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On Child Soldiers, Of FSA & UNICEF Backpacks, French Hypocrisy in CAR

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 9 -- When Children and Armed Conflict was the topic in the UN Security Council on March 7, and more than 60 member states addressed it, they left a basic piece of UN accountability UNaddressed.

The head of UN Peacekeeping has allowed one of the UN listed recruiters of child soldiers to participate in blue helmets in the UN Peacekeeping mission in Mail, and prospectively in the Central African Republic -- and had refused to answer Press questions about it. See March 6 video, here, at 4:40 and 5:55; here for UK and video compilation.

  So while speech after speech at the UN says how serious the issue is, it is all undercut by UN Peacekeeping's actual, UNexplained practice.

  This month's Security Council president, Sylvie Lucas of Luxembourg, is willing to answer questions. But on this one, when Inner City Press asked at the beginning of the month at her Program of Work press conference, Lucas referred to Ladsous and something he supposedly said in an event outside of the UN. Ladsous left that event early, after at most nine minutes of questions most of which were taken up, filibuster-style, by his own DPKO staff.

  Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, under whom Ladsous has been allowed to be UNaccountable, began the proceedings by citing a UN rule against peacekeepers using schools. But apparently there is no rule against the UN using a child soldier recruiter.

  Anthony Lake of UNICEF, who also answers questions, spoke next. But it remains unclear what the UN system did when Salva Kiir's South Sudan army, to which UN Peacekeeping has provided support, used blue UNICEF backpacks as they marched off toward armed combat with Riek Machar's forces this year.

US Ambassador Samantha Power praised the UN going to Myanmar -- she called it Burma -- in search of an action plan. But she did not mention: the UN, under Vijay Nambiar, has invited Myanmar's army to send soldiers to Ladsous' UN Peacekeeping.

Later, Sri Lanka Ambassador Palitha Kohona told stories of how seriously the Rajapaksa government takes the protection of children. But as simply one example, what about the documented execution of a 12-year old up in what even the UN called the "Bloodbath on the Beach"?

  French Ambassador Gerard Araud, who has "gone Ladsous" and refuses to answer Press questions while issuing dubious denials off-camera at the Security Council stakeout, said there is a UN "dialogue" with the Free Syrian Army.

  But the UN's Leila Zerrougui, who does answer answers, later acknowledged on camera that there is no Action Plan. So how can France and others provide support to the FSA, and claim they're taking the child soldier recruitment issue seriously?

Araud last week claimed that there IS no Navi Pillay report that France's disarming the ex Seleka in Central African Republic put Muslim communities at risk -- but here it is. (For more on France's dubious deals in Africa, click here.)

  Araud earlier this year denied that French diplomat Romain Serman, now the country's consul in San Francisco, was detained by New York police for attempted cocaine purchase -- but here is that record.

 Did Araud, as he claims, not tell Javier Barden that on Western Sahara, Morocco is France's mistress? Is there no Navi Pillay report on France putting Muslims at risk?

  The Philippines spoke and criticized a UN report linking the areas impacted by Haiyan to "armed conflict," saying there are totally separate regions. But as Araud's recent denials and joining Ladsous in unaccountability show, this is the new UN.

  Children and armed conflict is a serious topic, but it's too easy to denounce some armed groups like making excuses for others, then incorporated a listed recruiter into UN Peacekeeping and allow its boss, the fourth Frenchman in a row in the position, to refuse to answer questions about it.

 This is what the UN has become. Watch this site.


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