in War Zones Need A Dedicated UN Bureaucrat, Advocates Urge
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, August 7 -- On the systemic issue of women and war,
advocates at the UN in New York have a solution -- to create a new
high level post. This is how problems are dealt with in the UN.
Already there are Assistant Secretaries General rarely seen at
Headquarters or in the field. There is a position of Under Secretary
General for Regional Cooperation, whose occupant Jean-Marie Guehenno
has acknowledged he has been assigned no work.
post on women and
war, however, would be more serious, advocates pitched Inner City
Press on Friday morning. They said there
are countries ready to contribute funds for the post. "It
wouldn't even have to go through the Fifth Committee," one said,
referring to the UN's budget process. By that logic, Coca-Cola could
sponsor an Office of the UN ASG for Soda Studies. There has to be a
women in war zones is of course a serious matter. In instances, the
UN and its peacekeeping missions contribute to the problem
(notwithstanding the UN's
Congo force commander's self-exoneration on
August 6, click here for that.) The advocates say that the purpose
such a post would be to coordinate UN offices' and missions' work on
the issue. Don't nominate a celebrity, they said. But that, too, is
how the UN works.
the UN's basement on August 6, women in the UN's police forces in
Haiti , Congo and South Sudan spoke to a packed room, describing the
plight of victims of sexual violence. But if the UN works and
co-exists with indicted abuses like Jean-Bosco Ntaganda in the Congo,
how can it be seen as the solution? As is so often the case, "first
do no harm" would make most sense.
UN's Ban and the question about women, Anna
Tibaijuka demotion not shown
Even on the
level of bureaucracy there are problems. Earlier this year, Ban Ki-moon
and his Department of Management replaced Anna Tibaijuka
as head of the UN in Nairobi with a German man, Achim Steiner. No real
explanation was ever given, even as local staff and residents
protested. Ban's Gender Advisor, another of these posts, was not even
as the Security
Council's gab-fest debate on the topic began on Friday morning, Inner
City Press asked those entering for their views about the post.
Deputy Secretary General Asha Rose Migiro graciously stopped to shake
hands, and noted that the S-G will be presenting his report. Chief UN
Peacekeeper Alain Le Roy stopped, just before the S-G Ban Ki-moon and
entourage swept by.
Ambassador of Kazakhstan rushed in. "Perhaps
you can fill the post one day," Inner City Press suggested. She
laughed, shook her head no and continued in. There was no other media
around. Thematic debates rarely draw much coverage; we note that when
UN and UNDP
were asked to apply their positions on sexual violence to such real
world hot spots as Sri Lanka, they demanded off the record treatment,
some messaging is necessary, beyond the call for a
new post. The UN needs "less bureaucracy and more sincerity,"
someone remarked. Then the gab-fest began. This will be updated.
Update of August 7,
11:55 a.m. -- Alain Le Roy, exiting the chamber, emphasized to Inner
City Press that there appears to be consensus for a special envoy on
the topic, rank (ASG for example) to be determined...
* * *
in Congo Dodges on Sex Abuse, Bosco and Kashmir, Sudan Blindness,
from Lebanon and from Alan Doss
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, August 6 -- The UN's Mission in the Congo is apparently
continuing its efforts to cover
itself by self-exonerating on sexual abuse by its peacekeepers, and
obtaining a sort of clearance letter from the Congolese government,
war criminal Bosco Ntaganda is not technically part of
the military operations that the UN mission, MONUC, works with.
Press on August 6 asked MONUC force commander Babacar Gaye about
reports that Bosco walks freely around Goma in the Kivus, and about
reports that the Pakistani
battalion was South Kivu was unwilling to
cross the administrative border into North Kivu, manned mostly by
Indian peacekeepers. Video here,
from Minute 45:56.
again, the UN
covered itself: the Pakistanis were "never asked" to cross
the demarcation, even though they were the closest UN peacekeepers.
Rather, General Gaye said, he asked the Uruguayans to respond. Thus
was the reported "Kashmir in
the Kivus" avoided.
about charges of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers,
Gen. Gaye waved around what he said was a report finding not enough
evidence for the charges.He said, "I have the results of the fact
finding, this is the document that I received... there was nothing on
the the ground as evidence that something took place." Video here,
from Minute 41:46. Inner City Press requested a copy of
the report from UN peacekeeping and has been told, "we won't be able to
provide you with the actual document, but will be able to provide a
general summary/read-out of it."
