Peacekeeping

Hi I’m from the UN, we are here to…uhmm…root you

The ten most dreaded words in the world are “Hi, I’m from the UN and we’re here to help”.

When the UN deployed to Haiti to “assist” I don’t think the locals were expecting to have to line up to service the UN workers in order to get aid.

Members of a UN peacekeeping mission engaged in “transactional sex” with more than 225 Haitian women who said they needed to do so to obtain things like food and medication.

The draft by the Office of Internal Oversight Services looks at the way UN peacekeeping, which has about 125,000 people in some of the world’s most troubled areas, deals with the persistent problem of sexual abuse and exploitation.

The report, expected to be released this month, says major challenges remain a decade after a groundbreaking UN report first tackled the issue.

Among its findings: About a third of alleged sexual abuse involves minors under 18. Assistance to victims is “severely deficient.” The average investigation by the OIOS, which says it prioritises cases involving minors or rape, takes more than a year.   Read more »

The future for Afghanistan?

With Afghanistan in mind, I’ve been reading an article suggesting that the west needs to win more wars with private armies. The argument is that this would allow Government’s to ‘fudge’ their involvement, and politicians wouldn’t have to explain casualties to the public.

Some of it even makes sense.

Here are a few extracts:

Why has the international community continued to persist with negotiated settlements and even-handedness in cases where one side was clearly at fault? The reason, for the most part, is self interest. Such an approach avoids direct intervention and the subsequent political risks.

GIVE WAR A CHANCE

Outright victories, rather than negotiated peace settlements, have ended the greater part of the twentieth century’s internal conflicts.

The private military sector can allow policymakers to achieve their foreign-policy goals free from the need to secure public approval and safe in the knowledge that should the situation deteriorate, official participation can be fudged.”

As the political and economic costs of peacekeeping continue to escalate, it may increasingly make sense for multilateral organizations and Western governments to consider outsourcing some aspects of these interventions to the private sector.

Western countries are more reluctant to intervene militarily in weak states, and their politicians are disinclined to explain casualties to their electorates. Furthermore, Western armies, designed primarily to fight the sophisticated international conflicts envisaged by Cold War strategists, are ill equipped to tackle low-intensity civil wars, with their complicated ethnic agendas, blurred boundaries between combatants and civilians, and loose military hierarchies.

UN peacekeeping efforts have fallen victim to Western governments’ fears of sustaining casualties, becoming entangled in expanding conflicts, and incurring escalating costs.

Oh, I forgot to mention, the author is Labour Leader David Shearer