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The UN on Protection of Civilians Dost Protest Too Much, Congo, Sri Lanka and Sudan

[Inner City Press, Wednesday, 11 November 2009 15:00 No Comment]

To protect civilians should go without saying for the United Nations, given its rhetoric. Speech after speech will be given at a debate on the topic in the Security Council on November 11, covered below. But a decade and a half after the UN pulled out during the Rwanda genocide, and stood by during the slaughter in Srebrenica, the UN is still at odds with itself on levels large and small.

In the Congo for example despite a relatively small recent change, the peacekeeping mission under the charge of Alan Doss has provided support to Army units now known to have raped and killed civilians.

Even its own local staff, the UN is not protecting. This week, former MONUC staffer John Dimandja wrote to the Secretary General that his disarmament work for the UN with militias in Ituri put him and his family at risk and needs to leave the region. The UN focused on his desperate reference to stepping in front of the S-G’s limousine, called the police and told Dimandja to stay away. Click here and here for Inner City Press’ two exclusive stories; a third is in the works.

The Congo mission was created and is ostensibly overseen by the Security Council. But when Inner City Press asked a Council diplomat about Dimandja’s plight, the answer was, "We don’t really deal with that."

  And this month’s earnest Security Council president Thomas Mayr-Harting of Austria, which oversees today’s debate, said he had not heard about Doctors without Borders days-old public statement that its vaccination drive in rebel controlled areas of Eastern Congo was used as "bait" by the Army to attack civilians.

The UN Mission in Sudan has said it cannot protect civilians from the Lord’s Resistance Army; Darfur speaks for itself. These are the UN’s largest peacekeeping forces. Then there are conflicts in which the Security Council declines to put on its agenda, such as the slaughter of tens of thousands of Sri Lankans, nearly all Tamils, earlier this year. China and Russia opposed discussing the matter, but the U.S., France, UK and others went along.

Instead of calling for a vote, they contented themselves with non-binding non-meetings in the UN’s basement. The Council has not revisited the situation in Sri Lanka since May, despite hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians being locked up in monsoon flooded camps.

[Full Coverage]

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