UN: Accountability for thee, but not for we

posted at 1:36 pm on March 30, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

See update below – it wasn’t the UN’s World Court that heard this case.

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It was one of the worst chapters in UN history, at least at the time.  The failure of the UN to reinforce 100 or so Dutch peacekeepers at Srebrenica in 1995 in the fave of an advance by a far more powerful Serbian army led to the retreat of the Dutch away from a city the UN had declared a safe zone for refugees of the Balkans War — and led to the massacre of thousands at the hands of the Serbs.  The survivors of the massacre sued the UN in the World Court (presumably the International Criminal Court), the very venue the UN uses to try war criminals and mete out its perception of justice, over their refusal to defend the city after encouraging refugees to flock to it.  The World Court acknowledged that the UN failed to conduct itself properly, but upheld its claim of immunity:

The Court of Appeal at The Hague ruled Tuesday that a group of women cannot sue the United Nations for failing to prevent the massacre in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in 1995.

The court said it was impossible for the Mothers of Srebrenica to sue because of the immunity granted to the United Nations under international conventions. It said the women have other avenues to try to recover their losses.

The mothers are surviving relatives of the men and boys who died in the massacre. They wanted to sue because they believe the Netherlands and the United Nations failed to prevent the killings, the court said Tuesday. …

“The Court of Appeal appreciates that the mothers and their relatives have suffered atrocities,” the court said. “The Court of Appeal therefore comprehends entirely that they seek redress for their losses in a court of law. It ruled, however, that the interests of the U.N. must prevail in this case.”

This is interesting for a number of reasons, first and foremost as a reminder that the UN doesn’t actually do peacekeeping in war zones but status-quo management — and doesn’t even do that particularly well.  The UN knew that the Serbs wanted to sack Srebrenica; after all, the Serbian Army had conducted a long siege, trapping the Dutch and prompting calls for their relief.  The UN refused until after the massacres despite their own designation of the city as a safe zone, not wanting to confront the Serbs head-on in a battle, and the outnumbered Dutch finally retired from the confrontation without putting up a fight.

Their claim to immunity is also rather interesting, especially for the US.  The International Criminal Court wants jurisdiction over national peacekeeping forces and their actions in the field.  The US has thus far refused to join the ICC for that reason, claiming that (a) the US has sufficient oversight over its military to conduct its own investigations into wrongdoing, and (b) the ICC will get used for political purposes instead of legitimate criminal investigations.  If the UN is claiming that it has immunity for military issues at the World Court, then how can it claim jurisdiction over any other nation’s military personnel?

As it happens, this ruling makes sense, since the actions of the UN should be handled through political accountability rather than a lawsuit.  However, as we have seen with the remarkable number of cases involving UN peacekeeping missions with sexual exploitation of refugees, as well as with the Oil-for-Food scam that put billions of dollars into the pockets of Saddam Hussein and Western diplomats, the UN has no effective accountability.  It’s one of the reasons why we should be extremely wary of giving the UN any jurisdiction at all, let alone in a criminal-court venue.  The appeal decision means the UN escapes any kind of accountability for its cowardly actions that led to the fall of Srebrenica and the massacre of civilians that trusted UN promises of protection.  For the mothers of Srebrenica, it’s the final betrayal.

Update: I misunderstood one critical part of this story.  The Hague’s appeals took place in the Dutch court system; I assumed that The Hague was a reference to the World Court, which comprises both the ICC and the ICJ.  Obviously, the Dutch decision to hold the UN immune from action is part of their own legal framework and not that of the ICC or ICJ.  While the points about accountability still stand, the court decision here is significant within the Dutch system.  My apologies for the misunderstanding.

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Among reforms the country needs to do, a 90% reduction in US contributions while maintaining our seat on the Security council is a must.

rob verdi on March 30, 2010 at 1:40 PM

Useless Numbnuts.

profitsbeard on March 30, 2010 at 1:45 PM

Among reforms the country needs to do, a 90% reduction in US contributions while maintaining our seat on the Security council is a must.

rob verdi on March 30, 2010 at 1:40 PM

As well as removal of the UN from American soil.

Rebar on March 30, 2010 at 1:45 PM

Arrange for all democratic nations to leave the UN, let the place be a circus for the thugs and fools which mostly populate it now. Nothing would ever get done, all of them would scream, bluster, walk out, and eventually bomb each other.

The free nations could make their own league, with the threat that if any are attacked, all will respond.

Bishop on March 30, 2010 at 1:47 PM

Øbama joins the ICC in 5, 4, 3, 2….

Kafir on March 30, 2010 at 1:47 PM

Get rid of the UN.
We do not need it.
They are evil parasites.
No net good comes from anything attached to the UN.

Badger40 on March 30, 2010 at 1:47 PM

The UN killed civilians in Katanga/Congo in 1961, strafing a hospital etc., to support the communist thug Patrice Lamumba and suppress the western-oriented Moishe Tshombe’s independence movement.

Akzed on March 30, 2010 at 1:49 PM

Øbama joins the ICC in 5, 4, 3, 2….

