Peacekeeping: Poorly Performing Peacekeepers Purged

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July 25, 2006: The poor quality of personnel that some countries have supplied for peace operations has led to a number of cases in which peacekeepers have committed crimes against the people they're supposed to be protecting, including robbery and rape. This problem has become acute since the war on terror has reduced the availability of troops from the advanced countries (Britain, Canada, Australia, France, the Scandinavians, etc.) that were formerly major suppliers of peacekeepers. As a result, the U.N. is adopting a number measures to improve the quality of the personnel that Third World nations provide for peacekeeping.
Money will be a major incentive. Some countries make a good deal of money out of peacekeeping, since the UN pays for the troops. Hitherto, the money has been provided to the government, which in turn is supposed to cover expenses, including paying the troops, keeping any surplus, which can be substantial, since UN funding is based on the Western standards of military costs. Alas, several countries have not always followed-through on the "paying the troops" part. So the UN will begin to give a small daily allowance or "pocket money" directly to the troops. In addition, countries are being put on notice that officers assigned to peacekeeping duty must be able to speak English, that the troops will be required to meet certain physical and training standards, and that peacekeeping contingents are to be provided with recreational equipment. Failure to meet these standards will result in rejection of the offered troops, on the theory that no peacekeepers are better than bad ones. Such a rejection will have serious financial repercussions for some countries. In 2005, for example, Ethiopia earned over $50 million as a result of its participation in peace operations.
Reportedly at least one country has be specifically told it must comply or its troops will not be accepted for peace operations. Tightening standards may initially make the shortage of peacekeepers worse, in most crises no peacekeepers are better than inept�"or evening criminal�"peacekeepers. But in the long run, as the new standards are adopted more widely, the problem will ease.

 


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