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On DRC, UN's Human Rights Due Diligence Policy Explained by OHCHR, DPKO Stonewalls

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 26 -- Amid reports of units of the Congolese Army, with which the UN works, burning houses and raping in Goma, Sake and Minova, Inner City Press has for days sought from the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations basic information about these abuses, and its so-called Human Rights Due Diligence Policy.

   DPKO chief Herve Ladsous refused to answer any Press questions, on MONUSCO inaction in Pinga and then Goma and Bukavu, on November 21.

   On November 23 Inner City Press asked in writing regarding MONUSCO's partners, including the FARDC and the Mai Mai and NYATURA with whom they collaborate, asking to know "how the UN's Human Rights Due Diligence Policy was applied to all units MONUSCO is supporting or operating in concert with."

   Ladsous' spokesman Kieran Dwyer replied on November 23, "I am looking into that" -- but three days later, nothing.

  Of MONUSCO's partners the Congolese Army FARDC, the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights reported on November 23:

"Alleged violations carried out by FARDC soldiers include: the wounding of six civilians, including a child,  in the Majengo quarter of Goma on 18 November; the wounding of a man by a FARDC soldier, in Mugunga, in Nyragongo territory, North Kivu , also  on 18 November;  and the looting and burning of houses by FARDC soldiers in Goma, on 19 November."

   The UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights has at least provided basic information to Inner City Press about the Policy, if not its application by DPKO.

   Spokesman Rupert Colville summarized to Inner City Press that "in DRC, because of the large amount of information that UN has been able to gather on individuals composing the FARDC, the application of the policy has so far focused on an elaborate 'profiling mechanism,' which allows MONUSCO to identify individuals with a bad human rights record and ensure their removal from units that will or would benefit from the support provided by the UN."

   More generally, Colville states that "whenever in the context of this support, human rights violations are reported through this monitoring framework, the UN entity has to intervene with these security forces or recipients of support so that these violations are brought to an end and adequately addressed. If despite these interventions, violations continue or are not adequately addressed, the support should be suspended or withdrawn."

   This sounds good. But then which are the FARDC units which OHCHR reported burned houses in Goma after the entry of M23? Who in the UN system has gone out to Minova, where FARDC abuses have been reported by journalists who relatively easily got in?

   At Monday's UN noon briefing, after waiting 60 hours for information DPKO said it was "looking into," Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey:

Inner City Press: I remember you saying last week that one benefit of sort of remaining there is to keep records of abuses. There are many abuses, reports of the FARDC [Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo] and an affiliated militia going to a town called Minova that’s between Sake and Bukavu and looting houses, raping women, so I wonder, has MONUSCO accessed that town and do you have some report on this, on these abuses?

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, we’ll check with DPKO to see what they have on that, Matthew.

   Five hours later, just as for the sixty hours before, no information was provided. In light for example of what MONUSCO is reported to have done, or not done, in Pinga, are they to be trusted to implement on their own, without any oversight or answers, this Human Rights Due Diligence Policy?

Footnote: earlier on Monday Inner City Press reported that it was Susana Malcorra and not Herve Ladsous who went for the UN to the DRC talks in Kampala.

  Then it was discovered -- well, tweeted -- where Ladsous had been: giving a speech to 100 students at the UK Royal College of Defense Studies. In the midst of MONUSCO's radical failure in the Congo, these priorities seem misplaced. Watch this site.

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