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Policing the Peacekeepers
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Policing the Peacekeepers; Eliminating Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by the United
EXPC-6005 Gender and Peace
December 11, 2012
In 1997 I was in the middle of a 25 year police career in a medium size U.S. police department.
An opportunity arose to serve with the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina; little
information was available about the work other than monitoring and training the police force of
the new nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I was 14 years into my career, infighting and small
scale corruption had dampened my enthusiasm and idealism for my department and the police
profession. Now, I had hoped, I would be serving with the best of the best police, not only from
the United States but from around the world. I was anxious to share my skills and enthusiasm
for police work and honored to serve with the United Nations. My initial assignment was training
Bosnian Police in democratic police principles in the use of force at the newly formed Vraca
Academy. I led a team of instructors from the USA, Netherlands, Portugal and Bosnia. The
success and reputation of our team reached the UN Headquarters and I was interviewed to be
the assistant to the Deputy Commissioner, Mark Kroeker. Despite having a lack of
administrative experience I was chosen to assist the Deputy Commissioner, overseeing 2400
International Police Task Force Officers, ensuring contract compliance of the various cantons,
meeting with foreign ambassadors, strategy planning with NATO officials, overs eeing training,
and quality control. Mark Kroeker had recently retired from Los Angeles Police Department as
Deputy Chief, recognized for a long distinguished career. He was raised by missionary parents
in Africa and had high ideals and aspirations for our role in the International Police Task Force,
amongst these the 3 S’s of Leadership-Serve, Support and Set an Example. I was proud to be
part of this team and worked hard and long hours to keep up with my workload. Few matters of
discipline crossed our desk, including a Moslem peacekeeper who had shoplifted a
pornographic magazine at a NATO military store, a western peacekeeper who had purchased a
Mercedes Benz (likely stolen) and was driving around Sarajevo with his hand made license
plate (intended to project immunity from traffic laws) and a group of peacekeepers who had
waited all day for their paycheck and when the UN finance officers decided to quit for the day
had “opened the door with their feet”, causing fear, dismay and an official complaint by the
finance officers. Overall, I had believed the conduct of the International Police Task Force was
very good and few cases were brought to our attention. There were rumors of Serb run brothels
in the country but no clue that UN Peacekeepers had been involved in the sexual exploitation
and abuse, including human trafficking of women and girls in the mission area. Later, I was to
learn that UN Peacekeepers had been involved in the trafficking of women and girls into the
mission area for prostitution, right under the noses of those of us at UN Headquarters. The
abuses against human rights committed by peacekeepers were a dark stain on the
accomplishments and hard work to creating a democratic police force in Bosnia and
The trafficking of women and girls came to the attention of the United Nations by IPTF mentor
Kathryn Bolkovac in 1999. UN Peacekeepers were not only customers of prostitutes but were
involved in the trafficking of humans and protection of organizations involved in the sex trade.
Her story is portrayed in the film, “The Whistle Blower” she was relieved of her duties and no
prosecutions were ever made. The International Organization for Migration reported 6000 to
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