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UN investigating possible peacekeeper misconduct

Jane Holl Lute, Officer-in-Charge of the Department of Field Support–which works with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO)–says that investigating misconduct allegations against peacekeepers is a high UN priority.

“We are not turning a blind eye to any activity anywhere,” said Lute. “When investigations are conducted and it is demonstrated that the allegations are founded, we will take action.”

The UN has imposed a zero-tolerance policy against sexual abuse and exploitation in response to numerous allegations of peacekeeping misconduct.

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UN Mission Trains Election Workers in Sierra Leone

From the UN News Center:

The United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) and the National Electoral Commission have finished training nearly 50 district officers, ahead of next month’s presidential and parliamentary polls in the once war-torn West African nation.

The three-day training focused on polling and counting procedures for the 11 August elections, which are widely regarded as a watershed in democratic development for a country that is still recovering from an 11-year long civil war.

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Secretary-General asks the Netherlands to Host Hariri Tribunal

From the UN News Center:

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today sent a letter to the Prime Minister of the Netherlands inviting the country’s Government to consider hosting the Special Tribunal on the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

In a statement released by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban voiced hope that the Dutch Government “will give serious consideration to the request.”

The Secretary-General’s letter stressed the fact that the Netherlands already hosts several courts and tribunals, such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

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Chadian IDPs Need Your Help

The rainy season is about the hit Chad, where 200,000 people live in internally displaced persons camps. Rain means mosquitoes. And for people living in squalid camps, that means malaria and possible death.

The situation is dire, but you can help. Nothing But Nets, a grassroots organization that sends insecticide treated bed nets to Africa, has launched an emergency appeal to send 40,000 bed nets to internally displaced persons camps in Chad in six weeks. The nets cost ten dollars each, and are suited to protect a family of four. Consider helping out. As they say: send a net, save a life.

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UN Suspends Moroccan Peacekeeping Battalion in Ivory Coast

From the UN News Center:

Acting on the findings of an internal investigation conducted by the United Nations Mission in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) which revealed serious allegations of widespread sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers there, the world body has suspended the contingent concerned, a spokesperson announced today.

The UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) is currently conducting a full investigation, but the UN has decided to suspend the contingent’s activities and has cantoned the unit within its base, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters.

“The United Nations reiterates its zero tolerance policy towards sexual exploitation and abuse and stresses its determination to work with our troop and police contributing countries to ensure that all UN personnel are held accountable to the highest standards of behaviour,” she said.

These are obviously very serious allegations. You can read more about the UN’s zero tolerance policy on sexual abuse and watch Assistant Secretary General Jane Holl Lute discuss how the UN responds to allegations of sexual abuse among peacekeepers.

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Khalilzad: What the UN could do in Iraq

US Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad pens an op-ed in the New York Times today outlining a potential role for the UN in Iraq:

In Iraq, the United States supports a larger United Nations role because we believe that with the right envoy and mandate it is the best vehicle to address the two fundamental issues driving the crisis in Iraq.

First, the United Nations has unmatched convening power that can help Iraq’s principal communities reach a national compact on the distribution of political and economic power. In the role of mediator, it has inherent legitimacy and the flexibility to talk to all parties, including elements outside the political process.

[snip]

Second, the United Nations is also uniquely suited to work out a regional framework to stabilize Iraq. Several of Iraq’s neighbors — not only Syria and Iran but also some friends of the United States — are pursuing destabilizing policies. The United States supports a new mandate that creates a United Nations-led multilateral diplomatic process to contain the regional competition that is adding fuel to the fire of Iraq’s internal conflict.

Read the whole thing.

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