsibilities of the United Nations.
Other issues the draft policy deals with include guidelines on the roles and responsibilities of United Nations personnel in the decision to use armed private security contractors, criteria for recommending the use of armed private security contractors and screening and training requirements.  The Working Group produced a Statement of Work for use by the Office of Legal Affairs to develop a model contract for how to engage an armed private security contractor that has been selected.
The draft policy is still in the process of being approved by the UN system.
Regarding the larger issue on whether it is appropriate to use armed private security contractors, we believe it is appropriate that if they are used we ensure due diligence. UN contracting policies have improved and we need to continue to improve them.  The distinct differences in the ways that private security contractors go about their work also must be borne in mind.

   And, very quickly, this reply from the report's author:

"Hi Matthew, Thanks for sending. System-wide guidelines for armed private security are a step in the right direction, but it’s also definitely a case of too little, too late. As the report shows, the problem is not limited to armed private security. What matters is less the services that the companies provide than their nature. These guidelines would still leave a lot of issues unaddressed when it comes to unarmed private security (UN contracts with Saracen, for instance) and other services provided by PMSCs, such as risk assessment or even demining. Further, there is concern among some UN staff critical of this process (concern that I share) that these guidelines are but a fig leaf, meant to show that the UN is “doing something” when in fact it hasn’t even begun to ask the right questions about PMSCs – do they really make the UN safer? The report addresses some of these issues on page 39.

"In addition, I would argue that the “last resort” argument (the UN would only use them when it has no other options, i.e. host state, another member state or UN own resources) is a bit of a red herring. How do you decide that these other options have been exhausted, especially when it comes to UN staff? There is evidence that the UN hasn’t given enough thought to the possibility of increasing its own resources rather than relying on PMSCs, which have never proven to be cheaper."

   And more from the author of the report, at 5:45 pm --

The idea that you can “compartimentalize” the services that these companies offer is an illusion. This is something we examine in detail in the report, when we look at the case of employees of a company which was providing election support to the UN in Afghanistan. The employees – providing something that had apparently nothing to do with armed private security - turned out to have concealed weapons that they were more than ready to use when they felt the situation called for it.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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