United Nations: UN Requests Accountability for Peacekeepers Accused of Sexual Abuse
Tuesday, August 17, 2010 4:15 PM

The United Nations is requesting that peacekeepers accused of sexual exploitation and abuse be held accountable in their home countries. While peacekeepers do work for the United Nations, they remain under the jurisdiction of the contributing country. When allegations of sexual abuse arise, the United Nations’ response may include demotion and termination of contract, but then they must refer the case to local authorities or national governments for further accountability measures.


Though current reports show that the number of sexual exploitation and abuse cases has decreased in recent years, allegations still persist. In addition, there have been other factors that indicate it may be a larger problem than what is currently documented. For instance, an anonymous U.N. official claims that the abuse is still “rampant.” Also, even though the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) has been dealing with issues of sexual abuse since the 1990s Balkans mission, a comprehensive record-keeping and data tracking system was not put in place until 2006. Finally, there are numerous peacekeeping missions located in remote areas, and it is difficult to monitor these areas for sexual abuse.


For all these reasons, the United Nations is trying to address this problem and requests the assistance of the contributing countries. “The U.N. cannot take this issue alone, “Anayansi Lopez of DPKO told the Inter-Press Service. “It needs the full support of all member states to ensure that zero tolerance is a reality.” In 2009, the U.N. sent 82 requests for information on actions taken by national authorities concerning sexual exploitation and abuse. The UN received 14 responses. In the first half of 2010, 18 of the 45 allegations of sexual abuse against peacekeepers concerned minors, according to the United Nations Conduct and Disciplinary Unit.


Even though the General Assembly adopted the 2007 Resolution on Criminal Accountability of United Nations Officials and Experts on Missions, which addresses the issue of national jurisdiction by member states and criminal misconduct, the majority of governments are not responding to the UN’s requests for further action.  


Compiled from:  Ilg, Genevieve Marie, Few Govts Answer U.N. Queries on Peacekeeper Scandals, IPS - Inter Press Service, (5 August 2010).