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At UN, Peacekeeping Plan for "Drones for Surveillance" Now Confirmed, Criticized

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, March 27 -- Four days after Inner City Press first exclusively reported push-back UN from member states at a proposal by UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous to move toward using drones or "unmanned aerial vehicles," and after Inner City Press asked Ladsous and then a spokesman about it, the UN on Tuesday issued this confirmation:

Subject: Question at the briefing
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 3:25 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Your question today on DPKO: Under-Secretary-General Ladsous mentioned DPKO's feasibility assessment of the use of unarmed drones for surveillance and information gathering in his address to the General Assembly's Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations in February. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Services are in the early stages of exploring the potential use of this technology, including by discussing the required support from Member States if their use is recommended. There are no conclusive findings or recommendations at this stage.

  When this Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations of C-34 failed to reach agreement at 11 pm on Friday ten days ago, several member states told Inner City Press the concerns included not only troops costs and some "political questions" but also Ladsous' "drone and spying" proposal.

  They questioned who would get and use the information collected, beyond the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations or DPKO. Ladsous is the fourth Frenchman in a row to be put atop DPKO; some felt France used DPKO to accomplish its own foreign policy in Cote d'Ivoire last year.

  Now there are questions of who would safeguard the intelligence information Ladsous proposes to use UN resources to collect. Other member states spoke of "communications interception" by Ladsous' DPKO and raised the same concerns.

  On March 26 outside the Security Council Inner City Press asked Ladsous to explain his drone proposal. He did not answer, he refused to even acknowledge the question, by contrast to his two most recent predecessors.

   Inside the Security Council he was trying to glad hand Council member diplomats, but at C-34 a range of member states called him "uninspired" and "incompetent."

  Is this the man you or the UN would or should let run a drone program? Watch this site.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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