Friday, July 31, 2020

Disturbing the Peace: UN Peacekeepers and Sexual Abuse

Disturbing the Peace: UN Peacekeepers and Sexual Abuse

Part 1: Encouragement and Cover-ups

By Devon Bowers

Author’s Note: This article and series focuses on sexual abuse and assault, with some graphic descriptions of such acts. Reader discretion is advised.

The United Nations is an organization in which the main goal is to “maintain international peace and security” and “to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace”[1] as a means to those ends. However, what has cropped up time and again, most recently with a 2019 New York Times article[2] focusing on UN peacekeepers in Haiti, is sexual abuse. It’s something that has not just plagued the organization for decades, but has utterly shattered, destroyed the lives of poor women around the world where they lay forgotten, often not seeing justice meted out to the ones who harmed them.

This problem, along with analyzing past and present plans to fight against this scourge, should be examined along with possible solutions. The purpose is not to ‘bash the UN’ in particular, but rather to study the systemic problems within UN peacekeeping and how it can be fixed or at least put on such a path.


In 1991, the UN formed the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) with the goal of “[taking] control of [Cambodia’ government] and [setting] up and run national elections” and to “help bring about a ceasefire between the various warring factions, disarm their forces and repatriate thousands of refugees languishing in camps on the Thai border.”[3] The mission seemed simple and yet problems occurred.

During this time period, there was a large resurgence of prostitution in Cambodia that was fueled by the economy but also the appearance of UN peacekeepers, which greatly increased the numbers from 10,000 in 1990 to 20,000 in 1993 when the UN exited the country.[4]

There were also allegations of sexual abuse by peacekeepers. Raoul M. Jennar, then-director of the European Far Eastern Research Center in Belgium, reported that “in the Preah Vihear hospital, there was for a time a majority of injured people who were young kids, the victims of sexual abuse by UN soldiers.” The situation was never handled, though women did come forth with rape and sexual abuse allegations, they were often days or weeks after the fact and so fact-finding and gathering evidence was a struggle.[5]

Besides the time lapse, such activity was openly supported by the chief of UNTAC, Yasushi Akashi, who argued that the peacekeepers “have a right to drink, enjoy themselves, and chase ‘young, beautiful beings of the opposite sex.’” This was in direct opposition to over 100 Cambodians and Westerners who alleged that sexual harassment of women occurred with disturbing frequency in any and all settings.[6]

It was this lax, uncaring, and cold attitude towards prostitution and sexual abuse that would set the tone for the UN’s peacekeeping missions.


In 1992, the United Nations established a peacekeeping force as to “provide security for the flows of humanitarian aid that were flowing into Bosnia from the international community.”[7] Approximately 40,000 UN personnel from a variety of nations were sent to aid in this goal.

Again, sexual abuse reared its ugly head. The Washington Post reported in 1993 that some UN peacekeepers, in visiting a Serb-run brothel, “took sexual advantage of Muslim and Croat women forced into prostitution, according to Muslim witnesses and the local Serb commander.” [8] The spokesman for UN forces in Sarajevo, LTC Bill Aikman, argued that such talk was nothing but “disinformation,” further stating that he didn’t “think U.N. troops could have done that.”

However, this was in direct conflict with eyewitnesses who, when being interviewed by Newsday, stated that in the summer and fall of 1992, they say on numerous occasions “saw young Muslim or Croat women being forced into U.N. armored personnel carriers or civilian cars that followed the U.N. vehicles to an unknown destination.”[9] Apparently the situation was never formally investigated by the UN, with an informal inquiry being dismissed “because ‘there was no grounds for pursuing it.”[10] Such logic is rather strange, deciding that there should be no further investigation because there isn’t any ‘real basis’ to do so, despite there not having been any formal inquiries into the matter.

Some years later, the US House of Representatives launched a formal investigation into the entire situation of prostitution and sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers and the full extent of the corruption of the UN was revealed.

