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US aims to punish UN peacekeepers responsible for abuses

September 13, 2018

A US draft Security Council resolution received a cool response from Russia, China and troop-contributing countries. Bangladesh, a top blue helmet contributor, warned that budget cuts would hit peacekeeping missions.

UN Mission UNMIL
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/N. Bothma

The United States is pushing the Security Council to toughen UN action against peacekeepers who abuse or fail to protect civilians, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said Wednesday.

UN peacekeeping missions have faced criticism over sexual abuse and failing to aid civilians faced with deadly violence, particularly in the Central African Republic and South Sudan.

"Even worse than failures to protect are instances in which civilians have been attacked, abused, and exploited by the peacekeepers who are supposed to protect them," Haley said during a Council debate on peacekeeping.

The United States would present a draft Security Council resolution aimed at "improving peacekeeper performance" and holding peacekeeping failures and abuses to account, Haley said.

According to the draft text, peacekeepers could be sent home, replaced or not paid if they are involved in misconduct. Among other measures, the draft resolution mandates reporting of "performance failures," fosters "accountability measures for failures of performance and concrete incentives for stronger performance," and advocates "the role of data in improving troop performance," she said.

The UN deploys 96,000 peacekeepers who serve in 14 missions worldwide. The US has sought to cut the annual peacekeeping budget of $6.9 billion (€5.9 billion), of which it funds 25 percent.

Russia and China were cool on the US draft resolution, saying that the views of countries that contribute peacekeepers should be taken into account.

Read more: Haiti, the UN and the unintended effects of a peace mission

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the council should not be involved in "micro-management" and peacekeeping missions should have "very clear mandates with emphasis on the political settlement."

Instead of a binding resolution, he said Russia would support a political statement on improved performance instead of penalizing troop-contributing countries. 

Bangladesh, which contributes the second most troops to peacekeeping operations, pointed out that performance is "inextricably linked" to peacekeeping missions having sufficient resources and personnel.

It cautioned that "using alleged performance failures as grounds for cost-cutting and force reduction may help score political gains, but hardly responds to the interest of those peacekeeping missions are mandated to serve."

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Pakistan, another top troop contributor, said peacekeeping missions lacked adequate resources and were burdened with too many tasks.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has already taken action to respond to allegations of blue helmet misconduct, including a victims' advocate to help those victims of sexual violence.

UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix said reforms were slowly yielding results, including enhanced peacekeeping measures and new requirements on acting on sexual abuse allegations.

"Much work remains to be done, but we are beginning to see the effects of our collective efforts," he said.

cw/sms (AFP, AP)

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