August 5 in the
Security Council, the Permanent Representative of India Hardeep Singh
Puri complained that in UN peacekeeping, "Mission personnel are
forced to ask national contingents to undertake tasks... in a manner
which is inconsistent with the legal framework under which they are
deployed." Video here,
from Minute 48:35.
asked General Gaye to respond to this, and asked Darfur commander
Martin Luther Agwai to respond to reports
that the fighting between
the Sudanese army and the rebels of the Justice and Equality Movement
has spread east into Kordofan.
that the UN can't confirm what it doesn't see, and is not well enough
resourced to speak to the fighting in Kordofan. Video here,
from Minute 51. "They cannot influence anything there," he said. He
spoke, as General
Gaye did, about the difficulty of boundaries. With time running out,
there was no time to ask General Agwai about a separate scandal
UN headquarters and its Medical Service, or to ask
General Gaye the unanswered questions about MONUC
chief Alan Doss,
who emailed the UN Development asking to be shown contractual
"leeway" and for his daughter to be hired.
Gen. Gaye and Alan Doss, one self-exonerates, the
other doesn't answer
may be answering additional questions on August 7. With MONUC's Alan
Doss, UNDP has still not answered, and the UN Secretariat pretends it
doesn't even know what Doss converted to a DKPO contract. Watch this
All week, dozens of medal covered generals are in UN headquarters
this week, but only Generals Agwai and Gaye were presented to the
media for a press conference. Nearly all questions were directed to
Darfur commander Martin Luther Agwai. While he spoke, Congo commander
Babacar Gaye flipped through his note book, while master of
ceremonies Michele Montas pointed from side to side of the briefing
room yielding question after question about Darfur.
despite numerous requests, the commander of UNIFIL in Lebanon General
Graziano refused to speak to the media, although on August 5 when the
Security Council adjourned for lunch he was seen walking toward the
UN Delegates' Dining Room with DPKO chief Alain Le Roy.
5, Inner City Press asked Le Roy how his Department's
Horizons" non-paper applied to sending a UN peacekeeping mission
to Somalia. Le Roy said that a peacekeeping mission is an
accompaniment to a political strategy, not a substitute for one. But
what is the UN's strategy in the Congo -- beyond blind support of
Joseph Kabila and the Congolese Army -- and, even more so, in Darfur?
Watch this site.
of August 6, 6:40 p.m. -- in response to Inner City Press' request
for a copy of the document General Gaye waved around on-camera, the
8/6/2009 6:32:01 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
in regard to General Gaye's comments in Room 226 today
your questions about General Gaye's comments in relation to the
fact-finding mission sent to eastern DRC, we've double-checked the
video recording and can confirm that General Gaye did not use the
exact words were: "Yes, we sent a fact-finding mission in the
localities in South Kivu and North Kivu where allegedly there was SEA
cases. I have the results of this fact-finding mission. This is the
document that I received. Unfortunately, or [do] we say fortunately,
most of the time the accusations, the allegations, are not precise
enough to see soemthing on ther ground and that is why we have
decided to send as soon as possible a fact-finding mission every time
there is this kind of accusation. You know that it is up to OIOS to
investigate this kind of things. But this fact-finding mission is the
way for us to react as promptly as possible in order at least to send
evidence and so on and so forth. In both cases, that probably your
question is related to, there was nothing on the ground for being
evidence that something took place."
relation to that document which General Gaye referred to, please find
below a summary of it:
United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
(MONUC) dispatched on 23 July a fact-finding mission to eastern Congo
to reinforce preventive measures against sexual exploitation and
abuse (SEA) by peacekeepers. This initiative follows the appointment
last year of 48 military officers to act as focal points within
MONUC’s national troop contingents, to strengthen field training
programs on SEA and the reporting of offenses.
fact-finding team interviewed internally displaced persons, local
leaders and medical staff in the areas of Goma-Sake and Rutshuru but
did not record any allegation of SEA committed by peacekeepers, nor
did it bring to light new factual elements that would require the
opening of a formal investigation.
fact-finding team was led by a senior MONUC military officer,
supported by an independent military officer and two civilian staff
from MONUC’s Conduct and Discipline Unit (CDU) one of them a
female. A CDU staff remains based in Goma, the capital of North Kivu
to liaise with and alert the UN’s investigative arm of possible
* * *
UN Peacekeeping, Lost Horizon of Somalia and Sexual Abuse, Chad
Mission Half Staffed
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, July 28 -- Faced with demands to deploy peacekeepers in
Somalia, to stop rape while working with rapists in the Congo and to
police restive crowds in Haiti, the UN Department of Peacekeeping
Operations has produced a report, which a UN official calls a "cry
from the heart," called New Horizons.
