November 3, 2012 by soniauwimana
It is unclear exactly how Steven Hege became appointed a member, then coordinator, of the Group of Experts on the DRC. It will almost certainly become the subject of an internal inquiry in the aftermath of the his final report’s release later this month, the findings of which should inform a thorough review of the vetting procedures used by the United Nations when making such appointments. Hege is fast becoming a byword for a broader systemic failure within the UN itself.
The Hege scandal grows daily. Today, it has become clear that Uganda is serious about withdrawing its significant peacekeeping contingent in Somalia in protest at his efforts. Those who think Kampala are bluffing don’t know Kampala. Nor should this be considered an act of petulance. Ask yourself this: why should a resource-strapped nation like Uganda make a contribution to peacekeeping — and put their troops in harm’s way — if what they receive in return is reckless abuse at the hands of a UN-sanctioned group engaging in the basest kind of political score-settling?
Ultimately, the UN cannot have it both ways.
Countries like Uganda and Rwanda are more than willing to play their full part in international peacekeeping and other initiatives. The UN embraces this because recent history shows that African troops are the best bet when it comes to confronting security challenges on the continent.
But African states cannot be expected to make this contribution while at the same time enduring mistreatment at the hands of UN-backed expert panels of a sort that a developed country would never accept.