Ban Ki-moon and the UN lose it as they try to hide sexual exploitation of children by UN troops

I find Ban Ki-moon embarrassing as the Secretary General of the UN. More often than not, I find his pronouncements generally lacking any indication of personal moral fibre. He parrots the prepared statements of his aides and advisors and his own values are invisible. Certainly the UN, and this Secretary General in particular, have little moral authority left. I find him an even sorrier figure than Kurt Waldheim – and Waldheim with his tacit support of Idi Amin’s applause for the Munich massacre – still leaves a bitter taste. In a sense, what else can we expect? The UN is not an organisation for the dissemination of best practices. Just like in the EU, it is the worst behaviour of a member state which becomes the common standard. The best of the UN, like that of the EU, can only be as good as that of its worst member state. When all UN personnel enjoy immunity from any liability for incompetence, gross negligence and even criminal acts, it is hardly surprising that the “bad apples” get away with it. Not everybody who serves on UN missions is a “bad apple” but there is no shortage of such people. Personnel on UN missions – be they scientists or doctors or peace-keeping troops or administrators – have no incentive from the UN to act responsibly. Nobody will be held accountable for introducing cholera to Haiti just as Dutch troops will not have to face any liability for the massacres in Srebrenica (and a Dutch court refused to act against the Dutch general just a few days ago).

And in the case of the sexual exploitation of children by French soldiers (and soldiers from Chad) in the Central African Republic, there will be many fine speeches from the UN and from the French government, but nobody will be held responsible or brought to account. But in this case where the abuse was known in July 2014 and covered up by the UN, the UN is throwing the book at the whistle-blower. Anders Kompass leaked the internal report on sexual abuses by French troops to French prosecutors. But Ban Ki-moon is talking about the procedural crimes of the Swedish whistle-blower rather than why the UN has kept this hidden for so long. Even the French PM has made a fine speech about pursuing wrong-doers but he has done nothing about this case which the French first knew about 9 months ago.


The Swedish Foreign Ministry’s legal chief Anders Rönquist and Swedish Ambassador Olof Skoog have both defended the whistle-blower Anders Kompass. 
But now the UN Secretary General has come out criticizing the Swede who leaked the report on sexual abuse. “Our preliminary assessment is that the behavior is not the same as whistle-blowing”, says Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson.
Anders Kompass is still employed at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on the OHCHR, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. But he will be absent from his job till 31st July.

Presumably he has been suspended by the UN. His suspension is with the knowledge – if not at the instigation – of the UN  high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein.

The Guardian:

The United Nations is guilty of “reckless disregard for serious allegations of wrongdoing” in its treatment of a whistleblower who disclosed details of alleged child abuse by French peacekeepers in Africa, according to a former staff member.

James Wasserstrom, a veteran US diplomat who was sacked and arrested by UN police when he exposed suspicions of corruption by senior officials in Kosovo, said the case of Anders Kompass revealed how the organisation turned on the whistleblower rather than dealing with the wrongdoing he had revealed.

Kompass, director of field operations at the office of the high commissioner for human rights in Geneva, has been suspended for passing to prosecutors in Paris an unredacted internal UN report detailing allegations of the sexual exploitation of boys in the Central African Republic by French peacekeepers.

When the Guardian revealed details of the allegations this week, the French authorities admitted publicly for the first time that they had begun an investigation after receiving the report last July. It details accounts from children as young as eight and nine of serious sexual abuse at a centre for internally displaced people in the capital Bangui.

At the time, the French troops stationed there were part of their country’s peacekeeping mission run independently of the new UN operation Minusca. The UN had commissioned the report following claims on the grounds of sexual misconduct. It was completed in June last year but not passed on until Kompass leaked it directly to the French.

On Thursday, the French president, François Hollande, vowed to pursue the allegations vigorously. “If some soldiers have behaved badly, I will show no mercy,” he said. French judicial authorities said more than a dozen soldiers were under investigation. ………. In France, the claims against more than a dozen soldiers who were part of the peacekeeping mission in CAR continue to cause shockwaves.

The report contains interviews with six children who disclose sexual abuse predominantly at the hands of French peacekeepers. Some children indicated that several of their friends were also being sexually exploited.

The interviews were carried out by an official from the OHCHR justice section and a member of Unicef between May and June last year. The children, who are aged between eight/nine and 15, disclosed abuse dating back to December 2013.

But of course nobody will be held accountable.

And the behaviour of the UN and Ban Ki-moon is – once again – not very edifying.

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