Kafir on March 30, 2010 at 1:47 PM

beat me to it, as soon as I read

The US has thus far refused to join the ICC for that reason

I thought, no worries, dear leader will be joining soon..keeping up with his treatment of friends vs enemies

cmsinaz on March 30, 2010 at 1:52 PM

Badger40 on March 30, 2010 at 1:47 PM

\

agree

cmsinaz on March 30, 2010 at 1:52 PM

While the UN sat on its hands,Serbia had concentration camps,rape camps,and unspeakable horrific acts on the
population!!

canopfor on March 30, 2010 at 1:53 PM

UN: Accountability for thee, but not for we

perfect headline Ed!

cmsinaz on March 30, 2010 at 1:54 PM

The free nations could make their own league, with the threat that if any are attacked, all will respond.

Bishop on March 30, 2010 at 1:47 PM

Bishop: Amen on that!!

Heres a linky,in case you don’t have!!
====================================================
MilitaryVideos

A big collection of military videos

http://militaryvids.wordpress.com/

canopfor on March 30, 2010 at 1:56 PM

UN troops rape and enslave the local women during their peacekeeping missions in the world’s sh!tholes. Why? Because they can.

Akzed on March 30, 2010 at 1:58 PM

They did a bang up job making sure that Hezbollah wasn’t massing weapons to attack Israel too.
Barney Fife is more intimidating than the U.N.

NeoKong on March 30, 2010 at 2:03 PM

It all makes sense now
http://cnsnews.com/news/article/62698

Clinton State Department Working With ‘Advocacy Groups’ to Prepare ‘Human Rights’ Report on U.S. to Give to U.N.

macncheez on March 30, 2010 at 2:03 PM

Haditha, Srebrenica, Jenin and the Armenian genocide of the Turks, none of these Muslim grievances have been addressed.

BL@KBIRD on March 30, 2010 at 2:10 PM

The appeal decision means the UN escapes any kind of accountability for its cowardly actions that led to the fall of Srebrenica and the massacre of civilians that trusted UN promises of protection.

This is the same court that couldn’t convict Serb dictator Slobodan Milosevic for his crimes before he died of natural causes. They can’t defend the defenseless, but the guilty are defended to the end.

The United Nations is a joke as a peacekeeping “force”–they don’t have enough weapons to repel any aggressor larger than Leichtenstein, and their Rules of Engagement turn their soldiers into cannon fodder.

No wonder nobody wants to be a Blue Helmet–sitting Dutch become sitting ducks.

To truly keep the peace, you’ve gotta speak softly and carry the biggest stick on the block.

Steve Z on March 30, 2010 at 2:23 PM

But on a more positive note….the UN is doing GREAT work in the field of Global Warming!!!! /sarc

search4truth on March 30, 2010 at 2:28 PM

The UN is a cruel joke.

rbj on March 30, 2010 at 2:34 PM

The UN belongs on the ash heap of history, and should not be supported by American funding AT ALL. Expel the lot of them!

CantCureStupid on March 30, 2010 at 2:46 PM

Second sentence:

The failure of the UN to reinforce 100 or so Dutch peacekeepers at Srebrenica in 1995 in the fave of an advance …

Fave should be face.

AnotherOpinion on March 30, 2010 at 3:12 PM

The UN is the biggest ripoff in the history of the world. Global warming is a very poor second when it comes to sucking the wealth of nations and accomplishing less than nothing.

So I guess those UN soldiers raping children in Africa are likewise immune.

disa on March 30, 2010 at 3:15 PM

Among reforms the country needs to do, a 90% reduction in US contributions while maintaining our seat on the Security council is a must.

rob verdi on March 30, 2010 at 1:40 PM

I never thought I’d be quoting Frank Burns from M.A.S.H. but “Get us out of the UN!”

disa on March 30, 2010 at 3:16 PM

Second sentence:

The failure of the UN to reinforce 100 or so Dutch peacekeepers at Srebrenica in 1995 in the fave of an advance …

Fave should be face.

AnotherOpinion on March 30, 2010 at 3:12 PM

Not necessarily, I see it as one of those typos that makes the sentence more accurate.

agmartin on March 30, 2010 at 4:31 PM

The free nations could make their own league, with the threat that if any are attacked, all will respond.

Bishop on March 30, 2010 at 1:47 PM

Any clue on which side Obama would place us? Three guesses and none have the word “Free” in them.

Franklyn on March 30, 2010 at 5:17 PM

The United Nations is nothing more than a bunch of privileged political con men that use their position to take advantage of people from prostitutes in New York to refugees in a war zone. They have no spine and they have no honor. You could make an agreement with a jackal and have a better chance that it would be honored. Anybody that depends on the United Nations for anything is either stupid or a slave to leftist ideology.

Hawthorne on March 31, 2010 at 12:53 AM

It all makes sense now
http://cnsnews.com/news/article/62698

Clinton State Department Working With ‘Advocacy Groups’ to Prepare ‘Human Rights’ Report on U.S. to Give to U.N.

macncheez on March 30, 2010 at 2:03 PM

This really great! Iran’s own assessment will be flawless and ideal standard of human rights and US will be the horrific example of human abuse.

Ed Laskie on March 31, 2010 at 9:36 AM