Example: UN Peacekeepers and Private Military, equal unaccountability?

The difference in accountability between UN and private military company troops is questionable. The following is news of a possible killing by a UN peacekeeper in Haiti:

The United Nations acknowledged Thursday that its peacekeepers likely opened fire on a car full of Haitian police officers this week, wounding two.

According to a preliminary investigation, five uniformed officers were driving toward a U.N. checkpoint on Monday when the peacekeepers opened fire, said U.N. spokesman Damian Onses-Cardona. He showed reporters photographs of the blue car, which had official license plates but no other markings. "The first elements of the investigation tend to show that U.N. peacekeepers could have done the shooting," Onses-Cardona said....Haitian police do not enter the slum, which a battalion of 1,500 Jordanian peacekeepers in armored vehicles has pledged to reclaim from the gangs.

This is a follow up on my Accountability of Non-State Force posting by illustrating the comparison with an example.

For more on this mission, go to UN Peacekeeping mission MINUSTAH website. The force is led by a Brazilian and is comprised of a noticable chunk of the It's a Small World Disney ride.

The question: will the PK troops be...

  1. Held just as accountable as "security consultants" in Iraq who, say, drive around and shoot up the place,
  2. Held just as UNaccountable as "security consultants" in Iraq, who, say, drive around and shoot up the place?

If they are accountable, will anything be done about it? Will Jordan, if it was their troops in the shoot for example, really punish their soldiers for the shooting?

Considering the ROE required of “complex peacekeeping” (i.e. modern peacekeeping operations, PKO, like Haiti and unlike border monitoring of yester-year, although those missions are still around) typically result not from military rational but from political sensitivities, straining the political support of the major powers. The long standing practice of “subcontracting” to other states for multinational, instead of uni-national, peacekeeping forces (PKF). Used in Somalia and Rwanda, for example, this increases pressure on the command and control of peacekeeping forces as the major states are reluctant to cede authority over, or often even commit, their forces to multinational military interventions politely termed as “conflict resolution missions”. The term "subcontracting" is a term used in the PKO literature, although I'm sure that's being expunged w/ the contemporary use of contracting, Annan's declaration of no distinction between respectable and non-respectable "mercenaries" not withstanding.

Consider this data for a recent six month period I surveyed using the UN's own data:

  • Pakistan contributed 13% of total military and civilian police manpower
  • Bangladesh 12%
  • India 7%
  • Ethiopia 5%
  • Ghana 5%

Are these states more good natured and interesting in the world holding hands and signing Kumbay-ya? No, these governments receive compensation for their participation (among other sources, see this UN Press Release). Remuneration received by these Blue Helmets blurs the distinction between private and public military forces, between corporate services and participation in the global economy or society.

There is clear evidence from past peacekeeping operations that this arrangement of “contracting parties lack[s] verification and mandatory evaluation safeguards to deliver promised results” Ironically, Kofi Annan at one time “bristled at the suggestion that the United Nations would ever consider working with ‘respectable’ mercenary organizations, arguing that there is no ‘distinction between respectable mercenaries and non-respectable mercenaries’” when in fact these “subcontractor” states function as hired organizations and enjoying the same accountability.