The CAR scandal: Cover-up of incompetence continues at the UN

Flavia Pansieri, the UN Deputy High Commissioner for human rights, resigned today after admitting in March that she had failed to follow up on the allegations of sexual exploitation of children in the Central African Republic by French troops and which had been revealed by the Swedish whistle- blower, a UN staff member, Anders Kompass. Initially the UN sought to cover-up by suspending Kompass and putting him under investigation. Even Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary general attacked Kompass for breaking UN rules rather than address the failings of the organisation. Kompass has now been reinstated but still remains under investigation for his administrative misdeeds. He had informed Pansieri about his misgivings but apparently she was too busy with budget cuts at the time and failed to take any action. Now she has resigned “for health reasons”, but the UN High Commissioner himself, Zeid Raad al-Hussein remains. According to Pansieri he also was informed and failed to take action.

Being UN officials, they all have immunity from any liability – even for incompetence and gross negligence. No further action will probably be taken, though Anders Kompass should probably give up any aspirations to promotion within the UN organisation. (I note again that no UN official will ever be held accountable for the negligence which led to cholera being introduced to Haiti by UN troops).

ABC (AP):

The U.N. confirmed Wednesday that Flavia Pansieri has left the post of deputy high commissioner for human rights “for health reasons.” No more details were given.

The allegations by several children as young as 9 of trading oral sex and sodomy for food with French soldiers tasked with protecting civilians in the violence-torn country didn’t become public until late April, almost a year after U.N. staffers first heard the children’s stories. Pansieri’s comments and other leaked documents led the U.N. secretary-general this summer to order an investigation into how the U.N. handled the case.

In a confidential statement for a separate internal investigation, obtained by The Associated Press, Pansieri said she had been distracted from the case by other issues, including budget cuts for several months. “I regret to say that in the context of those very hectic days, I failed to follow up on the CAR situation,” Pansieri said in the statement dated March 26.

She said she and her boss, high commissioner Zeid Raad al-Hussein, had assumed French authorities were handling the allegations, even as France pressed the U.N. for months for more information.

No arrests have been announced, and it appears that the only person who has been punished is the U.N. rights staffer who first notified French authorities.

The French soldiers, who were not U.N. peacekeepers, had been tasked with protecting civilians in a chaotic camp for displaced people in Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui, during vicious violence between Christians and Muslims.

Of course the UN is only as good as its member nations. I sometimes think that the UN, just like the EU, is not a forum for the dissemination of best practices as it should be, but functions instead to level down to the worst standards of a member nation.

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