By Matthew Russell Lee
The United Nations has taken an unprecedented turn in the Eastern Congo, deploying attack helicopters and, under Herve Ladsous, drones, turning its troops into combatants, parties to an armed conflict.
But in the UN Security Council provisional program of work distributed Wednesday by the incoming Australian presidency, “DRC” is only a footnote.
On Wednesday afternoon Inner City Press asked Australia’s Permanent Representative Gary Quinlan why that is, if there shouldn’t be more oversight of what Quinland called the MONUSCO mission’s “forward leaning” approach.
Inner City Press asked about the Council’s last MONUSCO press statement on the issue of combatants (see here, and here for France’s refusal to answer), and if MONUSCO should be attacking the M23 group in areas assigned to it in the Kampala deal under which it withdrew from Goma.
Quinlan responded that “we may want to suggest it go on agenda, once the diplomatic process is sorted in next couple days.” UN envoy Mary Robinson is there — click here for Inner City Press’ exclusive interview with Rwanda’s Permanent Representative Eugene-Richard Gasana — among with envoys from the EU, African Union and Russ Feingold of the US. But what about Ladsous’ drones?
Quinlan said, “this question of do people become combatants, the issue is legally unresolved. You might address it, Matthew, to DPKO and at the Legal Office.”
Inner City Press did ask Patricia O’Brien of the Legal Office, and she made it clear the Intervention Brigade, and perhaps all of MONUSCO, are parties to the armed conflict. But apparently Ladsous is arguing differently, and having the UN Secretariat stonewall for him.