Wednesday, May 07, 2008

UN Under Fire in the Congo

The United Nations (UN) has had a checkered history in the Congo, since the role it played in the removal and subsequent assassination of Patrice Emery Lumumba, Congo's first elected Prime Minister, in the 1960s. (see Thomas Kanza's Rise and Fall of Patrice Lumumba and Kwame Nkrumah The Challenge of Congo).

It is often stated that the United Nations Mission in Congo (known by its French acronym, MONUC), has the largest U.N. peacekeeping troops in the world at almost 18,000. Although, factually correct, it is a misleading statement. The UN presence is paltry in a country the size of Western Europe compared to other parts of the world (see below chart).

Although the United Nations spends over $1 billion per year to maintain a presence in the Congo, that presence has been plagued with numerous missteps and wrongdoings. UN troops have been involved in the raping and prostitution of Congolese women and girls and of late, have been accused of smuggling natural resources and selling weapons to rebel groups. See below the latest articles, reports and statements regarding the UN presence in the Congo.
1. UN: Tackle Wrongdoing by Peacekeepers: Investigation Division Ignores Gold Smuggling and Arms Trading in Congo
2. Human Rights Watch Letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (PDF)
3. Head of UN Mission in Congo Denounces Trafficking Allegations
4. INTERVIEW-Congo abuse charges unfair, may hurt peace role -UN
5. UN troops 'armed DR Congo rebels'
6. Mission Impossible (BBC)
7. Congo spotlight on India and Pakistan


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