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Amid Inaction on 135 Rapes in DRC, Hague of UK Is All Syria, UN Censorship

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 24 -- When UK foreign secretary William Hague appeared before the UN Security Council Monday morning, he said the focus of his trip to New York was sexual violence and conflict, a topic he said would also be addressed through the UK's G8 presidency.

  But even turning his opening statement into one on Syria, the UK Mission to the UN allowed only four questions -- all of them about Syria, and all from a single perspective. Inner City Press, which has covered the 135 rapes in Minova by two units of the Congolse Army that the UN still supports, said, “Question about the DRC? Rapes in Minova?”

  But no. The final question was given, predictably on Syria, to Pamela Falk of CBS News, the 2013 president of UNCA (a/k/a the UN Censorship Alliance). She asked a question with nothing new in it, and the answer was similarly wan.

  As one correspondent put it afterward, why not just do that at the UK Mission, for friendly Western journalists, and not pretend there's a focus on sexual violence in conflict?

The UK has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, but has apparently done nothing to see that the UN's stated conditionality or human rights due diligence policies were implemented after the rapes in Minova.

First, UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous refused to take questions about the Minova rapes on camera (click each to view) on November 27, December 7 and December 18, 2012.

Later, due to persistence, the rapes became known, even on BBC. One imagines that Hague has heard of them. But the four questions he took on Monday were all about Syria. And he had the opportunity.

After belated threatening to pull support from the two battalions implicated in the rapes -- without naming them -- Ladsous removed even this, and now after a mere three arrests for 135 rapes has continued support to the 41st and 391st Battalions.

On May 29, Inner City Press asked Ladsous for an update on accountability for the Minova rapes by the UN's partners. Ladsous said, “You know I do not respond to you.” And since then, despite repeating the question to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokespeople, there has been no update.

Monday's debate, which various UN social media accounts are cravenly tweeting about as if the UN actually followed its own policies on this, should provide the venue for the long-needed update, and action. But not through Hague -- or the UK, apparently. Watch this site.

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