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The Exigencies of Peacekeeping

Having brokered a ceasefire in late January between warring parties in eastern DR Congo, the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, known by its acronym, MONUC, now risks becoming overstretched, according to the Secretary-General’s latest report [pdf]. The danger stems from two interrelated developments:

First, having achieved the success of a peace deal, MONUC is responsible to help implement it. In this case, that requires pursuing three objectives: monitoring the ceasefire; supporting the process of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR); and securing the return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). This latter task is particularly daunting, as more displaced persons are crowded into Congo’s eastern provinces than anywhere else in the country.

Second, to achieve these goals, MONUC has needed to relocate significant numbers of its personnel eastward. While this is an understandable and laudable move — particularly because of the persistent insecurity in IDP camps — it runs the risk of pulling much-needed peacekeepers from other volatile areas, which, as Ban notes in his report, “might jeopardize important progress towards peace and stability elsewhere in the country.”It is perhaps the lot of UN peacekeeping that, as soon as one fire seems close to being put out, another ignites, and the UN, in Kofi Annan’s memorable formulation, then needs to go around begging for the parts to build the firetruck. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, just as the need to consolidate peace in eastern Congo looms large on MONUC’s agenda, the western part of the country has experienced a disturbing uptick in violence.

As I’ve previously articulated, a peacekeeping mission’s success, in one sense, can be measured by its readiness to minimize its presence and eventually depart. Sometimes, though, en route to drawdowns, a mission must beef up its presence in the short-term. That appears to be what is happening in DR Congo, where Ban, in the report that preceded this one, had laid out benchmarks for a process of eventual withdrawal. Here, however, he has determined that “the Mission’s current force levels…do not reflect the critical role MONUC is expected to play” in securing peace in the east, while still maintaining stability in the rest of this enormous country.

Yes, MONUC is currently (at least until UNAMID fully deploys in Darfur) the largest and most expensive peacekeeping operation in the UN’s history. But a rapid drawdown in the interests of financial expediency flies in the face of facts on the ground in Congo and would deeply unsettle the only thinly etched lines of peace that are developing in the country. For such a resource-rich behemoth in central Africa, whose post-independence history has been racked by over four decades of war, corruption, and disease, the prospect of a sustainable peace is in all respects worth the investment of continuing to support MONUC.

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Will Kony Sign?

joseph-kony.jpg

Continuing the saga of the seemingly perpetually impending peace deal between the Ugandan government and notorious rebel leader Joseph Kony, it appears that Kony is finally going to emerge from the bush to sign a deal tomorrow. Last week, Kony claimed a variety of reasons — including a lack of toilets — for delaying his appearance at the remote outpost on the Congo-Sudan border for the signing ceremony. Whether he shows tomorrow or not, one very important question remains unanswered: will the peace last? Reuters hits the nail on the head:

The LRA chief’s final intentions remain far from clear.

No outsiders have seen him in months, and even if he breaks cover to sign the final agreement, his fighters have refused to lay down their arms until the ICC warrants are scrapped.

Uganda’s government has said it will ask for the indictments to be lifted only after a final deal is reached. It was not clear whether that meant the rebels had to disarm first too.

Disarmament, of course, is always easier said that done, yet it remains the crux of any responsible peace plan. Justice and accountability are important attendant issues as well, as both we and Opinio Juris have emphasized, but the key — in the immediate term, at least — is a cessation of violence. Kony and the LRA seem committed enough to combating their ICC indictments — even acquiring visas to lobby the UN in New York — to engage in the peace process, but this is a rather tenuous — not to mention somewhat ironic — basis for a robust and long-standing accord.

For now, we’re waiting for Kony.

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Will Kony Sign?

joseph-kony.jpg

Continuing the saga of the seemingly perpetually impending peace deal between the Ugandan government and notorious rebel leader Joseph Kony, it appears that Kony is finally going to emerge from the bush to sign a deal tomorrow. Last week, Kony claimed a variety of reasons — including a lack of toilets — for delaying his appearance at the remote outpost on the Congo-Sudan border for the signing ceremony. Whether he shows tomorrow or not, one very important question remains unanswered: will the peace last? Reuters hits the nail on the head:

The LRA chief’s final intentions remain far from clear.

