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DiCarlo Is Asked of Congo Sanctions Report, Haiti Cholera, Issues for July

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 2, updated with transcript -- As the US takes over the presidency of the UN Security Council for July, its big debate will be on the the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region on July 25, with Secretary of State John Kerry presiding.

Inner City Press, which exclusively published the full text of the DRC Group of Experts report, asked US Acting Permanent Representative Rosemary DiCarlo on Tuesday about rapes by the DRC Army, both in the new Group of Experts' report and those already in the public record in Minova in November 2012.

  Ambassador DiCarlo said she wouldn't comment on the Group of Expert report before it is formally introduced to the full Security Council, but that the US is “clear with DPKO [the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations] and the TCC [Troop Contributing Countries] that they have to abide by UN guidelines.”

  The problem is, the UN's guidelines have been shifting. It had been said the UN wouldn't support DRC Army units engaged in abuses.

  But even after two units were implicated in the 135 rapes at Minova, DPKO's Herve Ladsous decided to continue to support them. There have been, as confirmed in the Group of Experts' report, only two arrests for the 135 rapes, and some suspensions -- a seemingly lenient punishment for rape.

  Likewise, while many had assumed that one certain consequence for a national army being put on the UN list of child soldier recruiters would be banning for UN peacekeeping missions, Ladsous has given Chad, which is on the Child and Armed Conflict list, a “grace period” of at least four months.

  So what ARE these UN guidelines?

  Ambassador DiCarlo added a reference to the behavior demanded of US forces, and that by answering she was not agreeing with what Inner City Press had said.

  That's fine, but the 135 rapes in Minova have been reported by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the figure of two arrests is from the Group of Experts report, which Inner City Press has put online here exclusively, as credited by Bloomberg News (from Kinshasa).

   Inner City Press also asked Ambassador DiCarlo about the letter by 19 members of the US Congress asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to take responsibility for the introduction of cholera into Haiti. Di Carlo said she hadn't seen the letter, “we'll have to get back to you.” Video here from Minute 19:40. Watch this site.

  DiCarlo is the “charge d'affaies” in UN-ese after Susan Rice went to Washington and before Samantha Power arrives (by the July 29 double reception?) She handled Tuesday's press conference ably. There was no question on Kosovo or the Balkans, the nearest being Cyprus (she nailed it, with a budget reference.)

  Inner City Press thanked her on behalf of the new Free UN Coalition for Access, which pressed June's president Mark Lyall Grant of the UK on the continuing lack of a media worktable at the Security Council stakeout, where one existed before and during the relocation. Watch this site.

From USUN transcript:

Moderator: We’ll go to Matt Lee [Inner City Press]

Reporter: For the new Free U.N. Coalition for Access, thanks for doing this. I wanted to ask about the – I understand you can’t talk about the Groups of Experts on the DRC, but it’s public knowledge this idea of the rapes that took place in Minova back in November. 135 rapes. And there have been two arrests, it appears, so far of the FARDC units involved. One unit was actually trained by the U.S. I wanted to sort of sharpen the question and say, is the U.S. satisfied by DPKO continuing to work with those units? When this GOE report, which is already seen, becomes public, it describes also FARDC units involved in gold mining, child soldiers, and the like, and I just wondered what the U.S. thinks the role of the Council is in ensuring that the UN system doesn’t work with the units involved in these activities?

And also – this is definitely in your national capacity – 19 members of Congress wrote to the Secretary-General last month about the role of the UN in – they said – the introduction of cholera into Haiti – urging them to take greater responsibility and for the UN to do more. And I wonder, is the mission aware of that letter, and has it taken any action, or been asked to by those Congress people, to ensure greater UN action on that issue? Thanks.

Ambassador DiCarlo: Thanks for your question. First of all, again, the report will be studied by the Council, and we will certainly be participating in that discussion. We are, ourselves, in our national capacity, I would say that we ourselves assess reports that we get either from the UN or from elsewhere. We are assessing reports of possible outside interference in the DRC. We continue, obviously, to be very clear with DPKO, with the UN, with troop contributors that we expect them to abide by UN guidelines – that we expect the kind of behavior that we would demand of our own forces, and these are areas that we will continue to look into and continue to make very clear that certain kinds of behavior are not unacceptable. Now I’m not agreeing with what you have said. I’m just saying that in the case that this has been determined, that is our position.

Oh, Haiti cholera. I’m sorry, I haven’t seen that letter, and we’d have to get back to you on that.

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