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.
The Global Observatory
Are Recent Prison Breaks in Nigeria Part of a Southward Expansion by Boko Haram?
Whoever is behind them, these prison breaks signal that Nigeria’s authorities are struggling to maintain the rule of law, not just in the far northeast, but also in the Middle Belt and the southwest.
Key Global Events to Watch in December
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.
December 09, 2014
Small States in a Multilateral World
Despite their size and limited resources, small states have an important and crucial role to play in the multilateral system and can leverage their power through cooperation.
December 02, 2014
Protecting Civilians in Armed Conflict: From Concept to Norm
Five years after the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1894, the concept of Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict (PoC) has become a widely accepted norm at the UN, featuring more and more in Council mandates and becoming a cornerstone of UN missions on the ground.
November 27, 2014
Dialogue on Multilateralism Continues in Geneva
The Geneva launch of the Independent Commission on Multilateralism (ICM) took place on November 27th in the Palais de Nations, the UN headquarters in Geneva which used to be the seat of the League of Nations.
December 15, 2014
Video: Nazila Fathi on the Struggle for Modern Iran
December 12, 2014
Video: Effective Governance in Challenging Environments
September 25, 2014
IPI Remembers Margaret Vogt