UN council support tough action for peacekeeping failures

UN peacekeeping missions are facing a damaging wave of allegations of sex abuse and of failing to come to the aid of civilians caught up in violence, notably in the Central African Republic and South Sudan. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2018
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UN council support tough action for peacekeeping failures

  • The UN, which deploys 96,000 peacekeepers in 14 far-flung missions from the Mideast to Africa to Haiti, has come under sharp criticism in recent years
  • Some countries that contribute troops to UN missions privately expressed unhappiness at the initial US draft resolution

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Friday to support tougher UN action against peacekeepers who fail to protect civilians, including by sending them home and refusing to pay their governments.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley said after the adoption of the US-sponsored resolution that the council had responded to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ challenge “to step up and strengthen peacekeeping.”
“The actions we take today will make the United Nations a better, more effective instrument of peace and security,” she said. “This resolution mandates a timely and transparent reporting process for performance failures. It creates real accountability measures for when these failures occur.”
The United Nations, which deploys 96,000 peacekeepers in 14 far-flung missions from the Mideast to Africa to Haiti, has come under sharp criticism in recent years for sexual abuse by its troops and failures to protect civilians.
The United States is the largest contributor to peacekeeping, but deploys only 50 officers to UN missions.
Haley has been trying to cut the peacekeeping budget, which this year is $7.3 billion, and she announced in March that the Trump administration was reducing its 28.5 percent assessment to 25 percent.
Some countries that contribute troops to UN missions privately expressed unhappiness at the initial US draft resolution. Russia and China said earlier this month that the views of troop contributors needed to be taken into account, and Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Friday he almost voted against the measure.
Haley said the US rejected “business as usual” for the resolution and did engage major troop contributing countries.
The resolution honors “the heroic work of tens of thousands of United Nations uniformed and civilian peacekeeping personnel” and underscores that the UN “should not let the performance failures of a few tarnish the achievements of the whole.”
But it also expresses “deep concern about the serious and continuous allegations and underreporting of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeepers.” It further takes aim at “continued instances of underperformance,” including inaction by UN soldiers against imminent threats to civilians they are mandated to protect.
The council reaffirmed support for the development of a comprehensive policy with clear standards on peacekeeping performance and “well-defined benchmarks to ensure accountability for underperformance and incentives and recognition for outstanding performance.”
It said “a range of responses proportionate to the identified performance failures” are needed. These should include “transparent public reporting,” repatriating or replacing military units, and withholding financial payments to governments of uniformed personnel, the council said. For civilian members of UN missions, the measures for performance failures should include revoking or changing duties, dismissing them or not renewing contracts, it said.


Nigeria votes for a new president after delay

International and local electoral observers arrive to attend briefing by the chairman of the Nigerian Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) about preparations for the rescheduled general elections in Abuja, on February 20, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 23 February 2019
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Nigeria votes for a new president after delay

  • Neither has produced evidence and the elections watchdog has worked round the clock to overcome difficulties in delivering materials, which it had blamed for the postponement

ABUJA: Nigerians vote for a new president on Saturday after a week-long delay that has raised political tempers, sparked conspiracy claims and stoked fears of violence.
Some 120,000 polling stations were due to open at 0700 GMT, from megacity Lagos and the oil hub Port Harcourt in the south, to ancient Kano in the north and the country’s rural heartlands.
Results are expected from early next week, with the winner gaining control of Africa’s most populous nation and leading oil producer for four years.
In a crowded field of 73 presidential hopefuls, the two frontrunners — incumbent Muhammadu Buhari, 76, and former vice president Atiku Abubakar, 72 — are expected to vote in their home towns.
Electors are also choosing 360 members of the House of Representatives and 109 senators from a choice of 6,500 candidates.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) last Saturday announced a one-week delay to the election, just hours before it was due to get under way.
That angered voters who had already traveled to their home towns and villages to participate, and saw the main parties accuse the other of conspiring with INEC to rig the result.
Neither has produced evidence and the elections watchdog has worked round the clock to overcome difficulties in delivering materials, which it had blamed for the postponement.
INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu has given an indication of the scale of the task, announcing that more than 825,000 temporary staff had been drafted in to help conduct the vote.
More than 80,000 vehicles and nearly 1,000 boats have been hired to transport ballot papers, results and other materials to and from polling units.
“I want to reassure you that elections will be held on Saturday,” he said on Thursday. “There won’t be another postponement.”

The logistical fine-tuning, however, has been overshadowed by comments from Buhari that he had ordered security forces to be “ruthless” with vote-riggers and ballot-box snatchers.
Critics said his warning was a “license to kill” to the police and the military, while Abubakar said his comments were not fitting for an elected head of state.
Buhari has since sought to reassure voters not to be afraid, promising an “atmosphere of openness and peace, devoid of fear from threat or intimidation.”
Analysts SBM Intelligence say 233 people were killed in 67 incidents of election-related violence from last October to Friday — an average of two people per day.
The election campaign has come against a backdrop of wider violence from Boko Haram Islamists and criminal gangs in the north that have killed more than 200 people this month alone.
That could affect participation in some affected areas and combine with voter apathy from last weekend’s postponement to affect turnout, according to analysts.
Just over 84 million people were registered to vote but only 72.7 million (86 percent) of those will be allowed to vote, as they have picked up their voter identity cards.

In 2015, former military ruler Buhari became the first opposition candidate in Nigerian history to defeat a sitting president, beating Goodluck Jonathan by 2.5 million votes.
Buhari has again vowed to be tough on insecurity and corruption, and wants to complete much-needed road and rail infrastructure projects, as well as social mobility schemes.
Abubakar is a pro-business free marketeer whose main pledges have been to privatise giant state-run companies and float the embattled naira currency.
Nigerian elections have previously been characterised by voting along ethnic and religious lines.
But with Buhari and Abubakar both northern Muslims, that could split the northern vote, making southern states a key battleground.
Opponents have accused Buhari of trying to manipulate the judiciary that would rule on any dispute about the results, after he suspended the country’s chief justice this month.
Nigeria’s Business Day newspaper on Friday said whoever wins has to repair a “broken economy” limping back from recession, and hit by high unemployment, inflation and weak growth.
Some 87 million Nigerians live in extreme poverty, with the gulf between haves and have-nots widening.