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India lashes out against ‘powerless’ UN Security Council

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United Nations: Calling the Security Council ineffective and powerless, India has lashed out against its lack of accountability and transparency in mandating peacekeeping operations and blamed it for the rising casualties among peacekeepers.

“We are dismayed at the opaque manner in which the Security Council continues to mandate peace operations, without any accountability or transparency,” India’s Permanent Representative Asoke Kumar Mukerji said Monday at a General Assembly session on peacekeeping operations.

“The human costs of this failing are evident in both the rising number of casualties among UN peacekeepers, as well as an alarming growth in the number of civilians, now reaching 60 million according to the Secretary General, whose lives are being disrupted by the conflicts that an ineffective Security Council is powerless to resolve,” Mukerji added.

As of the end of September, 85 peacekeepers have died this year.

Mukerji appealed to Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft to “take the lead to prioritise agreement on an early reform of the Security Council during this 70th Session.”

He also reiterated India’s consistent demand the implementation “in letter and spirit” the UN Charter provisions that require the Security Council to consult with troop-providing countries when issuing peacekeeping mandates.

Speaking at the session, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also backed the call for better coordination between the Security Council and the troop-contributors. “A shared understanding of the tasks involved between the Security Council and the troop and police contributing countries was required, as was cooperation with national actors and local communities,” he said.

The session was centered on Ban’s report on implementing the recommendations of the High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) which was headed by Jose Ramos-Horta and included Abhijit Guha, a retired Indian lieutenant general.

Mukerji said that implementation report had great importance for India, which is the largest overall troop contributor to UN peace operations, with over 185,000 troops that have served in 48 of the 69 UN missions. India currently has 7,794 personnel under UN’s blue flag.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has offered to increase India’s troop-contribution by 10 percent when he participated at a summit on peacekeeping last month, Mukerji said. India would also be adding three police battalions with a high proportion of women and provide training for peacekeepers from other nations, he added.

Mukerji welcomed the “renewed focus on prevention and mediation” in Ban’s plan for implementing the HIPPO. All the 42 speakers at the session supported the emphasis on political solutions to end or prevent conflicts to maintain peace.

South Asian countries are among the largest contributor of personnel to the UN peacekeeping operations. Bangladesh, which is currently the largest contributor, has 9,432 personnel in UN missions, Pakistan 7,533 and Nepal 5,346.

Pakistan’s Permanent Representative also welcomed the proposal for better consultations with troop-contributing countries. Like many others, she opposed deploying peacekeepers for counter-terrorism operations.

Bangladesh Deputy Permanent Representative Sadia Faizunnesa called for involving all the countries sending troops to the UN operations in implementing the HIPPO recommendations.

(Arul Louis, IANS)

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Islamic State War Crimes in Iraq being Investigated: UN Team

The United Nations Security Council has voted unanimously to establish an investigative team to help Iraq secure evidence of atrocities committed by Islamic State militants "that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide

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Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walk toward the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain, near the Syrian border town of Elierbeh of Al-Hasakah Governorate (voa)

Iraq, September 22, 2017: The United Nations Security Council has voted unanimously to establish an investigative team to help Iraq secure evidence of atrocities committed by Islamic State militants “that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.”

Britain, which drafted the resolution, said the team would bring some justice to those who had experienced atrocities at the hands of IS, variously known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh.

The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, called the resolution “a landmark” that would “provide an indispensable record of the scope and scale” of IS atrocities.

“This means justice for those people who have been victimized by ISIS,” Nadia Murad, a former IS captive in Iraq, said in a Facebook Live video after attending the council vote with well-known international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney.

ISLAMIC STATE
Yazidi survivor and U.N. Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human trafficking Nadia Murad, center, visits her village for the first time after being captured and sold as a slave by the Islamic State three years ago, in Kojo, Iraq, (VOA)

Clooney represents women of Iraq’s Yazidi minority who were kidnapped and held as sex slaves by IS militants after the terrorist organization conquered large swaths of Iraq in mid-2014.

“It’s a huge milestone for all of those who’ve been fighting for justice for victims of crimes committed by ISIS,” Clooney said in the Facebook Live video. “It says to victims that their voices will be heard and they may finally get their day in court.”

Since then, U.S.-backed Iraqi forces have driven IS from most of the land it had seized in Iraq, retaking all the major urban areas, although the group still controls some pockets in Iraq as well as territory in Syria.

ALSO READ UN Human Rights Chief Urges Iraqi Government to help Victims of Islamic State (ISIS) Sex Abuse

IS fighters have been on the run in Iraq since U.S.-backed Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul, Iraq’s second city and the Islamic State’s former stronghold capital, in July.

Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled the August 2014 massacre in Sinjar, and U.N. rights investigations have documented horrific accounts of abuse suffered by women and girls, such as Murad. About 3,000 women are believed to remain in IS captivity.

But Human Rights Watch criticized the resolution as a missed opportunity by the council “to address war crimes and rights abuses by all sides to the conflict in Iraq.”

“No one denies the importance of tackling the widespread atrocities by ISIS in Iraq, but ignoring abuses by Iraqi and international forces is not only flawed, it’s shortsighted,” said Balkees Jarrah, senior international justice counsel at Human Rights Watch. “The pursuit of justice is essential to all victims who saw their loved ones tortured and killed, or houses burned and bombed, regardless of who is responsible.” (VOA)