For more than a decade, UN peacekeeping forces have faced an avalanche of allegations of sexual exploitation of women and children in areas under their care, only to face no consequences for their crimes. That problem appears to be growing worse as the years roll on, while the member states of the UN wring their hands in public but do little to stop it. Now it appears that the blue helmets have graduated from sex trafficking to murder in the Central African Republic. The Washington Post reports that aid workers have found the bodies of a dozen detainees that had been in the hands of UN troops:
Aid workers have unearthed the remains of 12 people who they say were murdered by international peacekeepers in the Central African Republic in 2014.
The troops, from the Republic of Congo, were part of a peacekeeping mission — first under the auspices of the African Union, then the United Nations — aimed at ending a civil war that left thousands dead beginning in late 2012. Human Rights Watch had previously reported on the role Congolese peacekeepers played in “enforced disappearances,” but the Congolese government “has taken no action toward credible investigations or justice for these crimes,” according to a new report by the group released Tuesday.
Now, new evidence has emerged in what appears to be one of the most egregious cases of peacekeeper abuse in the history of the mission in the Central African Republic. The African Union peacekeeping mission was absorbed by the United Nations not long after the incident occurred.
The new Human Rights Watch report says that a local aid group exhumed the remains of a dozen people in February of this year and that “clothing and other distinctive items identified the victims as members of a group of at least 12 people the Congolese peacekeepers arrested on March 24, 2014.”
The far-left British newspaper The Independent began exposing the depredations of UN peacekeeping forces a dozen years ago. The US, UK, and the regimes of Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon at Turtle Bay have promised reform time and time again. Instead, the same stories keep marching across newspapers around the world, thanks to a system that takes troops from ill-disciplined militaries and removes them from all accountability.
In this case, the troops come from the Republic of Congo, which has demonstrated the same lack of accountability. The crimes of these forces have been well known for years, and their excuses utterly threadbare. Yet they remain, and the Congolese government shows no sign of enforcing discipline, even when it comes to murdering civilians under their control. After the latest exposé regarding sexual abuse, Congo removed 120 troops from the CAR, but did nothing about these murders even while it had been obvious all along that the detainees had not “escaped,” as the UN troops claimed. Human Rights Watch has warned about the actions of the UN troops in the CAR for years, to no avail.
The UN peacekeeping structure is, put simply, a joke. Time after time, the troops have shown they will do nothing to keep the peace, but will bug out when fighting breaks out (Lebanon was a good example of this on more than one occasion.) When no fighting takes place, the troops get out of control and create more misery than they prevent. The UN is powerless to do anything to control them, and their native chains of command aren’t interested in doing so. The blue helmets exist to give the UN Security Council a way to feel good about themselves without actually ensuring discipline and accountability by taking on these tasks themselves under their own auspices.
How many more examples of this do we need before we bring this sorry structure to an end? How many more decades of examples does it take? How many more mass graves, and how many more exploited women and children?