GEOPOLITICS

Judging the UN in Haiti: ‘We Let the Haitians Down’

The population it serves can misunderstand a United Nations peacekeeping mandate. In the host country, with people’s lives, infrastructure and administrative systems often rendered dysfunctional by conflict, the population expects peacekeepers to restore order, build roads and other essentials, provide work, render justice and make life like it was before if not better. They don’t … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Haitian Letters Remind the UN of Cholera Victims’ Sadness

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Here in the office of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux in Haiti’s capital, more than 2,000 letters of cholera victims seeking justice came pouring in to be delivered on Dec. 10 to the headquarters of the United Nations peacekeeping mission as part of a protest on Human Rights Day. It was a straightforward, … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

As Cholera Resurges in Haiti, the UN’s Commitment to Prevent It Fails

HINCHE, Haiti — We were driving back from watching a soccer game here in central Haiti when my friend instinctively rolled up his window. It can get dusty on Haitian country roads, so I rolled up mine, too, even though I didn’t see anything in the air. I did see the man up ahead on … Read more

Health Services Still Lag in Haiti, Shadowed by Cholera

More than five years have passed since the heart of Haiti was crushed by a cataclysmic earthquake that killed at least 230,000 people, only to be followed by an outbreak of cholera later that year that has left about another 9,000 dead. Billions of dollars in international aid have begun to show gains in infrastructure … Read more

 

WORLDVIEWS

Haitians’ Rights Were Violated Over Cholera Outbreak, UN Experts Assert

In September 2014, four United Nations human-rights experts wrote to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon alleging that the UN had violated human rights through the cholera epidemic in Haiti, which broke out in October 2010. This is the first time that an allegation letter — a formal complaint procedure typically used against governments — has been filed … Read more

Colombia Takes a First Step to Participate in UN Peacekeeping Operations

As Colombia’s long civil war appears to be headed toward a hard-sought peaceful settlement, the government may be ready to send soldiers from its huge, well-financed military to participate in peacekeeping missions of the United Nations. Colombian forces’ work in fighting terrorism was presented as a selling point by its defense ministry, but the military’s human-rights … Read more

UN Peacekeepers Who Turned Predatory in Haiti

  On Jan. 23, the members of the United Nations Security Council will head to Haiti. It’s safe to assume that they will focus on the political crisis: because parliamentary elections were not held by Haiti’s legislative deadline, the current government, headed by President Michel Martelly, is now ruling by decree. It’s also safe to … Read more

Helping Congolese Women, One Community at a Time

League for Congolese Solidarity

Two innovative women from the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, where violence against women and girls has been harsh and unrelenting through years of lawlessness and civil conflict, came to New York in early March with a message of progress and hope. They have been chipping away at the epidemic of abuse, working not … Read more

 

A Sobering Security Council Trip to Haiti

Security Council Visits the Fort National UN Base in Haiti

One of the most interesting developments in the Security Council’s work in the past decades is the increasing frequency and immediacy of “road trips” ambassadors are taking to the most problematic places on their agenda. Recent delegations have gone on missions to Afghanistan and numerous African nations, among other places. A year-old Russian proposal for … Read more

GOINGS-ON

First Global Human Rights Survey Completed

When the Human Rights Council was created in 2006 to replace the woeful Human Rights Commission, one novelty assigned to the new body was the Universal Periodic Review, which would, over a period of four years, methodically assess the rights records of all UN member nations for the first time. On Oct.13, the process was … Read more

Peacekeeping’s New Chief Intent on Urgent Issues

Hervé Ladsous, a French diplomat who is the new under secretary-general for United Nations peacekeeping operations, said on Thursday that though he had “no predetermined grand vision” for the agency, he would focus on cutting back on the UN’s presence in Haiti; its work in Sudan and South Sudan; and the death this week of three peacekeepers in Darfur.

In his first address to the UN press corps, Ladsous emphasized that protecting UN peacekeepers is a top priority. Eighty-six peacekeepers have died this year so far, including 29 civilians.

“Peacekeepers nowadays have very complicated mandates, very complex, very specialized,” he said. “We need to give them all the means to face these challenges.”

