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UN's Ladsous Solicits Drones for Mali, UN Says CAR Approval Needed

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 14 -- When UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous pushed through his proposal to use drones or “unmanned unarmed aerial vehicles” in Eastern Congo, he said that it was a pilot and that any further use would require another approval.

But on May 5, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq about Ladsous pitching drones in the Central African Republic -- and now Inner City Press reports that Mali has arisen as well, and "any [UN] peacekeeping mission."

From the UN's May 5 transcript:

Inner City Press: while Under-Secretary-General Ladsous was in Bangui, he gave a press conference and he discussed the use of unmanned/unarmed aerial vehicles or drones in the CAR ( Central African Republic). So, I wanted to know, is it the UN’s position that the current MINUSCA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic) resolution would permit use of drones or is this something that they would have to come back to the Security Council or some other organ of the United Nations to get approval for?

Deputy Spokesman Haq: I believe that the current resolution does not mention unmanned aerial vehicle, so any further deployment of that would require the Security Council consideration as far as I’m aware.

  But the UN at Ladsous' direction has been soliciting expressions of interest, until today, for drones or UAVs initially for use in northern Mali, where Ladsous' native France has an UNdisclosed letter of assist under which other UN member states will be paying it for airfield services.

  (Outgoing French Ambassador Gerard Araud in December, his last Council presidency, refused to substantively answer Inner City Press' questions about the letter of assist, and now doesn't answer Press questions at all.)

The question is, if as stated on May 5 any UN use of drones or UAV outside of the Congo requires another approval, why is Ladsous soliciting drones for Mali?

  In fact, the solicitation which we put online here says "While the initial deployment of UAS is expected to be based in a particular UN Mission future deployment could be in any peacekeeping mission" --

UN/PD is seeking Expressions of Interest (EOI) for the provision of Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) with multiple Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in support of peace-keeping operations in Mali with the basing of one system at Timbuktu and Gao.

The UAS provider will be an independent contractor who remains in control of the system and aircraft and shall be responsible for operation and maintenance of the aircraft. The flight operating crew and all maintenance personnel shall at all times remain the servant or agent of the contractor. All staff and equipment necessary for the operation of the aircraft are expected to be self-sufficient for all technical and subsistence requirements, although in some locations, accommodation and meals may be provided within UN compound for security of personnel or lack of alternative. The staff of the independent contractor will operate closely with UN aviation and military personnel and interact with the host nation as and when required. The contractor must provide staff to track, control, monitor the UAS and provide analysis of data received, working closely with Mission contacts. While the initial deployment of UAS is expected to be based in a particular UN Mission future deployment could be in any peacekeeping mission.

It is expected that contracts will be for a period of 3 years, extendable at the option of the UN to 4 and 5 years, and will generally apply to a single mission area. UAV capability should provide long endurance and be able to fly long range to a point of interest, loiter on patrol and return to base.

   Herve "the Drone" Ladsous - we will pursue. Watch this site.


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