The UN’s International Police Task Force was regularly involved at such aforementioned brothels. A raid of three nightclubs was done in November 2000, which found a total of six IPTF monitors in the clubs and it was revealed, according to verbatim statements from five of the women rescued from these brothels that IPTF monitors had been among the clients of these captured women.[11] When discussing the matter, UN officials contradicted themselves by denying allegations that their forces were involved in sex trafficking but “admitted that members of the force were found to have been involved in the use of young girls' services and that sometimes the children were unwilling participants.”[12]

The situation worsened due the fact that there was an active cover-up by the UN of such activities by the IPTF.

David Lamb, a human rights investigator for the UN, tore back of the curtain on the UN’s operations in Bosnia, directly linking it to sexual abuse. He even went so far as to say that:

U.N. peacekeepers' participation in the sex slave trade in Bosnia is a significant, widespread problem, resulting from a combination of factors associated with the U.N. peacekeeping operation and conditions in general in the Balkans. More precisely, the sex slave trade in Bosnia largely exists because of the U.N. peacekeeping operation. Without the peacekeeping presence, there would have been little or no forced prostitution in Bosnia. [13](emphasis added)

The Bosnian prostitution industry was organized in such a manner that there was no difference between victims of sex trafficking or women who had been forced into prostitution, creating a situation where anyone who engaged with prostitutes aided the sex slave trade.

The United Nations, on an organizational level, was completely complicit in the sex slave trade, with Lamb noting that he and others “experienced an astonishing cover-up attempt that seemed to extend to the highest levels of the U.N. headquarters.” Investigators would not only be rebuffed by those they were investigating, but the UN would launch “formal investigations against the investigators while giving no support to the original investigation, a scenario which was not new to the U.N. Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”[14] (emphasis added) So rather than punish the people who were committing crimes, the UN found it easier to harass and intimidate the investigators.

Lamb’s testimony bolstered previous claims. In December 2001, it was reported that the UN “quashed an investigation earlier this year into whether U.N. police were directly involved in the enslavement of Eastern European women in Bosnian brothels, according to U.N. officials and internal documents.”[15] During this time, Lamb noted that “his preliminary inquiry found more than enough evidence to justify a full-scale criminal investigation,” however it was killed by higher-ups. The UN even argued that there wasn’t enough evidence to point to systemic police involvement, in spite of the previous November 2000 raid.

Such activities weren’t just occurring on Bosnia, but also in neighboring Kosovo. Amnesty International reported within months of UN soldiers arriving in 1999 to aid in the aftermath of the Bosnia-Kosovo war, brothels sprung up and Kosovo “soon became a major destination country for women trafficked into forced prostitution.”[16] The situation persisted over a decade later, with UN forces being blamed for the growth of the sex slave industry in which many under-age girls were viciously tortured, raped, and abused.[17]

The biggest hurdle towards obtaining justice for the women and children who had been abused was that issue of legal immunity. Foreigners that were part of the UN mission, whether as a military/police force or a civilians, had near-absolute legal immunity. Specifically, Article 6 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the U.N.” provides immunity from personal arrest or detention and from seizure of personal baggage, and in respect to words spoken or written and acts done by them in the course of the performance of their mission, immunity from legal process of every kind.”[18] Thus, the perpetrators of so much horror were never able to be brought to justice.

This only compounded the situation for the victims as not only was there a cover up by the UN, but the legal immunity created a situation in which they would never get to take their abusers to court.


Due to an ongoing civil war, which displaced over six million Mozambicans, the UN was called in an attempt to create a situation where both sides, the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique as the legitimate government and the rebels known as the Mozambican National Resistance, could come to talks.[19]

Similar to Cambodia and Bosnia, the very presence of the peacekeepers was argued to have led to an increase in prostitution and while there were investigations which resulted in some soldiers being expelled from the country, not a single one of them was actually prosecuted.[20]

These arguments were later confirmed when then-UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali had a formal inquiry conducted into peacekeepers involvement in child prostitution which found that “after the signing of the peace treaty in 1992, soldiers of the United Nations operation in Mozambique recruited girls aged 12 to 18 years into prostitution”[21] as well as the linkage between the arrival of peacekeepers and growth in child prostitution.

