Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Peacekeeper discipline and information flow

The UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights is taking off the gloves on peacekeeper discipline. According to this morning's New York Times:
Stung by a scandal at the United Nations over its failure to promptly protect child victims of sexual abuse by peacekeepers, the organization’s top human rights official said Tuesday that he had ordered subordinates to inform him immediately when allegations of such abuse first arise. 
The official, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the high commissioner for Human Rights, said his order applied to everyone down to the lowest-ranking field officers in his branch of the United Nations. It obliges them to jump the customary chain of command and communicate directly with him concerning instances of possible sexual abuse, even before all the facts are known. 
“They write straight to me,” Mr. Hussein said at the United Nations headquarters in New York. “Then the business of substantiating it, investigating it further, that can come, and I’m not going to interfere, but the thing is, I need to know right away.” 
Mr. Hussein said he did “not want to be in a situation where I read somewhere in the press, or I hear from another part of the U.N., that a human rights officer has begun to look into an allegation and I don’t know about it.”
It's a good step. But information flow is only part of the problem. What about training, monitoring of specific disciplinary actions and, in the end, sanctions against both offenders (possibly by host states) and troop contributing countries?

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