Continued from yesterday…
Although the UN claims to spend close to $8bn (£6.5bn) every year on peacekeeping mission around the world with the bulk going to missions in Africa, a 2017 report by a Geneva-based research group Small Arms Survey accused its mission in South Sudan (Unmiss) for lacking neutrality by giving arms to rebels in the town of Bentiu in 2013. A damning internal investigation found that its peacekeeping mission in Juba failed “to protect civilians under threat of physical violence – with specific protection for women and children.” In the northern part of Central African Republic (CAR), the UN mission (Minusca) was also accused of inaction which led to the killing of more than 75 people including civilians during an outbreak of violence in September 2016. Between 2014 and 2015, a UN inquiry named 41 peacekeepers in relation to alleged sexual abuses and exploitation in CAR. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, there were anti-UN protests against Mission Monusco in the Eastern region of Kivu where armed groups committed massacres in Beni region.
In Libya, the UN watched as a civil war led to the disintegration of Jamahiriya into clan-based regions. While this lasted, Muammar Gaddafi (C. 1942 – 20 October 2011) was ousted and their oil was cheaply taken to Europe through the Benghazi oil terminals. Except for NATO’s efforts which threw few bombs here and there and eventually disappeared, the UNSC did not intervene. What is more, during the civil war in Sierra Leone, the UNSC could not enforce an arms embargo on Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Slovakia (Eastern European countries) who supplied weapons to Liberia and afterwards, to Sierra Leone through European and West African accomplices. In like manner, peace efforts eluded the UN in Darfur (Western Sudan) despite its mission there. The seeming competition for power between power-brokers such as the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU), the organisation failed to ensure a truce between warring parties in that country.
The 14th edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI) which ranks 163 independent states and territories according to their level of peacefulness revealed that: “Civil unrest in sub-Saharan Africa rose by more than 800 percent over the period, from 32 riots and protests in 2011 to 292 in 2018.” This report which presents the most comprehensive data-driven analysis on up-to-date trends in peace, its economic value and how to develop peaceful societies that is produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) further disclosed that terrorism and internal conflicts are the biggest contributors to the global deterioration in peacefulness.
At 75 and beyond, the organisation should initiate dialogues towards reversing global trends which have truncated progress around the world such as the current global health crisis. It should also be proactive in ending severe economic and social upheavals, growing inequalities, gender-based violations, human rights abuses, the migration crisis and global change among other issues begging for attention. These dialogues should include priority areas like building a better future for all and creating a more humane society. Above all, it should work in compliance with international humanitarian law towards greater progress in the area of ensuring accountability.
Going forward, the UN should model its interventions on the AU’s initiative for Somalia, Amisom or the South African and Tanzanian interventions in DR Congo which were successful. An Afrocentric rather Americanised or Europeanised intervention is crucial for Africa. There should be a more transparent system which holds UN peacekeepers and missions accountable for abuses in Africa and beyond. The UN has done well but can still do better. There should be a triangulation analysis of the body’s peacekeeping mission in Africa. In the global peace index, Africa is still living with scars of conflicts. Member nations of the AU must be proactive otherwise, the continent would remain a recipient of Greek gifts in exchange for its precious human and natural resources. Is Africa content with being a continent of civil unrests as the Global Peace Index 2020 suggests? Wishing the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres and all UN staff happy 75th anniversary!
Fr. Dyikuk is a Lecturer of Mass Communication, University of Jos, Editor – Caritas Newspaper and Convener, Media Team Network Initiative (MTNI), Nigeria.