The year UN forces left, 1994, it came out that Italian soldiers were engaging in sexual misconduct with child prostitutes, as young as twelve to fourteen years old.[22] This incident was simply the one which was put on blast. International NGO Save The Children conducted an investigation into the matter of Italian soldiers being involved in sexual abuse.

The report explained that suspicions were raised and questions asked when the Italian soldiers engaged in commercial sex, but the matter became even more serious “when the soldiers started to make a clear request for sex with minors and recruited street children for all kind of services: domestic work (at a marginal fee), shopping, procuring illegal goods for trade and as mediators (pimps) for commercial sex,”[23] with the situation evolving to the point where the Italians had one of their liaison officers act as a mediator between the soldiers and the pimps/girls.

It goes on to note the disposition of soldiers, prices paid, and punishments for speaking out, which should be quoted at some length.

Most girls in the trade were aged between 13 and 18 years. Private conversations with the soldiers indicated that this was because of `more fun and excitement' and due to the fear of AIDS. Rates for sex differed. Generally, the price was 1.00 US Dollar for sex with a condom and $ 1.10 without. Some soldiers started a liaison with girls, and arranged a flat, room or other venue for them for regular encounters. […] The military doctor of the Italian Contingent Albatroz who served in Chimoio from October 1993 till early 1994, got reprimanded by the (Italian) Regional ONUMOZ Commander Mazzaroli when he reported in writing on the developments. In fact, the doctor was to serve till May 1994 in Chimoio and it is believed that he was repatriated to Italy at an earlier stage due to his critical attitude.[24] (emphasis added)

By late 1993, the Italians became so comfortable and lax that the local staff of NGO Redd Barna, a youth-oriented aid organization based out of the UK, noticed them having sex with minors in uniform, in and on UN vehicles in the city of Chimoio, with houses even being rented for parties and sex.[25]

In response to this, on September 24, 1993 the head of the Mozambique branch of Redd Barna contacted the head of the main organization to discuss the situation. After visiting Chimoio to get first-hand knowledge of the activities of Italian soldiers, the Secretary-General of Redd Barna joined forces with elements of the International Save the Children Alliance resulting in, most importantly, a letter being written to head of UN forces in Mozambique regarding the situation.

This letter was released by the Children Alliance in December 1993, which the very next month, January 1994, was quoted in an independent Mozambique newspaper, specifically that the letter had been faxed from a high official in the headquarters UN Mozambique to the newspaper. The anonymous official even told Redd Barna that this was done because senior UN staff were “making all possible attempts” to hide and cover up the incidents.

This article was subsequently picked up by various outlets including Associated Press, CNN, NBC, and Reuters. In the immediate aftermath, Italian soldiers were confined to their respective bases. On January 26, 1994, the UN Mozambique contingency issued a statement in which they said, in part, that because “no concrete evidence or information was supplied by the initiators of this accusation, it has not been possible to complete the investigation.”[26]

It should be noted here that the language used is far from neutral, by referring to Redd Barna as “initiators of this accusation” it creates a tone where the NGO is seen as spreading rumors and hearsay. It also leads to the question of how they can’t complete an investigation unless concrete evidence has been supplied. One would think that their investigators, given the serious nature of the situation, would actively be looking for such evidence.

An investigative commission was formed by UN Mozambique and actively utilized Redd Barna to aid in its investigation. This, coupled with them having been the main source, along with the Save the Children Alliance, of the situation going public, painted a target on the organization’s back.  This resulted in Italian soldiers intimidating Redd Barna workers, threatening phone calls, telephone lines and the radio network being tapped when transferring fax messages, and feeding disinformation to journalists.

