Friday, April 3, 2015

UN missions and discipline

The New York Times has this important story about the challenges of obtaining accountability. It seems that Rwandan police deployed to Mali as a UN troop contingent used unlawful and excessive force in  an off-base incident that killed three people and wounded four in January. The question is what can be done about it, as UN contingent discipline remains the responsibility of the sending state.
The police officers involved in the episode are due to be sent home, United Nations officials said Thursday. A spokesman for the organization, Farhan Haq, added that it would follow up to ensure that “justice is done.” 
That is easier said than done. United Nations personnel have diplomatic immunity, unless the organization opts to waive it. That means it is up to the peacekeepers’ home country — Rwanda in this case — to prosecute, if it so chooses. 
Rwanda is investigating the allegations, according to its mission to the United Nations. 
The United Nations has limited leverage to compel a country contributing troops to hold its soldiers or police officers accountable. That applies to relatively rare cases like this, just as it does to more common crimes like sexual abuse. 
Without naming the country, the United Nations’ director of peacekeeping operations, Hervé Ladsous, told reporters Thursday afternoon that it was up to the peacekeepers’ home country to conduct a judicial inquiry into the four police officers involved in the gunfire, along with the commander of the unit. If they were to be found “directly responsible,” he said, they would be barred from joining a United Nations mission in the future.

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