This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Ban Ki-moon : "A Cancer on our System"

"Suddenly, one of them [United Nations peacekeepers] 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."
14-year-old girl, Bangui, Central African Republic [Human Rights Watch report]

"In the absence of concrete action to address wrongdoing by the very persons sent to protect vulnerable populations, the credibility of the U.N. and peacekeeping operations are in jeopardy."
"The welfare of the victims and the accountability of the perpetrators appeared to be an afterthought, if considered at all."
"Overall the response of the U.N. was fragmented and bureaucratic, and failed to satisfy the U.N.’s core mandate to address human rights violations."
Independent panel report on United Nations  
United Nations peacekeepers north of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. The UN has instituted reforms over the past decade to tackle sexual abuse by peacekeepers, but the crimes continue.
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

The independent panel, comprised of three members led by former Canadian Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps was appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, after yet another revelation that yet again UN peacekeepers were involved in sex attacks against children. In the 2014 case taking place in Central African Republic, children aged 9 to 15 were sometimes promised food if they would agree to sex.  They were, irregardless, sexually violated by French soldiers.

The travesty was revealed when a senior official in the UN human rights office in Geneva, Anders Kompass, alerted French officials to the abuse allegations. For having done that, he was suspended from his position by the high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Husein, on the basis of Mr. Kompass having violated UN protocols. Mr. Hussein's actions in reacting to the news of UN peacekeepers once again being involved in sexual abuse by suspending Mr. Kompass came under criticism by the independent panel which had nothing positive to say about "a single-minded determination to pursue an investigation" of Mr. Kompass, not the child rapes.

These were, after all, peacekeepers demanding sex from children in exchange for food rations, buying sex from vulnerable, poverty stricken children for 50 cents, violently assaulting children and women in yet another horrifying incident involving United Nations peacekeepers. The panel placed blame on a number of other officials who took no action. In particular it pointed to Carman Laponte, responsible for internal oversight of the UN bureaucracy who, they pointed out had failed the impartiality test in her investigation of Mr. Kompass's actions.

And nor did the special representative for children and armed conflict, Leila Zerrougui came out of the affair looking professional and involved in keeping with her professional profile. The panel pointed out that she "took no steps to inform herself", relating to the child victims' welfare up until that time that media coverage became widespread about the scandal. And then it was the turn of the UN's children's agency, UNICEF, which responded by referring the victims to a local group prepared to see the children for a few hours.

UNICEF responded in a statement that it was reviewing the conclusions reached by the panel, and that "we, of course, deeply regret those failures, including in not adequately following up on the children's well-being", and if that sounds sincere, then the panel members can eat their report in gratitude that it has borne fruit, however unpalatable and untrustworthy given past UN performances in reviewing many earlier claims of repulsive child exploitation and violence inflicted upon vulnerable children and women.

Many countries that commit to contributing troops to United Nations peacekeeping missions view their commitments as another source of business opportunities in the sense that their incentive to do so arises from the agreement becoming a source of income, beefing up national revenue. And in many of those countries the issue of of child predation and sexual violence against women is never addressed in their own societies where it is common and no protections extended to the victims.
As a result those Troop Contributing Countries are disinterested in addressing serious human rights violations.

Just another issue highlighting the disturbing incompetence and lack of accountability of various branches of the United Nations, an institution that the international community initially viewed as one they could trust and hold to the supreme inviolable values of human rights, but which has increasingly shown itself to represent the contemptible political interests of human rights abusing nations who uphold human rights in theory but never in their own bailiwicks.

A United Nations report said the organization did not act effectively to end sexual abuse of Central African Republic children by peacekeeping forces. Pictured, French and British troops unload military equipment Bangui Airport in the Central African Republic. File photo by Cpl. Neil Bryden/RAF

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