28 January 2011

The problems of peace keeper crime

What to do when a solution becomes a problem? I see no alternative to UN peace keeping operations (or, rather, no alternative which would not increase the sum of misery in the world), but peacekeepers, like any group of military personnel (or bureaucrats, for that matter ... or any group of human beings), are not going to be 100% plaster saints. Peace keeper crimes are a real problem which cannot and must not be ignored, and one with an increasing public profile.

Pursuing a data analytic brief relating to peace keeping effectiveness measures, I've happened across two papers dealing with accountability approaches to the problem. Both are worth reading if you have an interest in this area; I reproduce the abstracts here, and leave it to you to follow the links if you wish.

1: Odello

United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations have been increasingly deployed in many crisis contexts. The practice has been established by the UN to ensure peace and protect victims of different types of armed conflict. Unfortunately, during the past ten years, several cases of serious human rights violations committed by peacekeepers against people who should be protected by them have emerged. The UN has gone through a widespread analysis of the issues involved, from the managerial, administrative and legal points of view. The 2005 Zeid Report has provided the basis for further action within the UN system. Since then, several policy and legal measures have been discussed by relevant UN bodies and organs, and some new developments have taken place. This article offers an account and an analysis of the different steps taken within the UN to face difficult cases of misbehaviour, including human rights violations, which may lead to forms of criminal conduct. It takes into consideration the suggestions provided by the Zeid Report and subsequent UN documents. It focuses on legal developments and discusses the main problems in understanding the legal complexity of this phenomenon. The article includes updated documents and proposals that have been discussed and adopted until the most recent reports in 2009.

2: O'Brien

Personnel involved in United Nations (UN) peace operations have been found to commit misconduct, some of which amounts to criminal conduct. The UN has been working to establish a disciplinary system which will prevent and punish any misconduct by peace operation personnel. However, the UN cannot prosecute criminal perpetrators. Criminal jurisdiction can only be enacted by states and the International Criminal Court (ICC). This article seeks to analyse how Article 28 of the Rome Statute of the ICC can be used to prosecute commanders and superiors of a UN peace operation for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The application of Article 28, however, is not straightforward, due to the complexity of the command, authority and control structure of a peace operation. Examination of both military command and civilian superior responsibility is undertaken, including recognition of the cross-over of the roles of military and civilian commanders and superiors in peace operations. While this article argues that prosecution under command and superior responsibility is essential, the complications that may arise with the application of such responsibility are recognized and directions for the prosecutor offered.

  1. Marco Odello, "Tackling Criminal Acts in Peacekeeping Operations: The Accountability of Peacekeepers" in Journal of Conflict Security Law, 2010. 15(2): p. 347.
  2. O'Brien, M., "The Ascension of Blue Beret Accountability: International Criminal Court Command and Superior Responsibility in Peace Operations" in Journal of Conflict Security Law, 2010. 15(3): p. 533.

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