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A Step Toward Peace in Cote d’Ivoire

In the world of UN peacekeeping, a successful mission is one that gradually moves toward its own dissolution. In that light, there is good news coming out of Cote d’Ivoire. From the UN News Centre:

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Cote d’Ivoire has now dismantled almost all of its military observation posts in the former zone of confidence separating the Government-held and rebel-controlled areas of the country as part of last year’s accord ending active hostilities between the two sides.

Only two of the original 17 observation posts built inside the zone in the West African country remain operational, according to Colonel Mustapha Dafir, the military spokesperson for the mission, which is known as UNOCI.

This follows the UN’s handover of disarmament responsibilities to the Ivorian national government and represents another step toward securing the full peace and reconciliation that UNOCI is tasked with helping the country achieve. In meeting the benchmarks set out in a 2007 peace accord, UNOCI provides a good example of the path that UN peacekeeping missions aim to follow — a path that includes forming a transitional government and holding elections later this year and that will lead to the drawing down, and eventual departure, of the peacekeeping force.

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A Step Toward Peace in Cote d’Ivoire

In the world of UN peacekeeping, a successful mission is one that gradually moves toward its own dissolution. In that light, there is good news coming out of Cote d’Ivoire. From the UN News Centre:

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Cote d’Ivoire has now dismantled almost all of its military observation posts in the former zone of confidence separating the Government-held and rebel-controlled areas of the country as part of last year’s accord ending active hostilities between the two sides.

Only two of the original 17 observation posts built inside the zone in the West African country remain operational, according to Colonel Mustapha Dafir, the military spokesperson for the mission, which is known as UNOCI.

This follows the UN’s handover of disarmament responsibilities to the Ivorian national government and represents another step toward securing the full peace and reconciliation that UNOCI is tasked with helping the country achieve. In meeting the benchmarks set out in a 2007 peace accord, UNOCI provides a good example of the path that UN peacekeeping missions aim to follow — a path that includes forming a transitional government and holding elections later this year and that will lead to the drawing down, and eventual departure, of the peacekeeping force.

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Unsubstantiated Allegations Against the UN Development Program

Recently, the UN Development Program (UNDP), which provides developing countries with assistance combating poverty, improving democratic governance, and achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals, has faced accusations of corruption and mismanagement from certain quarters. Responding to an April 1 editorial in The Wall Street Journal that claimed the existence of “fraud and corruption in U.N. Development Program operations in North Korea,” UNDP Director of Communications David Morrison today provided a strong rebuttal to these groundless assertions.

When the concerns about UNDP’s program in North Korea were first raised, the secretary-general directed the U.N. Board of Auditors to conduct an audit of the program. Contrary to [WSJ's] assertion, the audit did not find “fraud and corruption.” Instead, the audit reported that UNDP, similar to other U.N. and foreign organizations, had to alter some of its programmatic and administrative practices to operate in North Korea — a fact of which UNDP board members, including the U.S., were well aware.

Morrison also cites a Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report that also found no “fraud and corruption” in UNDP’s operations in North Korea. He goes on to quote Mark Wallace, the erstwhile UN Ambassador for Management reform whom the Journal’s editorial was extolling, as admitting that “we do not believe nor have we seen any corruption.”

When UN and U.S. auditing boards both find no instances of corruption, and the individual (Wallace) who has promulgated these charges also admits not having found corruption, one would think the matter settled. In the interest of full investigation, though, one more independent panel, chaired by former Hungarian Prime Minister Miklos Nemeth, will submit its findings in the North Korea matter within the next few months, and Morrison patiently advises skeptics to await its report.

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Unsubstantiated Allegations Against the UN Development Program

Recently, the UN Development Program (UNDP), which provides developing countries with assistance combating poverty, improving democratic governance, and achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals, has faced accusations of corruption and mismanagement from certain quarters. Responding to an April 1 editorial in The Wall Street Journal that claimed the existence of “fraud and corruption in U.N. Development Program operations in North Korea,” UNDP Director of Communications David Morrison today provided a strong rebuttal to these groundless assertions.

