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India for UN Peacekeeping Summit Wants More Say For TCCs, Ladsous "R&R" Link

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 23 --  India has been the largest contributor to UN Peacekeeping -- 185,000 troops in 44 of the UN's total of 69 missions -- so Inner City Press on September 23 at the Waldorf Astoria after the arrival of Indian Prime Minister Modi asked what India is looking for from the Peacekeeping summit Modi will attend on September 28.

  India's Ambassador to the UN Ashoke Mukerje replied that India would like Troop Contributing Countries to be consulted more meaningfully, citing Article 44 of the UN Charter; he emphasized India's skilled personnel and the protection of civilians. Periscope video here.  Inner City Press asked about DPKO boss Ladsous' comments linking rapes to “R&R,” Mukerje's earlier response is below.

  (The venue of Modi's meeting with Obama is not yet clear; the G4 Summit will occur Saturday September 26 at 8 am in the Waldorf, after which Modi heads to the West Coast including, yes, Facebook.

The buzz at the Indian press conference was how large the (Empire) room was, and of Modi staying in what used to be Obama's and other US Presidents' suite.)

When peacekeepers from France allegedly raped children in the Central African Republic and the UN learned about it more than a year ago, the UN and UNICEF did nothing, until French UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous asked to fire the whistleblower Anders Kompass in March of this year, as stated in two UN Dispute Tribunal rulings.

  On September 11, refusing to answer on this, Ladsous instead linked the rapes to soldiers' lack of "distraction" and saying rapes could be avoided by some "relatively cheap R&R," and adding that some "South Asia"Troop Contributing Countries do just that. Video here.

 On September 17, Inner City Press asked the Permanent Representative of India, Asoke K Mukerji, and his Deputy Bhagwant Bishnoi about what Ladsous said. Video here. First, Bhagwant Bishnoi distinguished India from what Ladsous said, saying they only rotate troops in the most difficult circumstances. In some, one a year, if more volatile, more often.

  Then Ambassador Mukerji said clear, India's is a professional army, not a part time army, there are no "R&R" trips and that is for whoever said it to explain. Video here.

  That would be Ladsous, who refuses to answer Press questions. He took no questions as he rushed out of the Security Council on September 17.

 (India's Prime Minister will participate in the high level meeting on peacekeeping on September 28, which we'll cover.)

 On September 17, the UN Mission in CAR, MINUSCA, issued this statement now about a pornographic film involving peacekeepers:

"The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) is deeply concerned at reports of a pornographic film circulating in the city of Batangafo, center-west of the Central African Republic, which allegedly involves peacekeepers.
"MINUSCA immediately took steps to try to verify these disturbing allegations. To this end, MINUSCA met with the Mayor and the Deputy Prefect of the locality, and with representative of the local population.
"A fact finding mission also visited Kabo, about 55 km from Batangafo, to raise the issue with the Mayor and the Deputy Prefect and members of the local community.
"To date, MINUSCA’s contacts with the authorities and local residents have not provided any evidence to substantiate the allegations of a film involving UN personnel.  However, the Mission is committed to establishing the truth and requests that anyone in possession of evidence to substantiate these allegations should submit this to the Mission’s attention. This may be done via any MINUSCA office.
"MINUSCA would like to reiterate its strict adherence to the United Nations’ zero tolerance policy with regard to all acts of misconduct and sexual exploitation and abuse."

  One wag said, once Ladsous linked rapes to recreation, this should not be surprising.

  On September 15 MINUSCA disclosed yet another "allegation of sexual exploitation committed by one of its civilian staff."

  Inner City Press on September 15 asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, transcript here:

Inner City Press:  Since Mr. [Hervé] Ladsous said that one of the reasons these abuses take place is people don't leave the country and go for R&R elsewhere for recreation, one could say, how long has the person been in the country?

Spokesman:  Matthew, I think… I think you continue to gain great pleasure in distorting what Mr. Ladsous said…

Inner City Press:  You can read the transcript.  He said…

Spokesman:  Listen, I think you raised that issue yesterday.  I answered clearly this is a case… a possible case of sexual abuse, which is to be condemned and which will be pursued as far as we can, both internally and with the relevant judicial authorities.

Inner City Press:  How long has it been since the person left the country?  The reason I ask is that he made the linkage.  He's the one that brought up people traveling…  [Cross talk - actually, talk over, by scribes]

Spokesman:  Matthew, I will say this one last time.  Civilian staff and military staff work under two different regimes.  So you're… to compare soldiers that have been in-country in very difficult circumstances for three years and civilian staff is not to be comparable.  Yes, ma'am?
  Later on September 15, Dujarric declined a Press question about what Ladsous said, ironically during a Reditt "Ask Me Anything" session. Ask Me Anything, except...