No outsiders have seen him in months, and even if he breaks cover to sign the final agreement, his fighters have refused to lay down their arms until the ICC warrants are scrapped.

Uganda’s government has said it will ask for the indictments to be lifted only after a final deal is reached. It was not clear whether that meant the rebels had to disarm first too.

Disarmament, of course, is always easier said that done, yet it remains the crux of any responsible peace plan. Justice and accountability are important attendant issues as well, as both we and Opinio Juris have emphasized, but the key — in the immediate term, at least — is a cessation of violence. Kony and the LRA seem committed enough to combating their ICC indictments — even acquiring visas to lobby the UN in New York — to engage in the peace process, but this is a rather tenuous — not to mention somewhat ironic — basis for a robust and long-standing accord.

For now, we’re waiting for Kony.

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Khalilzad to Resign?

This is sort of bizarre. According to the Associated Press US-UN Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, speaking in the Dari language, told Afghanistan’s Ariana Television network that he was planning on resigning. When the AP translated these remarks and out them to Khalilzad’s spokesman, the spokesman said that the Ambassador “has no immediate plans to resign.” Which is it?

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Khalilzad to Resign?

This is sort of bizarre. According to the Associated Press US-UN Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, speaking in the Dari language, told Afghanistan’s Ariana Television network that he was planning on resigning. When the AP translated these remarks and out them to Khalilzad’s spokesman, the spokesman said that the Ambassador “has no immediate plans to resign.” Which is it?

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Wednesday Morning Coffee

Top Stories

>>Iraq – General Petreaus, testifying in front of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees yesterday, announced a pause in U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq that would be, at minimum, 45 days, but could last indefinitely. He also testified that “we haven’t turned any corners. We haven’t seen any lights at the end of the tunnel.” The three U.S. presidential candidates all questioned Petreaus. The lucky winner in November will now, because of the pause, be guaranteed of inheriting a 100,000-strong troop presence in Iraq.

>>Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe’s supreme court ruled yesterday that it would urgently address the opposition’s application for an immediate release of the presidential election results. Also yesterday, South African president Thabo Mbeki said he will meet
with opposition leader Tsvangirai, who met with ANC leader Jacob Zuma on Monday. The situation in Zimbabwe continues to grow more dire as the opposition has reported violent attacks on its supporters, organized gangs continue to drive
white farmers off their land
, and election officials have been arrested for allegedly “undercounting
Mugabe
.”

>>Korea – U.S. Envoy Christopher Hill announced that progress had been made in talks between the U.S. and North Korea regarding the latter’s delayed declaration of its nuclear activities. However, he cautioned that there had net yet been a “breakthrough.” Meanwhile, North Korea announced that their compensation from the U.S. for a satisfactory declaration had been agreed upon.

Yesterday in UN Dispatch
  • href="http://www.undispatch.com/archives/2008/04/danger_in_kenya.php%0a">Danger
    in Kenya
  • href="http://www.undispatch.com/archives/2008/04/the_greatest_si.php%0a">‘The
    Greatest Silence’ Premiering on HBO Tonight!
  • href="http://www.undispatch.com/archives/2008/04/swearing_off_na.php%0a">Swearing
    Off Nation Building
  • href="http://www.undispatch.com/archives/2008/04/the_benefits_of.php%0a">The
    Benefits of Female UN Peacekeepers
  • href="http://www.undispatch.com/archives/2008/04/state_departmen.php%0a">State
    Department Wittingly Letting Terrorists onto US Soil?

The Rest of the Story

Africa

  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/worldNews/~3/266876444/idUSL0936259520080409">Egypt
    – Palestinians say Bush will meet Abbas in Egypt
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/africa/7338069.stm">Senegal
    – Senegal changes law to try Habre
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/business/7338206.stm">South
    Africa
    – SA power prices ‘should double’
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article3708849.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">Niger
    – Former slave, Hadijatou Mani, is suing state
    of Niger over cruelty
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/worldNews/~3/266681863/idUSL0878334720080409">Kenya
    – Kenya opposition halts talks, protests flare
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/09/kenya?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Kenya
    – Street protests in Kenya after unity talks collapse

