UN peacekeepers left hundreds of children after impregnating mothers in Haiti
Peacekeepers from the United Nations impregnated countless women in Haiti and left hundreds of children, according to new research by the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti published originally in The Conversation as well as the Journal of International Peacekeeping.
The researchers led by Sabina Lee, a professor at the University of Birmingham, and Susan Bartels, a scientist at Queen’s University interviewed roughly 2,500 Haitians and found 265 who were willing to share their stories about peacekeepers fathering children in Haiti.
“The narratives reveal how girls as young as 11 were sexually abused and impregnated by peacekeepers and then, as one man put it, ‘left in misery’ to raise their children alone,” says the study.
The report states U.N. personnel from more than a dozen countries were involved, although the majority of those listed are from Brazil and Uruguay, although Canada is included. It also suggested that most soldiers were repatriated once the pregnancy was known, in most cases leaving the child without assistance.
They also found that while violence was used in some instances, many involved a trade of sex for food or money.
A UN peace operations spokesperson said the organization takes the issues raised in the report “seriously.”
“Combating sexual exploitation and abuse perpetrated by personnel serving under the United Nations flag, whether in peacekeeping or special political missions, other United Nations entities or non-United Nations international forces authorized by a Security Council mandate, is a priority collective effort for the United Nations,” a UN peace operations spokesperson said in an e-mail to the Washington Post.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has cancelled his trip to the Caribbean after receiving backlash online on Sunday after it was reported he was still planning to go on the trip, despite Canadian cargo and passenger trains being shut down for the greater part of two weeks.
The Canadian Press reported Sunday afternoon Trudeau was still intending to go on the trip to the Caribbean, so it appears Trudeau backed out last minute.
The Prime Minister’s Office released a press release Sunday evening, less than 24 hours before his flight was supposed to take off to Barbados.
The PMO stated that Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne will go to represent Canada instead.
Trudeau was planning to continue his world tour to try and secure Canada a seat at the United Nations Security Council.
Last week Trudeau was in Africa and Europe trying to drum up support from foreign countries for the UN vote on who will get the seat. The prime minister was criticized throughout the week, including when he indicated Canada would be willing to help develop an African country’s oil and gas sector at the same time Canadian protesters are trying to shut down parts of Alberta’s oil and gas industry. Trudeau was also criticized roundly for shaking and bowing to Iran’s foreign minister a month after the country shot down a plane killing 57 Canadians and for not returning home sooner as the #ShutDownCanada protests continued to go on unabated.
Grocery, agriculture, retail sectors have all been affected by the protests. Some major cities also receive their chlorine for water treatment from CN Rail trains, which could mean drinking water in major cities may run out. Other cities rely on getting their propane to heat homes from trains.
Via Rail predicts over 83,000 passengers were affected and over 400 trains trips were cancelled due to the protest blockades over the past two weeks.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be flying to the Caribbean to court support for Canada gaining a seat on the UN Security Council, according to Global News.
Trudeau also plans to speak to the Caribbean leaders about climate change. Although, Canada’s prospective seat will be a more prominent issue during these meetings.
This comes after Trudeau’s trip to Ethiopia, where he attempted to garner support for Canada’s new role in the world with government leaders in the African Union.
During his Africa trip, Trudeau also granted a $10 million package to empower African women. Having said this, the more cynical commentators have seen this as a ploy to improve Canada’s chances of receiving a seat at the Security Council.
Canada is not the only country attempting that is attempting to procure a seat at the table. Both Ireland and Norway are also vying for a seat in the Security Council. The country that receives the most votes will occupy the seat for a two-year period.
Canada has not sat on the UN Security Council since 2000 under the leadership of Prime Minister Jean Chretien.
Would the International Criminal Court prosecutor opening an investigation into Palestine be a good idea?
Sarah Teich is a lawyer and a consultant to the Canadian Coalition Against Terror. She holds a law degree from the University of Toronto and a master’s degree in Counter-Terrorism. She spent four months in 2016 working with the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague and received a commendation for her work.
On December 20, 2019, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Ms. Fatou Bensouda, announced that she was prepared to open an investigation into the situation in Palestine, following a four-year preliminary examination. Ms. Bensouda articulated that she was satisfied there was a “reasonable basis to believe” that war crimes have been or are being committed on Palestinian territory–which she defines as the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.
This is a loaded announcement, and a brief backgrounder on how the Court operates and the history of Palestinian interaction with it–is essential to understanding this development.
