IPI HomeEventsSpeakers EventsAlan Doss: "It's a Moral Dilemma, I Don't Hide That"

 

print print  |  share share back back

Speaker Events - Monday, December 14, 2009

Alan Doss: "It's a Moral Dilemma, I Don't Hide That"

Alan Doss, the Special Representative for the Secretary General for the Democratic Republic of Congo spoke to an overflow IPI audience on December 14, 2009 on the subject of the role of the United Nations in protecting civilians in the violence-plagued DRC.

Mr. Doss, a UN official for more than 30 years who previously served as SRSG  in Liberia, gave a broad-ranging account of the centrality and the challenging nature of protecting civilians in the midst of the many conflicts and armed groups in the DRC.

He spoke the day a report from Human Rights Watch was made public that criticized the UN mission in the DRC for backing military operations by Congolese government forces (FARDC) accused of committing human rights atrocities. It further urged the UN to cease supporting troops suspected of such crimes.

In reponse, Mr. Doss said, “I think the Human Rights Watch report that’s come out today documents that, and I think we all agree, it is horrendous and we must work to put a stop to it, but I think it is also important to recognize the scale and magnitude of the task and the various approaches that we are trying to adopt to deal with the problem.”

He then described a number of measures taken to address the problem and later in his talk returned to the topic to warn of the consequences of simply withdrawing support for the troops, many of whom are former militia members and rebel fighters newly integrated into the government force.

“If you stop support, it’s not blind support, it’s not support without a blank check, but at the same time, if we’re going to get the FARDC, we want to push forward, to reform, and so forth, we have to work with them,” he said. "It’s not by pushing them beyond the pale that we’re going to succeed in changing behavior.

“It’s a moral dilemma. I don’t hide that. But if we simply say we will not go near the FARDC, I’m not sure, in fact, it would make life better for the women and children of the Kivus, and certainly letting armed groups proliferate won’t make it any better. 

“But it’s a tough choice for us. It’s one of the dilemmas we face every single day when something awful happens, so I think we have to push on with the integration process as we’ve done in the past, but making it clear that there are limits, obviously, and certainly I think we all recognize that one, you cannot replace the national armed forces.  It [The UN] wasn’t sent to do that.

“And when we leave, those same armed forces are going to be responsible. So I think this is a difficult tough choice for us, and we have to make it clear that this is not, as I say, open- ended, non-conditional support, but equally well, I think we have to recognize the problems that the FARDC faces as it seeks to absorb all these people and make a decent modern professional accountable army out of a very, very imperfect set of materials.”

The event was moderated by Dr. Edward C. Luck, IPI Senior Vice President and Director of Studies.

 Read transcript

The Global Observatory

Boko Haram Deal to Release Girls Met With Hope and Skepticism
The announcement of a cease-fire agreement between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram has raised hope as well as speculations over its authenticity.

Key Global Events to Watch in October
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.

2014 Top 10 Issues to Watch in Peace & Security: The Global Arena
A list of ten key issues to watch that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2014, compiled by IPI's Francesco Mancini.

The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.

Recent Events

October 09, 2014
Rethinking Women and Forced Migration
The drastic increase in conflicts around the globe has seen the world’s displaced population pass 55 million people, and the fact that 80% of them are women and children is prompting many to rethink how the international community is responding.

October 09, 2014
Africa: China’s Second Continent
Speaking at an IPI Distinguished Author Series event on October 9th, author Howard French made a case for how Western underestimation of Africa’s economic promise has enabled China to establish an economic and human presence on the continent, leading to the permanent migration there of nearly 2 million Chinese.

September 30, 2014
Vike-Freiberga: Rethinking the United Nations
In a speech delivered at IPI on September 30th, Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga gave a sobering historical analysis of the gains and setbacks made by the international system over the past century and, focusing on the UN, she called for a rethinking of the organization’s structure and approach to peace.

View More