HEADLINES

Part Three: Humanitarian Crises – UN Fails To Protect “At-Risk” Nations

By Alistair Reign, June 28, 2016. Alistair Reign News Blog.

To give credit where it is due, the United Nations started out with the best of intentions; with a mission set forth to prevent another holocaust and other crimes against humanity.

The time was the end of WWII, and the enormous task of convincing countries once at war to “Unite as One Nation” was accomplished by several leaders of humanity, and the UN Charter was born – a signed agreement of what constitutes humane treatment, equal rights, rules of war and international law.

Part One: Humanitarian Crises – Increased Exponentially In 2015.
Part Two: Humanitarian Crises – Crimes Against “At Risk” Children.

putin o reallyUnited Nations In Crisis

However, times have changed and on the 10th of this month UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon’s statements to the Security Council committee have lost their original potency:

Protecting civilians is an overarching responsibility involving all the critical functions of the United Nations: human rights, humanitarian, political and peacekeeping.

Today the past accomplishments of the United Nations has lost their shine, as has the UN lost its effectiveness. In fact, the UN committees have proven powerless in matters of serious crimes against humanity openly committed worldwide.

United Nations is no longer a cure for a sick world. Evidence is in the inhumanity we see around us; committed by the very same seated members of the United Nations we count on to protect us.

  1. The serious crimes committed by peacekeepers have gone unpunished.
  2. The war crimes by Saudi Arabia and Israel are accepted with impunity.
  3. The rise of Daesh, and the validation of their terrorist Islamic states.
  4. The barbaric and public punishments inflicted on children and women.

In this chapter I will cover humanitarian crisis number one:
Non-accountability of UN Peacekeeper crimes.

1. United Nations Peacekeepers

UN Peacekeepers are just as likely to inflict cruelty on the suppressed people they are charged with protecting, as the warring armies and extremists. Peacekeeping officers have been accused of engaging in serious criminal offenses such as sexual abuse, sex-trafficking, soliciting prostitutes, sexually abusing minors and forcing children into prostitution.

 UN peacekeepers north of Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Reforms introduced over the past decade have failed to stamp out sex crimes by UN peacekeepers. Photograph: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

UN peacekeepers north of Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Reforms introduced over the past decade have failed to stamp out sex crimes by UN peacekeepers.  (Photo: Yasuyoshi Chiba/ AFP/ Getty).

In November (2015), United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced he intends to start naming and shaming countries whose troops and police serving in UN peacekeeping missions face credible accusations of sexual abuse and exploitation.

This statement came a day after he took the unprecedented move of firing the head of the peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic over the handling of dozens of misconduct allegations. The latest, brought on Tuesday by Amnesty International against the mission’s police officers, included the indiscriminate killing of a teen and his father, and rape of the daughter, a twelve-year-old (12) girl.

“”Considering the gaps in the system for reporting, investigating and prosecuting sexual abuse allegations,” (US Ambassador Samantha) Power said, the number of actual allegations against peacekeepers “could be far worse”.” [01]

There is a reason for this increasing phenomenon.

In fact, the magnitude of sexual violence and exploitation committed by peacekeeping forces on local populations, together with the U.N. response to them, has become central topics for discussion and analysis for many.

It was previous UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, in November 2004, first pledged to eliminate the scourge of sexual abuse from the United Nations peacekeepers.

The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) statistics from their 2005 report: from the one-hundred-fifty-five (152) peacekeeping personnel dismissed for misconduct, one-hundred-seventeen (117) were members of military contingents. Besides deciding on administrative penalties against the one-hundred-seventeen (117) military officers, the United Nations has no legal authority to bring up criminal charges or enforce prosecution.

All the United Nations can do is send the officer back to his troop-contributing country, “but it cannot ensure the prosecution of that person once they have returned home” (Murphy, 2006, p.532). Typically, the environment in which the U.N. personnel operate is one where there are weak and ineffective judicial and law enforcement structures, a collapsed economy and corrupt institutions.

