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In Cote d'Ivoire Like DRC, UN Airbrushes DPKO Out, In Niambly As Minova

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 1 -- Who will hold the UN accountable when its personnel stand by during murder or rape?

  When top UN Peacekeeper Herve Ladsous took questions on November 30 across First Avenue from the UN, he wouldn't answer Inner City Press' follow-up if his Department of Peacekeeping Operations will ever disclose which battalions of the Congolese Army, which the UN supports, were present in Minova in connection with dozens of rapes.

   In Cote d'Ivoire, Ladsous' DPKO has twice committed to investigating its peacekeepers' inaction or complicity during the murder of perceived Gbagbo supporters in the Niambly Internally Displaced Persons camp in July. Click here for July 21 story by Inner City Press; here for next-day follow up story with UN email to Inner City Press that DPKO was "conducting a full investigation of the incident."

   After this first promise, UN envoy Bert Koenders immediately undercut it by saying his peacekeepers did nothing wrong. He "dismissed allegations that peacekeepers failed in their mandate to protect civilians." Click here for July 27 story by Inner City Press.

   Then after the discovery of more and more bodies in wells around the camp, the UN's Ivan Simonovic today issued a press release calling for an investigation -- by the Ouattara government. He did not advance the questions about the UN's role, and where the two promised UN investigations are.

  Inner City Press asked the UN's special rapporteur on IDPs Chaloka Beyani about Niambly, and he said the UN peacekeepers' rules of engagement were implemented so as to not fire on non-state aggressors. Click here for October 21 story by Inner City Press.

  Beyond describing UN peacekeepers in Niambly standing by just as they would in November in Goma in the DRC, Beyani told Inner City Press the "rules of engagement of UN peacekeeping forces do not allow them open fire civilians if civilians are attacking other civilians." He told Inner City Press he'd heard the same of DPKO missions in South Sudan and Afghanistan.

   DPKO denied it -- but some ask, whom to believe? An independent human rights special rapporteur, or Ladsous' DPKO given its current record?

The UN cites immunity, for example for peacekeepers introducing cholera to Haiti. But the UN, at least Ladsous' DPKO, won't credibly investigate itself.

   While the Congolese Army's role in the rapes at Minova becomes more and more clear, Ladsous insisted on Friday that the raped happened during a "fluid" situation. Then he wouldn't answer if he will ever disclose which FADRC battalions were there, such that the UN's supposed Human Rights Due Diligence Policy can be assessed.

  And where is the UN's investigation of Niambly?

  Maybe Simonovic and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should get more involved and answer. Watch this site.

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