There was a reveal of a civilian-military divide in that on the week of February 18, 1994, the departing UN commander, Lélio Gonçalves, gave interviews where  he actively denied that UN peacekeepers were engaging in “sexual abuse of minors and sneered about [the International Save The Children Alliance’s] and Redd Barna's concern.” It should be noted that such statements were made “while his superior, [the special representative of the UN Secretary-General, Mr A.Ajello], had already confirmed the involvement of [UN] personnel.”[27] In addition, more and more UN staff approached the organization to provide information, yet were often despised and harassed by colleagues and superiors.

Still, after all of that, nothing was done. The actors just moved deeper into the darkness. After the publication of the investigative report, the Italian soldiers simply continued to engage in their sick practices in more hidden and remote locations and senior officers would intimate girls, forcing them to sign statements saying that the Italians weren’t engaging in any wrongdoing.[28]

Somalia and Haiti

The UN mission in Somalia, only lasting from 1992 to 1995, revealed that even when soldiers were caught in the wrong, their respective nation’s militaries wouldn’t mete out full justice.

Belgian peacekeepers accused of torturing Somali children, Italians, of raping Somali women. The Italian situation was so bad that two generals resigned as evidence of torture mounted and a day after photo evidence of an Italian soldier raping a Somali woman were published.[29]

In 1993, a Belgian paratrooper “allegedly procured a teenage Somali girl as a birthday present to a paratrooper. She was reportedly forced to perform a strip show at a birthday party and to have sexual relations with two Belgian paratroopers.”[30] A military court in 1998 sentenced that paratrooper to one year imprisonment (six months were suspended), a fine, and discharged them from the army. Meanwhile, even though the Italian government conducted a commission which “found credible evidence of a number of instances of gang-rape, sexual assault, and theft with violence,”[31] nothing was done to actually punish those troops.

In Haiti, months after international forces arrived in 1994, a number of women’s organizations petitioned the Justice Ministry to investigate the foreign soldiers as it was public information that “several cases of abuse of women and girls by soldiers in several towns throughout the country” had taken place. A former UN staff member even confided that observers had told their superiors in 1995 in Port-au-Prince of “allegations of sexual abuse committed by French and [Caribbean] UN ‘peacekeepers,’ only to be promptly ordered to desist from exploring the claims any further.”[32]

So on one instance we see just what happens when military personnel are subjected to their justice system, in which a slap on the wrist of sorts occurs and on the other we see still the UN covering up and stonewalling investigations into abuse.

East Timor

In 1999, international forces were deployed to East Timor to oversee its transition to becoming a fully independent country and to deal with the Indonesian intervention which consisted of backing guerrilla groups.[33]

Three years into the mission, it was reported at least two soldiers from Jordan had been accused of sexually assaulting an unknown number of boys. When asked if any investigations regarding these allegations had been conducted, the senior UN military observer, LTC Paul Roney, stated that he was unable to answer the question.[34]

The Jordanian peacekeepers were a major problem as “[interviews] by UN investigators [made claims of] Jordanian involvement in several alleged rapes of boys and women.”[35] This was known by the UN administration in East Timor itself, with the administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello, doing his best to keep the matter quiet.

An incident paralleling Bosnia took place in 2003. A UN police force raided an illegal brothel and found 23 Thai women who had been trafficked into the country, some even being underage, along with six UN police officers. The UN made the incredibly weak argument that the officers were just getting massages and didn’t know it was an illegal brothel.

Specifically, the UN’s Acting Deputy Operations Commissioner, Alan King, stated that the officers came “from a country where massage is quite a legitimate business and in many cases here in East Timor massage parlors exist and they are quite legitimate” and there was no indication “that they went there for anything other than a legitimate purpose.”[36]

Just like so many of the other cases, not a single person faced justice. Daily Australian outlet The Age reported in 2006 that “Sukehiro Hasegawa, the top UN official in East Timor, has acknowledged for the first time that the UN system failed to bring anyone to justice for crimes that included sex abuse of children and bestiality.”[37] Hasegawa announced that a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards sexual abuse by any and all UN forces would be put into motion immediately.