  On September 14, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about what Ladsous had said, similar to comment which as noted below have gotten other military officials fired, even after they apologized. (Ladsous has not apologized, clarified, or answered any Press questions.) September 14 video here, transcript here:

Inner City Press: I'd wanted to ask you this on Friday or Mr. Ladsous, but I want to ask you, from this podium, he said, in discussing rapes, he said that peacekeepers there don't have enough recreation, that they don't have enough comfort.  He said that they are looking into getting them flights to get them fresh air, and although he did use the word, he's not excusing it.  I'm going to tell, many people saw this as basically a statement that somehow linking the rapes to a lack of other distractions…

Spokesman Dujarric:  I think… I think it's a complete misinterpretation of what Mr. Ladsous said.  He stressed a number of times that there was no excuse...

Inner City Press:  Then what about the flights?  I'm sorry.

Spokesman:  I'm a little over-caffeinated with me today so just bear with me.  He repeatedly said that there was no excuse for rape.  Okay.  That is clear.  That is UN policy, and I think that's everyone's policy.  There is no excuse for rape.  What he said in talking about the case of one contingent that had been deployed in basically a very hardship peacekeeping operation for more than three years.  When troops are not rotated, when troops don't have an opportunity to be rotated out for [rest and recuperation] and that's true for any armed forces, it creates the conditions where there can be all sorts of abuse or other things developing.  It is not an excuse for rape.  And I think it's clear that we have seen rape and horrendous sexual abuse by soldiers in many parts of the world.  Some of them come from very rich armies.  Some come from very poor armies.  There is no excuse.  What he was saying and I think people would agree with it, that three years for any contingent being stationed in very difficult circumstances is too long.

Inner City Press:  I guess what I want to say, US military, an admiral in the Pacific was fired for comments exactly like that for which the person… the person excused himself and apologized… he said distraction, comfort.

Spokesman:  Matthew, Matthew.  I read what you wrote.  I'm aware of the other case.  I think they're complete… they're not comparable.

Inner City Press:  Where are the flights going?  Where are the [rest and recuperation] flights going? 

Spokesman:  I will come back…

  Back in 1995 for similar comments, US Admiral Richard C. Macke was fired, as reported in the LA Times and the New York Times, which said Macke "apologized after members of Congress and Japanese officials complained, but it was too late.... A senior White House official said tonight that Anthony Lake, the national security adviser, had heard of Admiral Macke's remarks and told the Defense Department that the statements were 'not acceptable.'"

  Anthony Lake is now in the UN system, as the head of UNICEF - does he think UN Peacekeeping chief Ladsous' similar comments in 2015 are acceptable? Or does he, apparently like his and some other major member states, hope no one notices what Ladsous says and, worse, does?

  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has yet to act. Nor have Ladsous' French sponsors, who dumped him on the UN after he'd previously been rejected for the post by Ban's predecessor Kofi Annan, said anything.

 When Inner City Press started asking about this, Ladsous took to saying "I don't respond to you, Mister," right on UNTV. Instead he summoned Agence France Presse, Reuters and others to private briefings, as here in the hall. These media didn't report Ladsous' antics -- nor despite being present at Ladsous' September 11 press conference did they report his linkage of soldiers' rapes to their lack of "comfort" or R&R. This is today's UN.

  It was Senegalese Babacar Gaye, the head of the CAR mission, and not overall Peacekeeping chief Ladsous who was fired by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon; Inner City Press obtained and put Gaye's letter online here (credited here and here) citing systemic problems.

  Before Ladsous' carefully controlled four day visit to the country - no questions on the peacekeeper rapes, colonial photographs sent out - UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Inner City Press, which asked, that Ladsous would take questions when he returned, including about peacekeepers' sexual abuse.

But when Ladsous appeared at the September 11 UN noon briefing, UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric for the second time did not allow Inner City Press to ask Ladsous a single question.
Dujarric gave the first question to the UN Correspondents Association, which after a perfunctory questions about the number of sexual abuse cases said its “real” question was if Ladsous will meet Obama. (Yes, apparently, and inappropriately, see below). Video here.

  Inner City Press prepared to ask Ladsous an obvious question: what is his response to appearing in at least two UN Dispute Tribunal rulings as having tried to get the whistleblower Kompass fired? But Dujarric gave the second question to a Reuters reporter who has previously channeled Ladsous, then to Agence France Presse, whose UN reporter in 2011 asked UNCA's board to act on Inner City Press' reporting on Ladsous.

Even with the questions allowed, Ladsous' answers should get him fired. First, speaking of sexual abuse, he said he didn't want to “deflower” the subject. Vine here. Then explaining the peacekeepers' rapes he said that a solution would be to get them more “recreation” (translating back and forth with Dujarric, Ladsous began to say “R and R”).

  Ladsous was asked, what do you mean? He said that Asian countries are good at this. We'll have more, but on top of his role in covering up rapes in DR Congo, Darfur and now CAR, this should get Ladsous fired. More here.


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