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UN moves to toughen response to peacekeeper misconduct

© AFP/File | UN peacekeeping missions are facing a damaging wave of allegations of sex abuse and of failing to help civilians caught up in violence

UNITED NATIONS (UNITED STATES) (AFP) - 

The UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution Friday aimed at toughening the UN response to peacekeeper misconduct following a string of failures by the blue helmets to protect civilians.

UN peacekeeping missions are facing a damaging wave of allegations of sex abuse and of failing to come to the aid of civilians caught up in violence, notably in the Central African Republic and South Sudan.

The United States presented the measure to improve peacekeeping performance but faced major resistance from Russia, which found it harsh toward troop-contributing countries.

The resolution is intended to reinforce measures such as repatriating peacekeepers, replacing units and withholding UN payments for soldiers involved in misconduct -- penalties that have irked troop contributors.

The measure "welcomes" special investigations set up by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to look into significant peacekeeping failures and stresses that the findings of these probes should be transparent.

At a council meeting last week, Pakistan, one of the top three troops contributors to peacekeeping, spoke out against a public "name-and-shame" approach to call out countries whose troops failed in their mission.

The United States, which is the number one financial contributor to the UN's $6.9 billion peacekeeping budget, has moved to cut funding and raised concern about the performance of missions.

A council diplomat described negotiations on the text as "very tough" and said there had been changes to the original draft that strongly pressured troop-contributing countries.

The United Nations has 96,000 peacekeepers serving in 14 missions worldwide.

Guterres has vowed to toughen the UN response to sexual abuse committed by the blue helmets and has appointed a victims' advocate to oversee the handling of cases.

His predecessor Ban Ki-moon took the unprecedented step of firing the commander of the mission in the Central African Republic over his handling of dozens of cases of sex abuse and misconduct by the peacekeepers.

Ban also sacked the head of the mission in South Sudan following a report that showed peacekeepers failed to respond to appeals for help from aid workers who came under attack at a nearby hotel compound.

© 2018 AFP