The abuse of women in East Timor had long lasting impacts. There were approximately 20 cases of children who had been fathered by peacekeepers, however, no national record exists to get a better grasp of the situation.[38] Soldiers had made promises to marry the women, but would simply return to their home countries. The women and children were left behind to deal with being shunned by their community.

In 2003, the UN put out a bulletin putting the entire entity on notice that sexual abuse would not be tolerated, including that exchanging money for sexual favors “or other forms of humiliating, degrading or exploitative behavior, is prohibited.”[39] It established that the head of the mission in question would be responsible for fostering an environment in which such activities would be discouraged and prevented, ensuring each staff member would receive a copy of the bulletin to ensure that there is no excuse of someone not knowing the rules, and that a system would be established to report on sexual abuse cases. Still, this would have no serious effect on sexual abuse.

Sierra Leone

To deal with rebel elements in Sierra Leone and aid in the creation of a unity government comprised of the rebels and legitimate government, forces were sent to the country in 1999.[40]

The entire situation amounted to a horror show for the women of Sierra Leone. The Telegraph made known a report from Human Rights Watch.


But it found evidence of sexual atrocities being committed by troops from the regional intervention force, Ecomog, and the UN peacekeeping mission.


Women were used by all sides as chattels, kidnapped from their homes often in rural areas and forced to act as sex slaves for the troops as well as domestic maids responsible for cooking and household chores.


"To date there has been no accountability for the thousands of crimes of sexual violence or other appalling human rights abuses committed during the war in Sierra Leone," the report said.[41]

There was no reprieve for women here, the very people that were supposed to protected them were also the ones raping and abusing them

That same report revealed a number of crimes done by international forces. In April 2002, “witnesses saw a woman apparently being raped by two Ukrainian peacekeepers near the eastern town of Joru. There was no formal investigation into the matter.” (emphasis added) [42] In June, an officer from Bangladesh was accused of sexually assaulting a 14 year old boy, but a formal investigation found results to be inconclusive and the officer was soon sent back to his home country.

During March 2002, UN spokesperson Margaret A. Novicki, stated that the mission in Sierra Leone was going about conducting an ongoing training program for military personnel which focused on women’s rights and the zero tolerance policy for sexual exploitation and abuse and that the military command was visiting sector and contingent commanders to emphasize the need to police soldiers’ conduct.[43] The previous month, however, the a probe from the UN Human Right Council and the UK arm of the organization Save The Children revealed just how much the conduct of peacekeeping forces had deteriorated.

The joint investigation found a major disconnect between what was being said and what was going on the ground. A UN officer stated that “Every soldier, officer has been read and shown the code of conduct; no one can plead ignorance.”[44] Thus, while knowing the code of conduct, peacekeepers still engaged in abuse by exchanging money and food with children for sexual services, paying between $5 and $300 USD. Witnesses “spoke of teenage girls being asked to strip naked, bath and pose in certain positions while the peacekeepers took pictures, watched and laughed. Some are alleged to have had sex with the girls without using condoms.”[45]

There were several incidents of peacekeepers going to extremes in that they would meet with the child’s parents, feigning good intentions, but would leave abruptly, give the parents money to take care of the girl, or even shower the girl with gifts. The victims, on all levels, were the girls. While they were being abused by the peacekeepers, the community would respond by parading and publically shaming the girls in town.[46]

There was a separate inquiry conducted by the UN in late 2002 where it came to light that “there was no encouragement for staff or other persons to report ethical issues to management, nor for that matter is there a particular office or person with whom this type of problem can be discussed,”[47] but there were slight improvements such as the formation of a Personal Conduct Committee to examine cases of misconduct for UN workers, both military and civilian. Yet, it was known that sexual abuse cases were underreported. The Office of Internal Oversight Services found a single allegation of such abuse, but with over 17,000 soldiers, it shows that there are serious deficiencies with the reporting system rather than a lack of cases.[48]

A Human Rights Watch report documented several cases of rape by peacekeeping troops.

