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For Child Soldier Recruiter Chad, 5 Steps in 4 Months In Mali, Ladsous' Rules

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 17 -- Children and Armed Conflict was the topic in the UN Security Council on Monday, with more than two dozen countries saying there should be zero tolerance for the recruitment of child soldiers. But is the UN implementing such zero tolerance?

The elephant in the room, or Council Chamber, was the case of Chad and the UN's mission in Mali set to begin on July 1. Chad is on the UN's list of child soldier recruiters, but is itself being recruited to join the UN mission by Department of Peacekeeping Operations chief Herve Ladsous. Inner City Press first reported on this issue on June 3, here.

Ladsous has spoken of a four month "grace period." Only in the UN could such a grace period, like Ladsous's three strikes and maybe you're out policy on rape, be considered zero tolerance.

The Security Council members spoke first. France's Gerard Araud praised Chad for steps it is said to be taking. But what of the negative precedent of accepting a country currently listed on the child soldier recruitment list as a Troop Contributing County? Nothing on this.

The UK Mission to the UN, when asked last week by Inner City Press, replied through its spokesperson Iona Thomas:

"The UK takes the listing of the Chadian Army in the Secretary Generalís report on Children and Armed Conflict very seriously. We understand there are ongoing discussions between the Chadian government, DPKO and the SRSG on Children and Armed Conflict to address Chadís obligations on the CAAC agenda. It is important that Chad fulfils these obligations as soon as possible and we are monitoring this closely."

  After Monday's Security Council session, Inner City Press again asked the SRSG on Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui about Chad and the Mali mission, MINUSMA.

   She said that there are five short term items Chad must comply with. When? She said, during the "grace period" -- that is, Ladsous' four months.

Even if that could be described as zero tolerance -- it can't -- it must be recalled that even after Ladsous belatedly threatened to withdraw support from two Congolese Army units implicated in the mass rapes at Minova in November 2012, Ladsous never in fact suspended support, despite only three people being arrested.

  Three perpetrators for 135 rapes? It is not only on the zero in zero tolerance that Ladsous can apparently not do the math.

  Inner City Press has spoken several times with Chad's Permanent Representative Ahmed Allam-mi, who has also expressed frustration with the UN. If it's that the UN should re-inspect more quickly, then do it.

 But to claim that accepting a country still on the child soldier recruitment list as a troop contributing country is not a precedent against the claimed zero tolerance -- is laughable. Or Ladsous-ian, to coin another phrase. There will be more.

Footnote: In Monday's open debate, contrary to reform requests by the Small Five and now ACT, UK Ambassador Lyall Grant put the Presidential Statement up for decision before non-Council members spoke. The meeting was difficult to cover, again due to the lack of previously existing media workspace at the Council stakeout. Time is ticking on all this. Watch this site.

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