A lesson from the Srebrenica Massacres

A DUTCH court this week made a historical ruling when it held responsible Dutchbat, a battalion of peacekeepers from The Netherlands, for the killing of over 300 men and boys during the Srebrenica Massacres on July 13, 1995. 

A DUTCH court this week made a historical ruling when it held responsible Dutchbat, a battalion of peacekeepers from The Netherlands, for the killing of over 300 men and boys during the Srebrenica Massacres on July 13, 1995. 

The hearing, that has been dragging on in courts for more than a decade, held that the Dutch government should compensate families of victims because it forces “collaborated in the deportation” of people who had sought refuge with them.

The 300 are just a drop in the ocean of those who were massacred under the international community’s watch, but it is a significant victory nonetheless. 

Similarities of the UN peacekeepers behaviour had first appeared in Rwanda a year earlier in 1994, when UNAMID peacekeepers abandoned those they were supposed to protect during the Genocide against the Tutsi. 

Thousands of Rwandans were killed when UN peacekeepers withdraw from ETO Kicukiro compound on April 11, 1994, allowing the interahamwe militia and genocidal army to attack the refugees – with all sorts of weapons – in earnest.

This ruling sets an important precedence.

It is important that countries contributing to peacekeeping efforts are ready to honour their mandate. 

Peacekeeping is not a touristic outing, it comes with heavy responsibilities that should not be vested on the weak-hearted or those who turn out to be collaborators of oppressors, even going as far as sanitising the latter’s image. 

Unfortunately, the UN contingent in DR Congo does not seem to have learnt anything from the world body’s debacle in Bosnia; instead of applying its mandate fully, Monusco is collaborating with those it is supposed to fight against, even offering helicopter rides to leaders of militias such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), their principle target.  

What the UN needs is not Armoured Personnel Carriers and drones, but brooms to sweep its backyard.