UNITED NATIONS. CHARLES PETRIE RESIGNS TO PURSUE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR RWANDA MASSACRE SUSPECT

 

15 NOVEMBER 2010

PETRIE RESIGNS TO PURSUE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR RWANDA MASSACRE SUSPECT

Charles Petrie, Executive Representative of the Secretary General in Burundi, who has submitted his resignation to the Secretary General, was U.N. Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator in Rwanda from May 1994 to January 1995. He witnessed first-hand the unfolding horrors. Since then, he has been trying from within the system to get senior U.N. officials to confront the shortcomings in pursuing justice.

When we raised again in the last issue of unforum.com, the case of massacre suspect, Callixte Mbarushimana, who was found jobs within U.N. Peacekeeping, we similarly recognized that there were other colleagues, like Charles Petrie, who continued to pursue the case. He had worked for the U.N. in Africa, the Middle East, Southwest Asia, and Headquarters, with competence and dedication -- handling extremely challenging tasks. In his recent political work in Burundi, and to a degree in Somalia, he had full support of Under Secretary General for Political Affairs, Lynn Pascoe. A suggestion to have him take a "special leave without pay" deemed not to be an option.

Having taken the "mental step" to resign, one of the issues he considers critical to follow is precisely the case of the Rwanda suspect accused of participating in the murder of 33 people, including his own U.N. colleagues. After the recent arrest of the suspect upon the request of the International Court, Charles Petrie indicated that he will initially undertake an organizational review of the institutional reasons for the U.N.'s failure to act, and to help identify corrective measures that would allow the Organization to address existing internal contradictions in order to avert a repetition of injustice.

Leaving the U.N. after twenty years of dedicated service must have been a very hard decision to make. Yet in pursuing the case of Callixte Mbarushimana, Charles Petrie is most likely motivated by a deep commitment to the basic principles of truth, justice, and human decency. These also happen to be an integral part of U.N. principles.