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UN Uses Mercenaries, UN Expert Says, Citing "French Person" in Libya

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 2 -- "The UN does use private military companies," the Chairperson of the Working Group on Mercenaries Faiza Patel told Inner City Press on Tuesday. Video here, from Minute 11:32.

  At her press conference, Inner City Press asked about Somalia, where the mercenary firm Saracen which is partially owned by a relative of Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni was found to be violating sanctions, Afghanistan and Iraq.

  Of some in the UN system's defense of using Saracen to combat piracy, Patel told Inner City Press that "the UN system is a large beast."

  Earlier she had said that the UN is "very aware" of the mercenary issue, and has a program to coordinate its use of private military companies to ensure that those charged with human rights violations are not used.

   When Inner City Press just after the press conference asked for details of this UN program and whether it is in the Department of Safety and Security, Patel said she wasn't sure. She said that while the UN and its agencies use private military companies in many countries, Iraq is not one of them.

  But she did not know that there is in that country, from which the US and its protection are slated to leave, a new Special Representative of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. We hope to have more on this.

Patel said she will soon visit and report on Cote d'Ivoire and Libya. Inner City Press asked if the focus in Libya will only by on Gaddafi's use of mercenaries, or would include trainers provided by such countries as Qatar and France. Video here, from Minute 21:33.

  Patel said, you must be aware of "a French person killed, setting up a private security company" in Benghazi. Yes -- but will that be investigated for her report? Watch this site.

Ms. Patel under NYU banner, referring to UN as "our" not shown

  Ms. Patel is employed at the Brennan Center at NYU, and was described at the beginning of the press conference as "independent of all governments." She did criticize Equatorial Guinea, which she visited. But some might say she is not independent of the UN, saying for example that peacekeeping missions are "our" interaction with the world.

   Beyond this symptomatic pronoun problem, she was also very quick to try to say the UN's use of private military companies is per se better than governments, without being able to provide specifics. She tried to say that securing a convoy would bring about "engagement with civilians" and a "human rights incident" more than providing "static security or close protection." Why?

   And what of UN Peacekeepers themselves, and the human rights incidents created in places like Haiti, and inaction in places like South Kordofan? A person in Ms. Patel's position should be or try to be scrupulously independent of the UN as well, as least its Secretariat. We'll see.

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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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