The UN has a newly appointed Head of Peacekeeping Operations, appointed by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The current Head of Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, has declined to stay on and will be replaced by Jean-Pierre Lacroix, a french diplomat with a wealth of knowledge and experience regarding diplomacy and multilateral organizations.
Lacroix is currently the Director for the United Nations and International Organizations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, France. He previously served as the French ambassador to Sweden; and has also served as Chief of Protocol of France, Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations in New York, Deputy Director United Nations and International Organizations Division, and Deputy Chief of Mission, French Embassy in Prague. He is joining Guterres’s team to reform the world peace and security programs.
Lacroix will serve a one-year term starting in April 2017. His appointment is strategic for the UN in showcasing France’s involvement in the organization because the United States is considering cuts to the UN budget in 2017 and the following years. Guterres has also appointed a new Assistant Secretary-General of Peacekeeping Support and Under Secretary-General for field support in hopes of bringing about change to the institution.
Lacroix is taking this position amidst a scandal among UN peacekeepers. Recently, accusations of rape, by UN Peacekeeping employees stationed in the Central African Republic, are being brought to the attention of the United Nations and the world. Former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the sexual abuse by the UN peacekeepers is a “cancer in the system”, although he has seemingly turned a blind eye to the skyrocketing number of allegations in past years. The United Nations has reported a handful of these cases, but the number of victims seems to surpass UN records. This behavior is also consistent with accusations against peacekeeping officials in other parts of the world, including Haiti, Libya, Mali and Somalia. It is rumored that UN officials are nervous about losing their jobs, thus have less of an incentive to take action in regards to rape cases.
Richard Gowan, fellow at the European council for Foreign Affairs, says that “the next Secretary-General will need a plan, both to clean up peacekeeping and give it a greater sense of strategic purpose.” Guterres hopes that Lacroix will be able to bring a fresh perspective and his impressive experience to reform and restore integrity and credibility to United Nations Peacekeeping operations.