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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 July 2007, 22:20 GMT 23:20 UK
UN requires 'better' peacekeepers
UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak
Nowak singled out Moroccan peacekeepers in Ivory Coast
A UN official has said soldiers from countries whose armies are suspected of torture and abuse should not be considered for peacekeeping operations.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, told Austria's Profil magazine that the UN's standards for selecting peacekeepers were too low.

Mr Nowak urged it to impose stricter standards and said it should consider forming a professional standing army.

His comments come amid a number of accusations of abuse against UN troops.

The UN has investigated such allegations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Cambodia and Ivory Coast over the past three years.

'Stricter standards' needed

In the interview with Profil, Mr Nowak said concerns about the quality, training and ethics of peacekeepers were growing as developing nations with questionable human rights records were being asked to contribute troops.

Mr Nowak said that peacekeepers from such nations might commit the same kind of crimes that they would at home.

The criteria are not very high
Manfred Nowak
UN Special Rapporteur on Torture

"The criteria are not very high," he said.

"The UN must impose stricter standards in recruiting soldiers."

Mr Nowak cited the case of Ivory Coast, where Moroccan peacekeepers have been accused of "widespread sexual exploitation and abuse".

A 730-member Moroccan army battalion was confined to its barracks in Bouake by UN investigators last week after the allegations began to surface.

Mr Nowak also said Nepalese troops, who he accused of "systemic" torture of Maoist rebels, should be barred from serving as peacekeepers.

"As long as the military in Nepal tortures, no troops should be consulted for peacekeeping missions," he said.

Mr Nowak said one solution was finally to give the UN its own professional standing army.

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