w:st="on">Americas

  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/tv_and_radio/article3671320.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">Venezuela
    – Bad Bart Simpson is banished for Baywatch in Venezuela
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article3709146.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">U.S.
    – Italian bar helps ‘poor’ Americans
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/09/world/americas/09fbriefs-REBELSREJECT_BRF.html?ex=1365480000&en=cd77eefb2125a12e&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss"> style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>Colombia - Rebels Reject French
    Mission for Hostage
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/09/world/americas/09fbriefs-BEESATTACKPO_BRF.html?ex=1365480000&en=a81482cbff53c0d6&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss"> style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>Mexico - Bees Attack Police
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/worldNews/~3/266672249/idUSN0835816120080409">Haiti
    – Protests over food prices paralyze Haitian capital
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/09/drugstrade.brazil?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Colombia
    – Hordes flock to auction of jailed drugs lord’s possessions

Asia

  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/europe/7338154.stm">Russia
    – ‘Two dead’ in Russian cave siege
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/south_asia/7338034.stm">Pakistan
    – Rebel world cricket series starts
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/south_asia/7337939.stm">Pakistan
    – Leading Pakistan lawyer resigns
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/worldNews/~3/266997624/idUSISL12558720080409">Pakistan
    – Pakistan court acquits Bhutto’s widower in murder case
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/worldNews/~3/266815668/idUSDEL33632420080409">Nepal
    – Eight killed in violence ahead of Nepal polls
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7338258.stm">China
    – China stands firm on Tibet relay
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/10/world/asia/10tibet.html?ex=1365480000&en=1dc158ff44f52d26&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">China
    – Monks Disrupt Media Tour in China
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article3711490.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">China
    – Australian PM Kevin Rudd warns China over human rights abuses in Tibet
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/worldNews/~3/266779323/idUSSEO16259520080409">S.
    Korea
    S.Korea votes for MPs, conservatives
    seek majority

Europe

  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/9c7b3950-0589-11dd-a9e0-0000779fd2ac.html">Spain
    – Spain looks to rebuild after property crash
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/09/world/europe/09fbriefs-ARRESTSINVAN_BRF.html?ex=1365480000&en=d968e7cd9940e6ad&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss"> style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>France - Arrests in Vandalism of
    Muslim Graves in North
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/09/world/europe/09nazi.html?ex=1365480000&en=dfe1dbfee7757829&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Germany
    – Report Details Catholic Role in Nazi Abuses
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/apr/09/conservation.wildlife?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Germany
    – Zoo under fire over Flocke publicity effect
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/middle_east/7337985.stm">Poland
    – Poland seeks to boost Israel ties
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/09/technology/techspecial/09town.html?ex=1365480000&en=b4e5117cc203c2cb&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Ireland
    – On the Irish Coast, Reconsidering Energy From the Town Up
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/worldNews/~3/266674155/idUSL0879374620080409">Lithuania
    – Suicides in Lithuania show social pains persist
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/apr/09/madeleinemccann?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Portugal
    McCanns ponder return to Praia class=SpellE>da Luz
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/relationships/article3708869.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">Czech
    Republic
    – Vaclav Klaus admits having affair with airline attendant no
    3

Middle
East

  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/middle_east/7338055.stm">Israel
    – ‘Three dead’ in Gaza border clash
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/09/world/middleeast/09katsav.html?ex=1365480000&en=5d759f1b4770e346&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Israel
    – Former Israeli President Drops Plea Deal
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/09/terrorism.law?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Jordan
    – Appeal court blocks deportation of terror suspects
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/worldNews/~3/266895905/idUSN0717902120080409">Iraq
    – Bush to press case against cutting Iraq force
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/audio/2008/apr/09/goldenberg.petraeus?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Iraq
    – Suzanne Goldenberg on the questioning of Gen. Petraeus
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/worldNews/~3/266738672/idUSL0434078820080409">Iraq
    – Iraq’s Sadr threatens to scrap ceasefire
  • href="http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/~r/wp-dyn/rss/world/index_xml/~3/266776941/AR2008040802849.html">Iraq
    – The Day’s Other Iraq Policy Event — The One With the Paparazzi
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