Sunday, December 20, 2009

The United Nations Supports Rapists in the Democratic Republic of the Congo



William Calathes, J.D., Ph.D., Professor of Criminal Justice, New Jersey City University, Jason Williams, Grad Assistant, New Jersey City University

The rape victims of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) need some people in this world to stand up for some principles and to get the United Nations (UN) to do what it should do.

The people who should be interested in the DRC in New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, and even Paris, London and Vienna are too busy Christmas shopping to intervene to avoid another United Nations (UN) scandal. These folks need to be taken from their holiday sprees, and they need to begin focus on something that can really mean something instead.

On Monday, December 21, the UN Security Council (SC) will be considering the renewal of the Organization Mission to DRC (MONUC) and it needs a push in a principled direction.

The debate that truly needs to take place pits the principles of the UN against the axiom, “politics as usual.” It is more than unfortunate to report that Member States are gravitating toward the lowest common denominator.

Here is the reality:

The UN is providing support (food and logistics) to the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) to fight such foreign armed groups as the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) and the Lord’s Resistance Army, (LRA). But there is a problem, and it is a really big one. FARDC is the DRC government army which is responsible for more human rights violations than any other entity in that nation.

In fact, FARDC has many well-known human rights violators in its command structure.

It must be reported then that the UN is using taxpayer money of various countries to fund the following process: the UN drops off food; forced labor is used; units receiving food have committed, often repeatedly, rapes and killings - that would be before, and after, eating rations paid, in part, by Joe Sixpack.

The level of complicity is so high that the International Criminal Court, (ICC) has begun an investigation of MONUC for complicity in crimes against humanity. This is all quite serious. A prosecution is not that far fetched. Criminal intent can be constructed as the violations are repeated. MONUC drops food. FARDC uses forced labor to distribute. MONUC knows. MONUC drops again and again.

While fighting the FDLR and LRA is very important, the FARDC is too undisciplined and too unprofessional to succeed. You can’t win the hearts and minds of the population working with the armed groups by committing widespread violations.

The UN Member States in earlier drafts of the SC resolution had included conditioning the support of the UN on respect for its own principles (e.g., human rights law). Now the resolution indicates support for the government and makes it seems like all violations are committed by the FDLR!

What happened? Last week, the DRC government indicated that if the UN SC insisted on conditioning its support on respect for its human rights obligations, the DRC would ask MONUC to leave.

Better to leave and have your principles than to end all significant leverage to reduce violations.

So the UN SC needs a bit of backbone. The question is how the concerned people of this world can help it have grow one.

1 comment:

  1. What I have never seen explained is by whom and when the decision to initiate a joint offensive in the Kivus by FARDC, MONUC and the Rwandan army was made.

    I do know that President Joseph Kabila acted unilaterally, bypassing the Congolese government, in forming an alliance with President Paul Kagame's Rwandan army, the RDF.

    When DRC Speaker of the Assembly protested Kabila's actions, his life was treatened, and eventually he stepped down from the post.

    So now Kabila is in bed with Kagame, with the blessing of MONOC, their armies continuing to committ atrocities against the Congolese people. The pretense of this joint offensive is ridding DRC of the FDLR, but in reality the war is a front for grabbing control of mines the FDLR controls.

    And who made the insane decision that MONUC forces would support this farce? At the time, 36 relief agencies came out against the coalition, warning that cost to civilian population would be high, which it has been-- 900,000 displaced to date, rape statistics soaring.

    So where was the UN SC then? Who are they in bed with? Do they now sanction smuggling coltan out through Rwanda, gold through Uganda? implicitly, of course, by not taking a stand against it.

    It is said the Congo is too rich to ever have peace-- it seems like the UN is beginning to agree with that statement.

    Many people fear Kabila is moving toward a dictatorship. Although there were hopes of a government for and by the people when he was "democratically elected", the Congolese people now see him as just another thief who makes promises he has no intention of keeping. . . stuffing his pockets all the while!

    When re-election comes, how convenient to have both FARC and RDC armed and on his side, just waiting to enforce his brand of democracy. . . he recently bought Mobutu's estate in Goma-- what does that tell you!

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