When the concerns about UNDP’s program in North Korea were first raised, the secretary-general directed the U.N. Board of Auditors to conduct an audit of the program. Contrary to [WSJ's] assertion, the audit did not find “fraud and corruption.” Instead, the audit reported that UNDP, similar to other U.N. and foreign organizations, had to alter some of its programmatic and administrative practices to operate in North Korea — a fact of which UNDP board members, including the U.S., were well aware.

Morrison also cites a Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report that also found no “fraud and corruption” in UNDP’s operations in North Korea. He goes on to quote Mark Wallace, the erstwhile UN Ambassador for Management reform whom the Journal’s editorial was extolling, as admitting that “we do not believe nor have we seen any corruption.”

When UN and U.S. auditing boards both find no instances of corruption, and the individual (Wallace) who has promulgated these charges also admits not having found corruption, one would think the matter settled. In the interest of full investigation, though, one more independent panel, chaired by former Hungarian Prime Minister Miklos Nemeth, will submit its findings in the North Korea matter within the next few months, and Morrison patiently advises skeptics to await its report.

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Sexual Violence Continues in Darfur

03-24-water-darfur.jpg

Human Rights Watch today released a report detailing the continued prevalence of rape and sexual violence in Darfur and decrying the impunity in which perpetrators continue to operate.

The 44-page report, “Five Years On, No Justice for Sexual Violence in Darfur,” documents the widespread prevalence of sexual violence throughout Darfur, and details incidents of violent rape perpetrated on girls as young as 11 years old. The government of Sudan has failed to rein in the abuse, much of which is carried out by their own soldiers and allied militia. In spite of the presence of international peacekeepers in Darfur, they have to date been under-resourced and unable to protect women and girls from rape and other forms of violence.

Marking the four-year anniversary of the Security Council’s first action on Darfur, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recognized the particular plight of women and girls in Darfur, deploring the “violence targeting civilians, including women and girls, that continues at alarming levels with no accountability, or end, in sight.” In his monthly report on the status of UNAMID deployment, Ban called on all parties to “immediately focus” on both civilian protection and the peace process.

While Ban is correct that — as we have emphasized before — peacekeeping must be accompanied by “a peace to keep,” there are certain priorities that require a peacekeeping force as soon as possible. The protection of women and girls in IDP camps is one such priority — and one in which peacekeepers have a demonstrable record of success. The international community therefore needs to speed the deployment of UN military and police personnel — particularly high-ranking and experienced female police officers — who can help staunch this intolerable persistence of rape and sexual violence in Darfur.

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Sexual Violence Continues in Darfur

03-24-water-darfur.jpg

Human Rights Watch today released a report detailing the continued prevalence of rape and sexual violence in Darfur and decrying the impunity in which perpetrators continue to operate.

The 44-page report, “Five Years On, No Justice for Sexual Violence in Darfur,” documents the widespread prevalence of sexual violence throughout Darfur, and details incidents of violent rape perpetrated on girls as young as 11 years old. The government of Sudan has failed to rein in the abuse, much of which is carried out by their own soldiers and allied militia. In spite of the presence of international peacekeepers in Darfur, they have to date been under-resourced and unable to protect women and girls from rape and other forms of violence.

Marking the four-year anniversary of the Security Council’s first action on Darfur, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recognized the particular plight of women and girls in Darfur, deploring the “violence targeting civilians, including women and girls, that continues at alarming levels with no accountability, or end, in sight.” In his monthly report on the status of UNAMID deployment, Ban called on all parties to “immediately focus” on both civilian protection and the peace process.

While Ban is correct that — as we have emphasized before — peacekeeping must be accompanied by “a peace to keep,” there are certain priorities that require a peacekeeping force as soon as possible. The protection of women and girls in IDP camps is one such priority — and one in which peacekeepers have a demonstrable record of success. The international community therefore needs to speed the deployment of UN military and police personnel — particularly high-ranking and experienced female police officers — who can help staunch this intolerable persistence of rape and sexual violence in Darfur.

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