A Sergeant Ballah, from Guinea, was alleged to have engaged in the rape of a twelve year old girl according to the Sierra Leone police. The victim was raped in March 2001 “when she asked for Sgt. Ballah’s assistance in securing a ride to Freetown at the checkpoint that he was manning”[49] and even though Ballah went to court, he was simply sent back to Guinea. In a separate case, a Bangladeshi peacekeeper allegedly raped a fourteen year old boy (the rape had ben medically confirmed) and the police began to conduct an investigation, “until the UNAMSIL provost marshal took it over. The provost marshal concluded that there was no conclusive evidence to link the crime to the perpetrator.”[50] The inquiry was conducted haphazardly, with members of the Bangladeshi contingent speaking with the victim, despite the fact that they shouldn’t have been able to, nor did the UN mission even issue the victim or his family an apology, much less provide compensation or note the outcome of the investigation.

This lines up with the summary that there was “reluctance on the part of UNAMSIL to investigate and take disciplinary measures against the perpetrators.”[51] Despite setting up a code of conduct and reinforcing a zero tolerance policy, we see that such acts were half-hearted measures given incorrect investigation methods and flat out interference in cases.

The UN even noted that charges against its own personnel and humanitarian workers working at UN camps, such as forcing women and children to provide sexual favors for food, medicine, and relief supplies, were investigated by the Office of Internal Oversight Services but dropped on the grounds that there wasn’t enough evidence.[52] It seems that the OIOS acts as many internal investigatory groups: covering up incidents and protecting criminals.


Peacekeepers were sent to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to aid in the implementation of a ceasefire between several warring factions starting in 1999.[53]

In mid-2002, Human Rights Watch published the report The War within the War: Sexual Violence against Women and Girls in Eastern Congo, where several acts of sexual assault were recorded. One such incident occurred in December 2001, when a Congolese woman dropped off an eleven year old girl to a Moroccan soldier, who proceeded to sexually assault the girl, but was kept at his post.[54] Though the zero tolerance policy had been in effect and there was an increase in gender awareness training and even a gender advisor, the mission still lacked any training strictly revolving around the sexual violence.

During July 2004 the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services began to investigate a number of accusations, ranging from a child prostitution ring being ran out of a UN airport to Nepalese soldiers raping minors and even allegations of a Tunisian officer soliciting sex from minors.[55] Most of the allegations revolved around the town of Bunia.

The UN seems to have ignored the situation until it reached a critical mass as The Independent obtained documents which showed that in August 2003, the child-protection office sent a memo to the UN’s Congo headquarters “detailing their fears about the allegations of sexual exploitation by [UN] forces. No action was taken.” Children were put at risk as despite allegations of Moroccan troops engaging in “child pornography, organized sex shows and the rape of babies,” they were still sent to Bunia where in 2004 it was found that “19 out of 50 cases of sexual violence against minors in Bunia were carried out by [Moroccan] troops.”[56] By transferring the Moroccan’s despite such extreme allegations, it could be argued that the UN on some level played a role in these sexual violence cases having occurred.

Horrors against the most vulnerable of Congolese society continued unabated. The New York Times reported in December 2004 on a 12-year-old girl, Helen, and a 13-year-old girl, Solange, both of whom were raped by UN peacekeepers who lured the girls in using food.[57]

In January 2005, the UN conducted an investigation into the matter, finding that “Congolese women and girls confirmed that sexual contact with peacekeepers occurred with regularity, usually in exchange for food or small sums of money.”[58] Unfortunately, the vast majority of allegations were unable to be substantiated. The Office of Internal Oversight Services complied a total of 20 cases and was able to corroborate only seven cases, as in remaining cases the victims and witnesses weren’t able to positively identify perpetrators.