All of these factors create chaos and disorder that consequently facilitate misconduct.

However, “while these conditions certainly foster situations in which sexual abuse occurs or in which the likelihood of sexual abuse may increase, a contributing factor is that peacekeepers commit these violations because they believe they can get away with it,” wrote Muna Ndulo in her 2009 paper, “UN Responses to Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Women and Girls by Peacekeepers page 144.

The criminal liability of peacekeeping personnel, therefore, lies at the very core of successfully addressing the problem.

  • [a]s such, it enjoys the status, privileges and immunities of the Organization provided for in Article 105 of the UN Charter, and the UN Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the UN of 13 February 1946. UN staff members are appointed by the Secretary-General and they have the status of officials under the Convention, section 18 of which provides that officials are immune in respect of acts committed by them in their official capacity (pdf page 533).
  • In a similar note, Deen-Racsmany contends that “the SOFA provision on the exclusive criminal jurisdiction of the sending state over military members of national contingents (MMsNCs) constitutes a major obstacle in the way of ensuring the accountability of this category of persons for crimes and serious misconduct committed in peacekeeping operations” (2011, page 350).

in addressing the sexual abuse problem is increased recognition of the importance of women’s role in peace processes, along with the importance of incorporating female perspectives in the general U.N. peace and security framework. An effort to do just that resulted in the 2000 U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. (pdf Resolution 1325).

However, when it comes to practice, analysts are ambivalent as to how successfully the resolution has been translated into the implementation of U.N. peacekeeping mandates. The report on the ten-year impact study on the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1325 states that while there has been significant progress in supporting women’s participation in political processes, “conflict related sexual violence as a deliberate strategy in areas of conflict still occurs with impunity” says United Nations in their 2010 report (pdf page 10).

In his meeting with UN Security Council last November, S.G. Ban Ki-moon said: “The UN lacks the power for criminal investigation and prosecution, which lets member states take whatever punitive action they choose against the troops they contribute. “In the most frustrating cases,” nothing is done at all.

““A failure to pursue criminal accountability for sexual crimes is tantamount to impunity,” he said, saying countries must quickly investigate and hold its troops accountable.

“Ban also announced several UN measures now being implemented. They include strict timelines for completing investigations, setting up immediate response teams inside peacekeeping missions to handle allegations, and suspending payments to countries whose troops face credible allegations of misconduct.

“Since its creation in April 2014, the peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic says it has received fifty-seven (57) cases of misconduct, including eleven (11) allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse.” [02]

Yet, United Nations peacekeepers in the Central African Republic raped or sexually exploited at least eight women and girls between October and December 2015. Among the survivors are two 14-year-old girls, an 18-year-old and a 29-year-old woman who said peacekeepers gang-raped them:

The 18-year-old woman said that when she visited the Republic of Congo troop base near the airport in late 2015 seeking food or money, armed peacekeepers forced her into the bush and gang-raped her. “I didn’t want to have sex with them, but when I went to visit their base they took me into the bush,” she said. “There were three of them on me. They were armed. They said if I resisted they would kill me. They took me one by one.”

A 14-year-old girl said that in November, two peacekeepers attacked her as she walked by the MINUSCA base at the airport. “The men were dressed in their military uniforms and had their guns,” she said. “I walked by and suddenly one of them grabbed me by my arms and the other one ripped off my clothes. They pulled me into the tall grass and one held my arms while the other one pinned down my legs and raped me. The soldier holding my arms tried to hold my mouth, but I was still able to scream. Because of that they had to run away before the second soldier could rape me.”