Generally, there are three stages to Prosecution at the Court: the preliminary examination, the investigation, and the trial. The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) currently has several situations in preliminary examination. Most situations are referred to the Court by the State Party in question (“self-referrals”), from governments who lack the capacity to take on these cases domestically. The OTP conducts many preliminary examinations, but not all make it to the investigation stage. For the OTP to open an investigation, it needs to be satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes have been committed, that the Court has jurisdiction over the situation, that no domestic proceedings are covering the issue, and that the situation is of sufficient gravity to warrant use of the Court’s limited resources.
Critically, the OTP only has jurisdiction to investigate crimes that occur in the territory of a State Party, or crimes by State Party nationals. That is, unless the Court has received a specific declaration by a non-state party accepting jurisdiction, or a mandate from the U.N. Security Council to investigate a specific situation.
Despite Ms. Bensouda’s assertion that there is a “reasonable basis” to believe war crimes have been committed in Palestine, there are serious jurisdictional concerns to be considered before any investigation may be initiated.
For starters, is Palestine really a “State”, such that it can confer jurisdiction to the Court? Ms. Bensouda posits that because Palestine is a State Party to the Rome Statute, that is sufficient to close this debate and label Palestine a State. However, this interpretation is inconsistent with well-established principles of public international law.
Specifically, article 1 of the Montevideo Convention, which Ms. Bensouda herself acknowledges as “the most accepted formulation of statehood criteria in international law”–establishes four criteria for statehood. These criteria are permanent population, defined territory, effective government, and capacity to enter into relations with foreign states. Palestinians do appear to have a permanent population, but the other three criteria are lacking. To fulfill the territorial requirement, there must be exclusive control of territory within fixed boundaries. Then, there must be effective government capable of controlling the territory. As Ms. Bensouda acknowledges, the Palestinian Authority does not have control over all territories claimed. The Palestinian Authority does not control Gaza (Hamas does), and Israel has full control over East Jerusalem and large swaths of the West Bank. Palestine may have some capacity to enter foreign relations, as it is able to sign treaties and join international bodies–but this is also disputed, due to provisions of the Oslo Accords.
Ms. Bensouda suggests that this type of analysis should essentially be side-stepped because Palestine is already a State Party to the Rome Statute. But perhaps Palestine should not have been permitted to become a State Party. In fact, this was the position taken by the Government of Canada; that Palestine should not have been permitted to become a State Party. Canada believed this was both legally wrong, and also diminished the likelihood of a sustainable, negotiated peace between Israel and Palestine–down the road.
Even if the Court gets past the difficulties with Palestinian statehood, there is the next question of territorial jurisdiction. Does the Court have jurisdiction to investigate crimes in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza? Palestine is a State Party to the Rome Statute, but Israel is not, and the Court only has jurisdiction over crimes committed in the territory of a State Party. So, the next question becomes: what constitutes the territory of Palestine? Does the territory of Palestine include the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza? That is the position taken by Palestine and adopted by Ms. Bensouda. However, for the Court to take this position would be problematic. As Ms. Bensouda acknowledges, these borders are disputed.
Precisely because of the disputed nature of the borders, Ms. Bensouda is now asking a panel of Court judges to rule on the scope of her territorial jurisdiction – to “confirm” that Palestinian territory for purposes of jurisdiction includes the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. For the Court to step into this highly politicized arena and to essentially draw the borders of two states without their consent–is a dramatic overstep and would be detrimental to the ongoing peace process. These questions that the Court is now tasked with answering, are matters of policy and diplomacy, not international crime. The issues are best left to the negotiation table, not the courtroom.
When Palestine became a State Party, Canada objected. Canada also objected to Palestine’s “self-referral” to the Court of this situation back in 2015. Canada should continue to object to these moves. This is not what the International Criminal Court was designed to do.
The attacks on Saudi oil facilities in September cannot so far be confirmed to have originated from Iran, according to a UN report.
The Saudi Kingdom believes Iran was the nation behind drone and cruise missile attacks which earlier sent a portion of the global oil supply temporarily offline, but a leaked UN report says investigators cannot find enough proof of origin.
“At this time, [the UN] is unable to independently corroborate that the cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles used in these attacks are of Iranian origin,” Secretary General António Guterres wrote in the report, seen by Reuters and AFP news agencies.
The Houthi movement currently fighting against the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has taken responsibility for the attacks, while Iran has denied involvement.
Currently, some believe the Houthis could not execute such a large-scale attack without outside help, but others have argued the opposite pointing to the relatively low cost of drone strikes, with most costing no more than $15,000 per hit, according to an expert speaking to the New York Times.
While drone strikes are relatively cheap, the report interestingly did find that the Houthis “have not shown to be in possession, nor been assessed to be in possession” of the drones used in the attacks.
This key caveat could leave open the possibility of outside help or involvement.