Shockingly, while this investigation was going on, peacekeepers were still engaging in sexual acts, “evidenced by the presence of freshly used condoms near military camps and guard posts and by the additional allegations of recent cases of solicitations brought to the attention of the OIOS team during the last days of the investigation.”[59]

Out of the report came several recommendations, among them were: to create and implement a prevention program, “establish a rapid-response detection program, utilizing personnel experienced in such cases,” ensuring that UN administrators and officers can demonstrate that current rules and regulations aimed at preventing sexual abuse/exploitation are being enforced, and creating a program to “provide regular briefings for troops on their responsibilities to the local population and on prohibited behaviors”[60] so that everyone, from peacekeepers on up, would be on the same page.

Due to this report, a sexual abuse focal-point element was created for all UN agencies in the Congo, a website was established to educate staff on exactly what constituted sexual abuse/exploitation, and a strict curfew was put in place. In March 2005, the UN Security Council issued a resolution focusing on the Congo, which in part they asked the Secretary General to ensure compliance to the zero tolerance policy on sexual abuse, that perpetrators be investigated and punished.[61]

The UN began looking into the alleged child prostitution ring in August 2006. While many of the patrons were Congolese soldiers, early testimonies from victims revealed that ring leaders became interested in the presence of UN forces and the money they had as a catalyst for creating the ring.[62]

There were further child prostitution ring allegations surround a contingency from India two years later, but the soldiers were found innocent by Indian courts.[63] In another instance of abuse by Indian soldiers, there were allegations that they had fathered nearly 12 children after DNA tests were conducted and showed the children having distinct Indian features. While one soldiers was punished as it was found that his DNA sample matched with one of the children born, others only had administrative action recommended and others still were given a clean slate.[64]

Despite sexual abuse allegations having been on the decline[65], the situation seemed to continue to deteriorate as The Globe and Mail reported that in February 2011, two teenaged orphans were attacked with two Congolese soldiers beating one of the girls, while the other was gang raped and impregnated.[66] The UN soldiers were still out in the field even after the incident.[67]

Overall, there was a complete lack of punishment for soldiers that engaged in abuse and exploitation. The Independent reported in 2007 that nearly 200 peacekeepers had been disciplined in sexual abuse cases since 2004, but not a single one had been prosecuted. In fact, of the 319 people that had been investigated in the 2004-2007 time frame for sexual misconduct, 180 had been either dismissed or sent back to their home countries.[68]

Just for the missions launched in the 1990s, there were cover ups, lies, and even an outright acceptance of blue helmets engaging in abuse. Unfortunately, for the missions that started up in the 2000s, the women and girls of a myriad of nations would be subject to abuse, no more so than in Haiti. 


[1] United Nations, Chapter 1: Purposes and Principles,

[2] Elian Peltier, “U.N. Peacekeepers in Haiti Said to Have Fathered Hundreds of Children,” New York Times, December 18, 2019 (

[3] Kevin Ponniah, “In 1993, the UN tried to bring democracy to Cambodia. Is that dream dead?,” BBC News, July 28, 2018 (

[4] Donna M. Hughes, “Welcome to the Rape Camp: Sexual Exploitation and the Internet in Cambodia,” Journal of Sexual Aggression 6 (Winter 2000), pg 4

[5] Sandra Whitworth, “Gender, Race and the Politics of Peacekeeping,” in Edward Moxon-Browne, editor, A Future in Peacekeeping? (New York, New York: Saint Martin’s Press, 1998), pg 179

[6] Anne Orford, “The Politics of Collective Security,” Michigan Journal of International Law 17:2 (1996), pgs 378-379

[7] Globalization 101, Peacekeeping in Bosnia,

[8] Roy Gutman, “U.N. Forces Accused of Using Serb-run Brothel,” Washington Post, November 2, 1993 (

[9] Ibid

[10] Susan Dewey, Hollow Bodies: Institutional Responses to Sex Trafficking in Armenia, Bosnia, and India (West Harford, CT: Kumarian Press, 2008), pg 101

