In-House Investigations

Amidst a post on Haditha and the American military’s ability to investigate itself, Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds can’t resist landing a cheap shot against the UN, which he claims has been unwilling to investigate abuses in peacekeeping missions. The opposite is true.
Since reports of sexual abuse surfaced in the Congo in 2004 there have been at least 291 investigations into peacekeeping mission personnel. According to the latest annual peacekeeping report, published March 2006, as a result of these investigations, 16 civilians have been fired, along with 16 members of formed police units. Further, some 137 military personnel were repatriated on disciplinary grounds, including six commanders.

(For reference, in April, Human Rights First along with Human Rights Watch and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at the New York University School of Law documented (pdf) some 330 cases in which over 600 U.S. military personnel are credibly alleged to have abused detainees since the start of the Afghan war. So far, only 54 have been convicted by court-martial.)

Beyond the statistics, it’s noteworthy that the Secretary General tapped Jordan’s Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein to lead the UN’s drive to increase oversight and accountability mechanisms to prevent future abuses. Prince Zeid is a global authority on international humanitarian law, and was the first president of the International Criminal Court’s governing body. His name brought immense credibility to a March 2005 report that recommended wide ranging reforms, including setting up special Conduct and Discipline units at the eight largest peace keeping missions.

As we saw with the 372nd Military Police Company in Abu Ghraib and Moroccan peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic, soldiers in conflict zones can sometimes commit terrible human rights violations. Contra Glenn Reynolds, the United Nations seems to understand this, and has taken allegations of abuse serious enough to swiftly implement broad reforms in its peace-keeping operations.