Does the U.N. cooperate with indicted war criminals?

Official reports surfaced today indicating that Bosco Ntaganda, who the International Criminal Court has indicted for war crimes, was involved in a recent offensive carried out by the army in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The operation, supported by the United Nations and meant to route out a Hutu mitilia group in the Eastern region, ...

By , International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.
586280_090429_bosco2.jpg
586280_090429_bosco2.jpg
Rebel General Ntaganda Bosco smiles as he arrives at his mountain base on January 11, 2009 in Kabati, 40km north west of the provincial capital Goma. General Bosco Ntaganda has declared himself the new leader of the National Commitee for the Defense of the People (CNDP) and said that General Laurent Nkunda is no longer in command. CNDP rebels pushed back government troops to the outskirts of Goma in a recent offensive. AFP PHOTO/ LIONEL HEALING (Photo credit should read LIONEL HEALING/AFP/Getty Images)

Official reports surfaced today indicating that Bosco Ntaganda, who the International Criminal Court has indicted for war crimes, was involved in a recent offensive carried out by the army in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The operation, supported by the United Nations and meant to route out a Hutu mitilia group in the Eastern region, apparently employed Ntaganda as "deputy coordinator."

The United Nations says they were unaware of this association -- or that it never occurred to begin with. But if they didn't know about Ntaganda's close relationship with the Congolese government, they were the only ones in Congo. We reported it here on Passport back in February.

Official reports surfaced today indicating that Bosco Ntaganda, who the International Criminal Court has indicted for war crimes, was involved in a recent offensive carried out by the army in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The operation, supported by the United Nations and meant to route out a Hutu mitilia group in the Eastern region, apparently employed Ntaganda as “deputy coordinator.”

The United Nations says they were unaware of this association — or that it never occurred to begin with. But if they didn’t know about Ntaganda’s close relationship with the Congolese government, they were the only ones in Congo. We reported it here on Passport back in February.

Indeed, since Gen Ntaganda engineered a coup within the rebel movement of now-captive Laurent Nkunda, the Congolese government has rewarded him dearly for his fine work. Now, apparently, he has a new military title for ongoing operations. That all makes sense since the remaining rebel fighters (led by Ntaganda) were meant to be integrated into the Congolese army. 

So what’s the U.N.’s excuse for not knowing all this? Head of Mission Alan Doss says he was out of town, and indeed he was. Actually, he was interviewed here at FP just days before the alleged incident was said to take place. He told me that working with the national army was a priority for the U.N. Mission in Congo. “We have to make sure that the the army itself is out there,” Doss told me. “[Congo] cannot always depend on peacekeepers.”

To be fair, Doss has a pretty rough job these days. 100,000 civilians are at risk of attacks in the East of the country this week (and that’s just this week). And as FP‘s recent Prime Numbers highlighted, the peacekeeping mission in Congo has pretty much everything working against it.

Still, Ntaganda is no small fish. And this story is one the UN should have caught on to long ago. 

LIONEL HEALING/AFP/Getty Images

Elizabeth Dickinson is International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.

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