On July 27 two UN
officials who declined to be identified by name described the report
and conundrums to a handful of reports on the UN's 37th floor. They
called a budget cut of seven percent cut from what they'd asked for
"doable," they described trying to get peacekeepers from
new countries like Vietnam.
asked what the report is suggesting on the topics of sexual abuse and
exploitation, procurement irregularities like the no-bid Lockheed
Martin contract in Darfur, and on the human rights records of the
troops the UN takes, from countries like Sri Lanka and Fiji or
perhaps one day Myanmar and North Korea. Strangely, these relatively
obvious issues for UN Peacekeeping are neither the focus nor in some
cases even mentioned in the report.
sexual abuse and
exploitation, such as charges against the Moroccan contingent in Cote
d'Ivoire or the Sri Lankan troops in Haiti, an official argued
that upon repatriation to their countries, the peacekeepers are often
disciplined. Inner City Press asked, then why doesn't the UN report
said that some countries inform the UN
confidentially of the outcomes, but do not consent to make it public.
The UN shouldn't be surprised that its reputation suffers. Since the
UN pays countries for peacekeepers, why not make the public reporting
of discipline a condition of the the payments? It's not in the
report, which might thus be called "Lost Horizons," a lost
previously told Inner City Press, after a question was left generally
unanswered on camera at the stakeout by chief peacekeeper Alain Le
Roy that DPKO has proposed that peacekeepers be tried in the
communities they are charged in, but under the law of their own
country. But member states, he said, shot down this proposal.
added with helpful but too rare candor that the countries in the
General Assembly jealously keep control of UN Peacekeeping, not
wanting it taken over for example by the Nordics, with their ideas of
a permanent rapid deployment force, or such countries as France,
which in Cote d'Ivoire and Chad keeps its own national troops
alongside more constrained UN forces.
named as the largest UN missions those in Congo, Sudan and Chad and
the Central African Republic. Two hours later, Inner City Press asked
Victor Angelo, the chief of the UN Mission in Chad and the Central
African Republic which known by the French or feline acronym
MINURCAT, how the New Horizons plan would help him get deployment in
MINURCAT up from the current less than half. Video here.
answered about stopping child soldier recruitment, which Inner City
Press had previously asked about, but did not name any change New
Horizon would bring. Lost Horizons, then?
UN's Le Roy and the Lost Horizon
soldiers don't deploy because their equipment is not ready. Inner
City Press asked about the case of a French EUFOR soldier shooting an
killing a Togolese peacekeeper serving the UN. Angela acknowledged
the incident -- the only violent killing of a UN peacekeeper
regarding which the UN did not issue a statement, either at the
request of France or because the story was too isolated and strange
-- and said that the shooter from EUFOR was caught two or three days
later and is on trial in France. Will France report the outcome?
Horizon will be
the subject of a Security Council debate on August 5. It will not,
the official said, just sit on the shelf, since it is written in
prose reminiscent of Hemingway. He acknowledged, however, that
despite all this planning ahead, the current renovation of the UN
will leave some DPKO staffers twenty minutes away on Madison Avenue.
Press suggested they speed to meet with Le Roy on a fleet
of Segways. The official envisioned bicycles instead: send in the
clowns. Back to the
future, Lost Horizons, a laudable mission hamstrung by politics,
excuse making and lack of follow through. We will cover the August 5
while the UN can unilaterally declare the officials it produces to
answer question to be anonymous, what is seen with the eye is still
for now on the record. On the 27th floor on Tuesday morning was Oscar
Fernandez-Taranco, who only the day before briefing the Security
Council the Middle East, but afterwards did not speak to the Press at
the stakeout, or to a reporter who tried by the elevators. If the UN
has a story to tell...
on the 37th
floor was UN envoy to Somalia Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, who asked Inner
City Press, perhaps as a joke, who had invited it so high. Inner City
Press was told that his presence on the Peacekeeping floor on Tuesday
was only because they have a big conference room, that the briefing
was humanitarian and included John Holmes, who has yet to speak on
Sri Lanka's backtracking on commitments to release its detainees or
its self-exoneration in the murder of 17 aid workers from Action
Contre la Faim.
