Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Congress's fix for UN peacekeeper indiscipline

Stars and Stripes reports here on a congressional hearing in which members suggested that the U.S. ought to invoke the Leahy Amendment and withhold foreign aid from troop contributing countries whose personnel commit sex offenses in the course of UN peacekeeping operations. Excerpt:
"What is wrong with the Secretary-General of the U.N.?" [Sen. Bob] Corker asked. "I mean is he just so inept that he can't (keep) this from happening over and over and over again? How do we put up with such inept leadership at the United Nations?" 
Inaction by the U.N. coupled with spiraling budget deficits at home are a recipe for eroding U.S. support to peacekeeping operations, he said. 
Isobel Coleman, the U.S. representative at the U.N. for management and reform, said it's not ineptitude but a reluctance by countries contributing troops to peacekeeping missions "to deal with this issue in the transparent way that it must be dealt with." 
Corker and other committee members pressed State Department officials on whether they have used a U.S. human rights law known as the Leahy amendment to refuse foreign aid to countries whose peacekeepers sexually abused the people they were sent to protect. 
Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael Rothstein of the department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs said he could not cite an instance of money being withheld. But he told the committee that the U.S. has only recently gotten the visibility into the crimes and the perpetrators that would allow them to block aid.

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