By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, September 23 -- India has been the largest contributor to UN Peacekeeping -- 185,000 troops in 44 of the UN's total of 69 missions -- so Inner City Press on September 23 at the Waldorf Astoria after the arrival of Indian Prime Minister Modi asked what India is looking for from the Peacekeeping summit Modi will attend on September 28.
India's Ambassador to the UN Ashoke Mukerje replied that India would like Troop Contributing Countries to be consulted more meaningfully, citing Article 44 of the UN Charter; he emphasized India's skilled personnel and the protection of civilians. Inner City Press asked about DPKO boss Ladsous' comments linking rapes to “R&R,” Mukerje's earlier response is below.
(The venue of Modi's meeting with Obama is not yet clear; the G4 Summit will occur Saturday September 26 at 8 am in the Waldorf, after which Modi heads to the West Coast including, yes, Facebook.
The buzz at the Indian press conference was how large the (Empire) room was, and of Modi staying in what used to be Obama's and other US Presidents' suite.)
When peacekeepers from France allegedly raped children in the Central African Republic and the UN learned about it more than a year ago, theUN and UNICEF did nothing, until French UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous asked to fire the whistleblower Anders Kompass in March of this year, as stated in two UN Dispute Tribunal rulings.
On September 11, refusing to answer on this, Ladsous instead linked the rapes to soldiers' lack of "distraction" and saying rapes could be avoided by some "relatively cheap R&R," and adding that some "South Asia"Troop Contributing Countries do just that. Video here.
On September 17, Inner City Press asked the Permanent Representative of India, Asoke K Mukerji, and his Deputy Bhagwant Bishnoi about what Ladsous said. Video here. First, Bhagwant Bishnoi distinguished India from what Ladsous said, saying they only rotate troops in the most difficult circumstances. In some, one a year, if more volatile, more often.
Then Ambassador Mukerji said clear, India's is a professional army, not a part time army, there are no "R&R" trips and that is for whoever said it to explain. Video here.
That would be Ladsous, who refuses to answer Press questions. He took no questions as he rushed out of the Security Council on September 17.
(India's Prime Minister will participate in the high level meeting on peacekeeping on September 28, which we'll cover.)