With a full head of white hair and a straightforward manner, Ladsous is a departure from his French predecessor, Alain Le Roy, a bear-size man with a gentle demeanor. Ladsous is also a step apart from the soft-spoken but articulate Jean-Marie Guéhenno, another French diplomat who had the post before Le Roy. Yet Ladsous brings extensive knowledge of his past UN experience to the job, which he was assigned in September by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Herve Ladsous, the under secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, addressing the UN press corps on Oct. 14, 2011. He says that pressing issues include security for peacekeepers, cutting back in Haiti and the missions in Sudan and South Sudan. PAULO FILGUEIRAS/UN PHOTO

France is the fifth-largest financial contributor, nearly 8 percent, to the UN peacekeeping department’s budget for 2010-2012. (The US is the largest.)  The peacekeeping department has 16 missions totaling about 122,000 personnel and a current annual budget of $7.8 billion.

Most recently, Ladsous was the chief of staff for French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé; he has been France’s ambassador to Indonesia and China and was the deputy permanent representative to the United Nations in New York and a delegate to the UN in Geneva. He also served as a chief of affairs for France in Haiti. Ladsous was born in 1950 and has a degree from the National School of Oriental Languages and Civilizations in Paris as well as a law degree.

Acknowledging that the peacekeeping department has reached its highest staffing levels ever, Ladsous said it would make cuts that could include Haiti.

“There is a lot of desire from the government of Haiti” and the Haitian people to “reclaim Minustah,” the abbreviation for the UN mission,” he said. The Security Council decides today on whether to renew the mission’s mandate for another year. The secretary-general has recommended that the council reduce peacekeeping staff by 2,750 police officers and military personnel. [On Oct. 14, the Security Council voted to extend the mission’s mandate for a year and cut uniformed personnel there by 2,500 people, leaving about 10,500 in place.]

Ladsous is heading to South Sudan and Sudan in the next two weeks on his first trip in his new post. There, at the contested border between the two countries, fighting has been brutal, particularly bombing directed by Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and other criminal acts.

But the Security Council has not passed a resolution yet regarding the fighting, though this summer it authorized an interim force, called Unisfa, supplied by Ethiopia to work in the contested border area of Abiyeh. Ladsous said that the security force’s efforts were hindered by the rainy season, making roads impassable and conflict prevention difficult. When the rains end, migrations traditionally begin, he said, along with potential for violence.

“My first goal is to get to know the interlocutors,” he said, discussing how he will proceed, meeting the leaders of South Sudan and Sudan, the UN missions and people in Darfur and Abiyeh, noting the recent fatal attacks of three peacekeepers in Darfur, which is part of Sudan and where the UN and the African Union have a joint mission. The UN also has a new peacekeeping force, called Unmiss, in South Sudan; the mission in Sudan was closed this summer.

While in Africa, Lasdous will travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which is a big contributor of peacekeeping troops.

Reform of the peacekeeping agency will prevail under his leadership, Ladsous said. “Protection of civilians, helping countries changing police and justice” and protecting the rights of women are part of the mix. Years ago, he added, there were no women special representatives in UN peacekeeping; now a third of those jobs are filled by women. The agency will keep pushing this agenda with UN Women, the newest UN entity. [See Barbara Crossette’s article on UN Women: http://passblue.com/barbara-crossette/]

Ladsous emphasized that he wanted to learn and talk to “all those who have a stake” in peacekeeping, noting that partnerships and working with governments, troop contributors, the peacekeepers themselves, other UN agencies and regional organizations – like the European Union – are on his agenda. Investments in communication tools and helicopters are two areas that must continue, he added, along with building skills and knowledge.  Financial concerns by member countries, however, require the department to find the “best value for their money.”

As to sending UN troops to Libya, Lasdous said that no request by the interim government had been heard. The department provides police advisers and rule of law experts to the new UN political mission in Tripoli, headed by Ian Martin, a former British diplomat and a founder of Amnesty International.

Lasdous described the wait-and-see attitude on Libya as “comme aller les choses,” or “as things go.”

[This article was updated on Oct. 14, 2011.]

Support nonprofit journalism →
Left Menu Icon

Don't Miss a Story:

Subscribe to PassBlue

Sign up to get the smartest news on the UN by email, joining readers across the globe.​

We respect your privacy and take protecting it seriously​