DR Congo: UN says allegations of trafficking by peacekeepers are under investigation

23 May 2007 – The United Nations today announced that allegations of gold and weapons trafficking by a number of its peacekeepers based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) are under investigation, and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pledged to act quickly on the findings, urging Member States to follow suit.

A spokesperson for Mr. Ban said his top envoy to the country, William Lacy Swing, requested an immediate investigation by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) after an internal inquiry by the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) brought these allegations to light. That investigation began in early 2006.

“OIOS says that the investigation is well advanced and is expected to be completed in about three weeks,” spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters in New York.

“The Secretary-General looks forward to the early completion of the investigation,” she said, pledging that he will on the findings “expeditiously and transparently.”

If wrongdoing is found to have occurred, Ms. Montas said, the Secretary-General will hold those responsible accountable and called on any concerned Member States to do the same.

MONUC issued its own statement today stressing that it “has an absolute zero-tolerance policy on misconduct and will remain vigilant in preventing egregious and unacceptable behaviour.”

The statement said the mission in the DRC “is determined to relentlessly pursue the disciplining of anyone whose conduct is substantiated as unbecoming a peacekeeper.”

At the same time, MONUC reiterated its confidence in the vast majority of its blue helmets, and voiced gratitude to the service working for peace in the DRC. In Ituri, it noted, peacekeepers have disarmed and demobilized more than 15,000 militia members.

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