The Niagara News is the community newspaper of Niagara College located in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada. It is created and produced by the students of the Niagara College Journalism program.
It’s time we admitted to ourselves that the United Nations as a peacekeeping body has failed. Time and again it stands by and squabbles or applies sanctions while innocent civilians are tortured, raped and murdered.
M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) took the city of Goma by force on Nov. 20, while UN peacekeepers stood by and did nothing to stop them. These rebels, as they are called, have been accused by Human Rights Watch of widespread war crimes including rapes, forced recruitment and summary executions.
Eduardo del Buey, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, explained the inaction in a CBC report. “There has to be a value judgment made. Do you open fire and put civilians at risk, or do you hold your fire, continue your patrols, observe what’s happening and remind the M23 they are subject to international humanitarian and human rights law?”
Worse still is how, after Goma was taken, many of the defeated drunken Congolese soldiers went through the town, looting, raping and killing.
Again the UN did nothing.
Perhaps nothing is the wrong word. The UN Security Council did do something: it voted unanimously to sanction the leaders of M23, with travel bans and the freezing of assets, and it demanded M23 withdraw from Goma, disarm and disband.
Maybe the Security Council doesn’t realize the M23 leaders don’t plan to travel. They are quite comfortable in Goma. Does the council think the rebels will have a hard time raping women without those assets? They aren’t sanctioning the Jersey Shore.
Has anyone ever listened to UN demands? The M23 certainly isn’t listening.
M23 political leader Jean Marie Runiga has said the group is for withdrawing from Goma but will only do so if certain conditions are met.
This ineffective mission, known as MONUSCO, costs the UN about $1 billion per year, according to Al Jazeera. The mandate of MONUSCO is to protect the civilians of DRC. I think we can now say conclusively that mandate has not been met, that mission has failed.
Security Council delegates need to stop what they are doing, get back to their seats and hammer out a new direction for peacekeeping around the world.
The blue helmets need to go. They are, at best, hampered by their inability to use force, except in circumstances of self-defence, and, at worst, they are corrupt and complacent.
We need to see the often mentioned, never discussed rapid-response task force discussed immediately.
Fill it with special forces from Security Council staff, send whoever can respond the most quickly, do it however it must be done but throw the blue helmets to the ground and smash them and with them the old way of doing things.
It’s time to demolish this decrepit structure and clear the space for a strong foundation for peace.