Policing the Peacekeepers
10,000 women and girls were coerced into prostitution in Bosnia. Most were promised waitress
or nanny jobs and some kidnapped such as a 13 year old Romanian girl who was walking to
school. Two thirds of these females had never worked in the sex trade before.
Unfortunately this was not the first and not the last of United Nations misconduct and crimes.
Gerald Kaplan in his report, “Peacekeepers Gone Wild: How Much More Abuse will the UN
Ignore in the Congo (2012) that UN abuse of women and children are all too common.
Documented cases of girls being victimized by UN forces – or, more precisely, the
troops from the many countries who serve in UN missions – have a long and squalid
history. The landmark 1996 UNICEF study The Impact of Armed Conflict on Children
reported that “In 6 out of 12 country studies, the arrival of peacekeeping troops has been
associated with a rapid rise in child prostitution.” A review eight years later concluded
that prostitution and sexual abuse followed most UN interventions. “Even the guardians
have to be guarded,” it concluded.
The search for an effective response.
Is the current United Nations response to peacekeeper human rights violations sufficient? The
United Nations has a three-pronged strategy to eliminate sexual exploitation and abuse:
prevention of misconduct, enforcement of UN standards of conduct and remedial action. Is this
strategy working? Is this strategy sufficient to protect the most vulnerable populations the UN is
pledged to protect? Will training, education and the threat of zero tolerance overcome a
patriarchal military system and view that women are part of the spoils of war, “boys will be
boys”? Nothing short of the empowerment of women and children including accessibility to
justice by vulnerable persons, economic relief and increasing female representation in UN
Military, Police and Civilian forces will effectively combat these human rights violations and give
credibility to the United Nations.
Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, as defined by the United Nations:
The United Nations defines sexual exploitation as any actual or attempted abuse of a position of
vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to,
profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another. Sexual abuse
is defined as the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or
under unequal or coercive conditions.
The Scope of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in UN Missions:
United Nations Peacekeeper sexual exploitation and abuse was not limited to the United
Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 2004 more than 150 allegations of sexual
misconduct by UN Peacekeepers were brought forth including rape, prostitution and pedophilia.
Pakistan, Uruguay, Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa and Nepal were implicated. Witnesses
reportedly were threatened by peacekeepers to prevent them from coming forward with reports.