Saturday, March 18, 2017

What is to be done (about peacekeeper discipline)?

Francesco Presutti of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU Law School is to be congratulated on this thoughtful report on the UN's latest plan to combat indiscipline among peacekeepers. Excerpt:
Certainly, in the end Member States always overcome their divisions and unite in condemnation of sexual exploitation and abuse. In 2015 and 2016, the Fifth Committee (the main committee of the General Assembly entrusted with the administrative and budgetary questions of the UN), and the Security Council successfully agreed to important resolutions, which dealt with some key aspects of sexual abuse and exploitation. Then, on March 10, just one day after the release of the secretary-general’s report, the General Assembly hastily adopted a rather anodyne resolution, its first plenary resolution on this subject. The policy of “zero tolerance” that all these resolutions advocate, however, is bound to remain empty rhetoric if more effective measures are not undertaken. Therefore, it is right for the secretary-general to mobilize Member States at the highest level, and his request to the Legal Counsel of the UN to explore ways to press Member States to exercise criminal jurisdiction for both uniformed and civilian personnel is a welcome step in the right direction. Ensuring criminal accountability is an integral part of the international community’s proclaimed zero-tolerance policy. The military personnel of Member States’ peacekeeping forces, in particular, who are immune from the jurisdiction of the host country and subject to the contributing States’ exclusive jurisdiction by virtue of the applicable Memoranda of Understanding, must not operate in an area of impunity. In spite of countless reports, studies and proposals to close this gap, such as the longstanding option of an international convention in connection with crimes committed in peacekeeping operations, a proper legal framework has not yet been created to address this issue effectively, and even in this latest report the matter is not sufficiently developed.

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