Accountability for Crimes Against Peacekeepers

Event Video 

At a policy forum cohosted by IPI and the Permanent Mission of the Netherlands to the UN on March 28th, IPI Head of the Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations Jenna Russo announced the recent publication and first independent report on the topic of accountability for crimes against peacekeepers, written by IPI Senior Policy Analyst Agathe Sarfati. The report highlights striking contrasts between the number of fatalities and the number of prosecutions: Since 2013, over 250 peacekeepers have been killed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, and the Central African Republic, but only eight trials were conducted in relation to these crimes.

The UN Secretariat has focused on increasing accountability to peacekeepers, including fighting impunity for crimes against peacekeepers as part of the Action for Peacekeeping Plus priorities (A4P+). Stéphane Jean, DPO and OROLSI’s focal point on the topic, emphasized the dual objective of holding perpetrators of crimes against peacekeepers accountable: “Those who maim and kill UN Personnel are often the same who victimize and target civil society. Political, financial, and technical support from member states is critical.”

As the UN aims to advance both accountability of and accountability to peacekeepers, this policy forum examined the progress and remaining challenges linked to fighting impunity for crimes against peacekeepers.

Representatives from MINUSMA and MINUSCA noted the challenges to support investigations and prosecutions while affirming that convictions are not the end-all be-all.

Mona Ali Khalil of the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict emphasized that if we ask for accountability for peacekeepers, we also need to ask for accountability of peacekeepers.

Colonel Ashish Bhalla of India noted increased violence and risks in security environments of contemporary peace operations. India, the largest troop-contributing country (TCC) to UN missions championed Resolution 2589 and played a key role in the creation of the Group of Friends to promote accountability for crimes against peacekeepers. Unfortunately, promoting accountability is not a simple task and is often difficult to put into practice.

Both the event and publication are part of IPI’s broader workstream on A4P+, funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Opening Remarks:
Jenna Russo, Director of Research and Head of the Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations, International Peace Institute
Djeyhoun Ostowar, Deputy Head of Political Affairs Section, Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN

Stéphane Jean, UN Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions (OROLSI), Department of Peace Operations (DPO)
Colonel Ashish Bhalla, Military Adviser, Permanent Mission of India to the UN
Rafik Maamar, Head of Criminal Investigations, UNPOL, MINUSCA (Via Zoom)
Ahmed Ghanem-Ali, Chief, Justice and Corrections Section, MINUSMA (Via Zoom)
Mona Ali Khalil, Affiliate, Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict; Former UN Senior Legal Officer (Via Zoom)

Agathe Sarfati, Senior Policy Analyst, International Peace Institute