Most UN peacekeeping missions are mandated under Chapter VII. Many are mandated to undertake law enforcement operations unconnected to activity by parties to an armed conflict www.un.org/en/sc/inc/pages/pdf/mandate.xls. The presentation will draw on testimonies of ‘collateral damage’ survivors of law enforcement operations conducted by the UN’s first Chapter VII stabilization mission - the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti - to discuss issues this raises and implications for current and future missions.
MINUSTAH deployed from 2004-2017, a period in which there was no armed conflict in Haiti. UN reports state that on one occasion troops fired 22,700 bullets and on another 10,000, in a densely populated neighbourhood of Cité Soleil. Residents, and an MSF doctor, said that MINUSTAH fired from helicopters and that the UN never returned to investigate the number of casualties even though Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Guehenno, mission-head Valdés, and the US Embassy, all acknowledged that UN fire had resulted in unintended casualties.
The presentation will discuss the legal frameworks governing peacekeepers’ use of force outside of a ‘hostilities-in-armed-conflict’ context and the scope of permissible ‘collateral damage’; and UN responsibilities with regard to ensuring that those with ‘collateral damage’ injuries as a consequence of UN operations receive appropriate medical care.
Siobhán Wills is a professor of law at the Transitional Justice Institute, Ulster University.
She was awarded a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship 2015-2016 to research use of force by Chapter VII mandated peacekeepers operating in situations where there is no armed conflict. She was also awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council research grant 2016-2017 to make a documentary film, jointly with Prof McLaughlin (QUB), about the legacy impact of use of force by peacekeepers in Haiti during the period 2005-2007.
She is a member of the International Law Association Committee on the Use of Force and of the Royal Irish Academy Social Sciences Committee. Prior to her appointment at Ulster University she held the Ariel Sallows Visiting Chair in Human Rights at the University of Saskatchewan. She has also taught at University College Cork, where she was Co-Director of the Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights. She has been a visiting fellow at the Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, Oxford University; St John’s and Exeter Colleges, Oxford University; the School of Advanced Studies, University of London; a Fulbright Fellow; a Hauser Global Fellow at NYU; and a Fellow on the Harvard Human Rights Program.
She has published widely on international humanitarian law issues, peacekeeping, and protection of civilians. She obtained her LLB from the National University of Ireland Galway in 2000, her LLM from Yale in 2001, and her DPhil from Oxford in 2007.