In an attempt
to get something at least on the
record, Inner City Press at the subsequent noon briefing ask if Ould
Abdallah will have a media availability on July 29 after he briefs
the Council. Video here, from Minute 18:07. He has been in New York
for some days, the official answered -- Inner City Press saw him in
the increasingly empty UN cafeteria on Monday -- and he will be asked
to speak to the Press. We'll be here.
* * *
UN's $8.2 Billion
Peace Budget Faces 2.5% Cut, S. Korea Puts Congo
Drones on Block?
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, June 8 -- Anyone can call for peace, but who will pay for
it? That question was being debate, or at least discussed, in the
basement of the UN past 10 p.m. on Monday night. The UN's Fifth
(Budget) Committee had passed its end of May deadline and still the
$8.2 billion peacekeeeping budget was in dispute.
The U.S, Japan,
European Union and surprise Westerner South Korea are proposing a 2.5
percent across the board reduction in all peacekeeping missions'
budgets. The phrase, taken from the Western Sahara draft of June 6, was
a decision "to reduce the Mission's overall operational costs by a
further 2.5 per cent to be accommodated through efficiency savings."
The Group of 77 and China are resisting.
the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known by its
French acronym MONUC. The Advisory Committee on Administrative and
Budgetary Questions' "recommendations on the financing of MONUC
would entail an overall reduction of $66,818,200 or some 4.7 percent
of the Mission's overall budget," mostly due to the local
elections MONUC will support being put back into 2010.
on the other hand, "is concerned that the cuts proposed by the
ACABQ could negatively impact on the effective functioning of the
from public speeches. Consider, however, the confidential
presentation of the Secretariat to ACABQ, the slide script of which
Inner City Press has been given by a well-placed source. The
Secretariat argued that "the budget before you is not a
maintenance budget based on routine operations." Instead the
Secretariat proposed "an increase of $235 million compare to
2008/09... 168 new posts and positions directly related to the surge
is the 3,000 additional personnel called for the Security Council
during the CNDP fighting in the Kivus, before the house arrest and
Nkunda and incorporation
of indicted war criminal Jean-Bosco
Ntanganda into the Congolese Army, where he has worked in connection
with UN-supported operations according to Congolese records. While
troubling, this should at least save money, no? No. The Secretariat
still proposed ever-increased spending.
come, the document says, from "troops from Bangladesh, Egypt and
Jordan... The new Egyptian battalion will be deployed to South Kivu
and the Bangladeshi will be deployed to Ituri... while the Jordan
Special Forces company will be positioned in North Kivu."
Interestingly, the budget includes "$18 million additional
requirements for 2 UAVs" -- unmanned aerial vehicles, the drones
MONUC chief Alan Doss requested at the turn of the year.
UN's Ban and Doss (not
Mountain) in DRC, budget cuts not shown
Committee sources emphasized to Inner City Press the news value of
South Korea's position. Here you have Ban Ki-moon, one source spun,
putting his name on proposals to increase peacekeeping budgets by
almost five percent, while his home country South Korea has joined
the push to instead cut the budgets by 2.5 percent.
"who's kidding who?" All we could say is "whom."
(On this front it must be said that the Secretariat's presentation to
ACABQ has some laughable typos. It refers for example to "the
Pakistanese battalion." But we digress.)
Delegates' Lounge, a proponent of the Haiti mission's budget told
Inner City Press that MINUSTAH, as it's known, spends 100% or more of
its budget. Mission head Hedi Annabi is called Napoleonic. Other
missions, in their start up phase or even earlier, like Somalia,
might face even steeper cuts.
all of this,
the chief of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le
is slated to travel from June 9 to 23 to West Africa. He will stop
first in Nigeria, where 27 peacekeepers have been sentence to jail
for life for protesting not being paid after a UN mission. Another
peacekeeper, female, says she was pressured for sex while on mission.
As a now-dead rapper sang, More money, more problems.
Roy will head
to Cote d'Ivoire, where Laurent Gbagbo keeps putting off the promised
election. When will the mission draw down? The force in Liberia,
too, is called larger than needs be. In the basement, however, it is
a question of whose ox is gored. Watch this site.
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
Click here for Inner City Press' Jan.
16, 2009 debate about Gaza
Click here for Inner City Press'
review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate
Click here for Inner
City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger
Click here from Inner City Press'
December 12 debate on UN double standards
Click here for Inner
City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017
earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
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