Another 14-year-old girl said she was walking by the MINUSCA base at an old cotton factory in late December (2015) when a peacekeeper from the Democratic Republic of Congo attacked her. “I was on a path in the bush and had walked by the MINUSCA guards when a soldier jumped out at me. He was in a uniform like the other soldiers from the [Democratic Republic of the] Congo. He had his gun with him. He slapped me in the face and made me continue to walk on the path
 We walked for a while, then he ripped off my clothes and used them to tie my hands behind my back. He threw me on the ground, placed his gun to the side and got on top of me to rape me. When he was done he just left. I had to put my clothes on and I went home.”

A 29-year-old woman who was raped in October 2015 by peacekeepers stationed in Bambari, Central African Republic. © 2015 Lewis Mudge/Human Rights Watch

A 29-year-old woman who was raped in October 2015 by peacekeepers stationed in Bambari, CAR. (Photo: © 2015 Lewis Mudge/ HRW).

A 29-year-old woman said that a soldier from the Democratic Republic of Congo raped her inside her home in October 2015. “I heard a knock on the door and I said I was busy. But a man said, “No, open the door
. I have come to see you.” I ignored it and thought a few minutes later that he had left. But as I finished washing he just came in. It was a MINUSCA soldier in a blue hat. I said, “What are you doing here?” and I told him to leave. But he forced himself on me and as he was stronger I had no choice.

UN Peacekeepers stationed in refugee camps are extorting sex from children and women in exchange for food or or money, as ongoing conflict has left the population desperate.

A 16-year-old girl said that a peacekeeper from the Republic of Congo who was based at the airport gave her food and money in exchange for sex from October to December (2015). She said that soldiers instigated sexual relationships with her when she and a friend went to the base to sell alcohol: “I met him when he was on guard duty at the airport. We had sex there. After that he would come to my hut.”

The girl said that when the conflict started in Bambari she had no choice but to move near the airport for her safety and that of a family member with a disability. Once there, she said she had no means to provide for herself and her relative and felt she had no option but to exchange sex for food and money.

An 18-year-old woman said that in November (2015) she exchanged sex for food and money with soldiers presumed to be from the Republic of Congo, who were based at the airport. Her friends, who were already trading sex for basic supplies, and a family member encouraged her to approach the contingent because her family had “problems of food and money.” She said that her friends told her, “Instead of staying in your situation you should go with the Congolese so they will give you money to feed your family.”

It has been over a decade since the UN Secretary General holding office had promised to bring the crimes of Peacekeepers to justice – and NOTHING has improved, on the contrary, along with the increase in armed conflict, comes with it an increase in Peacekeeper sexual crimes and abuse. The troop-contributing country of the accused is STILL solely responsible for carrying out judicial proceedings against soldiers who commit sexual exploitation and rape.

It is 2016 and the United Nations is still powerless to enforce that justice is served.

“In a country where armed groups routinely prey on civilians, peacekeepers should be protectors, not predators,” said Hillary Margolis, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“Sending peacekeepers back home is not enough. The UN needs to insist that troops’ home countries bring rapist and other abusers to justice, and that survivors get the support they need.”

Human Rights Watch documented the eight (8) cases of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers, known as MINUSCA, during research in Bambari between January 16 and 30, 2016. [03]

In this chapter of my report I have focused on the region of Africa for purpose of examples of these crimes, however, almost every vulnerable nation is at risk from the abuses of UN Peacekeepers, so many in fact, it would require several chapters to cover the global epidemic of Peacekeeper’s abuse of their power and position over the people’s poverty, or vulnerability of living in refugee camps.

This type of abuse of a Peacekeeper’s position is especially heinous for this very fact – the people they abuse are already suffering terrible physical and mental health trauma before being attacked; and the insidious instigation of children reduced to prostitution to keep their families alive – these crimes against humanity should be treated with zero-tolerance.

I saydouble shame on the United Nations’ Secretary General, and triple shame on its seated leaders of inhumanity. 

🔝

Part One: Humanitarian Crises – Increased Exponentially In 2015.
Part Two: Humanitarian Crises – Crimes Against “At Risk” Children.
Part Four: The following chapters of this report will follow shortly. 


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