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In S. Sudan, Rights Diligence Dubious, UNenforced in DRC by Ladsous

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 27 -- With the UN Security Council set to amend its South Sudan mission's mandate, including support to Juba's police ostensibly subject to the UN's "Human Rights Due Diligence Policy," what does that Policy actually mean?

  It is supposed to mean that the UN will not support units which engage in abuse for which they are not held accountable.

  But in the Democratic Republic of Congo, after only two FARDC soldiers were convicted for more than 130 rapes in Minova in November 2012, UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous has NOT suspended support to the 41st and 391st Battalions implicated in the rapes.

  Ladsous refused to answer questions about the rapes, and has provided no explanation since the impunity ruling in the DRC. Inner City Press asked again at the May 27 UN noon briefing.

  So are Council members fooling themselves, or others, by saying it's meaningful that UNMISS' support in South Sudan would be under this UNexplained and UNenforced "Human Rights Due Diligence" policy?

  And, separately, what of UNMISS chief Hilde Johnson welcoming and taking photographs with David Yau Yau? We'll have more on this.

Background: after the May 12 South Sudan speech of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcoming “the ceasefire agreement signed in Addis Ababa on Friday,” Inner City Press asked Ban about the ceasefire being broken, and elections now delayed two or three years.

  Ban replied that he is disappointed that the ceasefire “was not honored in Bentiu,” and said he is engaged with the regional IGAD leaders about it. UN Transcript below. Ban did not respond on the delay in elections, even as he called for the elections in (parts of) Ukraine to go forward this May 25.

  Ban's opening statement to the press also addressed Boko Haram's kidnappings in Nigeria, saying he has sent UN envoy Said Djinnit there.

  He did not bring up Syria, but two of the questioners selected for him by his spokesman brought up Syria: the projected departure of envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, and if Ban, said to be too mild on accountability in Syria, supports a referral to the International Criminal Court.

  Inner City Press has reported on a close ally of Tunisia's former dictator Ben Ali Kamel Morjane being in the running to replace Brahimi: would that reflect weakness on commitment to democracy?

  The cynically sculpted resolution to refer to the ICC not all of Syria, to exclude the Golan Heights and even some fighting Assad, reflects weakness not strength on international justice. But perhaps that can be addressed in Ban's next press availability. Watch this site.

  Footnotes: in fairness the Free UN Coalition for Access opines that this Ban press availability was better than many of Ban's in the past. It was not limited to, although it featured many, of the insiders of the UN Correspondents Association who met with Ban and used some quotes but never released a tape or transcript. It included some less than fawning questions. And, we'd say for both those reasons, Ban did better than usual. Could it be a trend? We'll see.

  On the other hand we have to note that standing to the side of Ban's stakeout was his head of Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous, who outright refuses to answer Press questions such as the interplay between the UNMISS mission and the IGAD force.

  In the face of mounting, factual questions about UN Peacekeeping, including Ban's Human Rights Due Diligence Policy in the aftermath of a mere two convictions for 130 rapes by Congolese Army units the UN supports, this cannot continue. What this site.

Update with UN Transcript:

Inner City Press: You praised the agreement – the South Sudan agreement that was reached in Addis. But it seems that since then, both sides have said that the ceasefire has been broken, and also the Government of Salva Kiir has said there will be no election in 2015; that it should be put back two or three years. I wondered if you think that is a good thing for the country, and also what role does IGAD regional force, in your view, should play with UNMISS? Should they coordinate militarily? Should it be under UNMISS? What does the UN think of that?

SG: It is disappointing that this agreement on Friday has not been implemented and has not been honored. The fighting has taken place in the area of Bentiu, and I am urging the two leaders to abide by their agreement.

At the same time, the special envoys of IGAD met this morning to discuss this matter. We will continue to work with the IGAD leadership. I myself, as well as my Special Representative, Hilde Johnson, will continue to contact both leaders, so that they are committed to meet their obligations which they signed just a few days ago.

When political leaders commit themselves, they should honour their commitment. We will continue to do that, and I asked the Security Council that they should continuously be engaged, and render strong political messages, including taking necessary measures.


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