The Latest Scandal At The United Nations
I Know, I Know . . . It's Hard To Keep Count
By Pejman Yousefzadeh Posted in Featured Stories | Foreign Affairs — Comments (16) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
As if things in the Democratic Republic of Congo were not bad enough absent any other external factors that would tend to make life worse, we now have this:
The UN says it will seek to discipline anyone who has compromised peacekeeping in the Democratic Republic of Congo by trafficking in gold or guns.
The vow came after the BBC found that an inquiry into claims that Pakistani UN troops were smuggling may have been blocked for political reasons.
The UN said it could not comment on an ongoing investigation, but would recommend action once it was complete.
So what is the nature of the allegations and the investigation?
Read on . . .
The BBC's Martin Plaut has found that the UN began an internal investigation in early 2006 into allegations that Pakistani peacekeeping troops had traded in gold and sold weapons to Congolese militia groups they were meant to disarm.
The Pakistani battalion at the centre of the claims was based in and around the mining town of Mongbwalu, in the north-east of the country, two years ago.
They helped bring peace to an area that had previously seen bitter fighting between the Lendu and Hema ethnic groups.
But witnesses said Pakistani officers had also supplied weapons to notorious militia commanders in return for gold.
As the trade developed, the officers brought in the Congolese army and then Indian traders from Kenya.
When the UN was eventually alerted to the allegations by Human Rights Watch in late 2005, it instituted a major investigation by the Office for Internal Oversight Services.
Get ready for the kicker:
However, a UN official connected with the inquiry told the BBC there seemed to have been a plan to bury its results, in order to avoid alienating Pakistan - the largest contributor of troops to the UN.
So, to recap:
- Pakistani peacekeepers undermined the very disarmament procedures they were responsible for overseeing in return for gold.
- The UN was made aware of the problem in 2005.
- An investigation began in 2006.
- The investigation is not yet complete, which conveniently means that the UN cannot comment on it.
- The UN may simply sweep the results of the investigation under the rug because it fears that the Pakistanis--who lead in terms of peacekeeper contributions by a country mile (a BBC news report that I heard earlier today indicated that the Pakistanis have contributed 10,000 troops to peacekeeping operations, compared to 300 troops contributed by the United States and Great Britain together)--might get offended.
I feel great about this state of affairs. How about you?