[11] U.S. Congress, House, Committee on International Relations, Subcommittee on International Relations and Human Rights, The U.N. and the Sex Slave Trade in Bosnia: Isolated Case or Larger Problem in UN System (Washington D.C.: Subcommittee on International Relations and Human Rights, House Committee On International Relations, 2002) (, pg 47

[12] Ibid, pg 8

[13] Ibid, pg 66

[14] Ibid, pg 68

[15] Colum Lynch, “U.N. Halted Probe of Officers' Alleged Role in Sex Trafficking,” Washington Post, December 27, 2001 (

[16] Amnesty International, Kosovo (Serbia & Montenegro) “So does that mean I have rights? (May 6, 2004), pg 7

[17] Ian Traynor, “Westerner troops fuelling Kosovo sex trade,” Irish Times, May 7, 2004 (

[18]Human Rights Watch, Hope Betrayed: Trafficking of Women and Girls to Post-Conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina for Forced Prostitution, (November 26, 2002), pg 46

[19] William Gehrke, “The Mozambique Crisis: A Case for United Nations Military Intervention,” Cornell International Law Journal 24:1 (1991), pg 135

[20] A.B., Fetherson, UN Peacekeepers and Cultures of Violence, Cultural Survival Quarterly Magazine, (May 1995)

[21] United Nations, General Assembly, Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Children, A/51/306, August 26, 1996 (, pg 31

[22] Stanley Meisler, “Prostitution Report Accuses U.N. Troops in Mozambique,” Los Angeles Times, February 26, 1994 (

[23] Ernst Schade, Report On Experiences With Regards to the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces in Mozambique, November 20, 1995, pg 13

[24] Ibid

[25] Ibid, pg 14

[26] Ibid, pg 17

[27] Ibid, pg 20

[28] Ibid, pg 21

[29] Raf Casert, “In Italy, Belgium and Italy, Somalia peacekeeping scandals growing,” Associated Press, June 24, 1997 (

[30] Ingrid Westendorp, M. W. Wolleswinkel, Ria Wolleswinkel, eds., Violence In The Domestic Sphere (Holmes Beach, FL: Gaunt Inc), 2005, pg 15

[31] Ibid

[32] Ibid

[33] Government of Canada, International Force in East Timor (INTERFET),

[34] Ginny Stein, "Allegations against Jordanian peacekeepers," Australian Broadcasting Company, (June 25, 2001)

[35] Mark Dodd, “Hushed Rape of Timor,” The Weekend Australian, March 26, 2005 (,5744,12655192%5E2703,00.html)

[36] Nick McKenzie, "Claim UN officers customers in East Timor sex slave brothels," Australian Broadcasting Company, (July 9, 2003)

[37] Lindsay Murdoch, “UN acts to stamp out sex abuse by staff in East Timor,” The Age, August 30, 2006 (

[38] Sofi Ospina, A Review and Evaluation of Gender-Related Activities of UN Peacekeeping Operations and their Impact on Gender Relations in Timor Leste, PeaceWomen, (July 11, 2006), pg 44

[39] United Nations, Secretary-General’s Bulletin, Special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, ST/SGB/2003/13, October 9, 2003 (, pg 2

[40] World Peace Foundation, United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone Brief,

[41] Tim Butcher, “UN troops accused of 'systematic' rape in Sierra Leone,” The Telegraph, January 17, 2003 (

[42] Human Rights Watch, World Report 2003,, pg 70

[43] Global Policy Forum, UN Takes Action Against Peacekeepers’ Misconduct, (March 18, 2002)

[44] United Nations Human Rights Council, Save The Children-United Kingdom, Sexual Violence & Exploitation: The Experience of Refugee Children in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, (February 2002), pg 6

[45] Ibid

[46] Ibid, pg 7

[47] United Nations, General Assembly, Investigation into sexual exploitation of refugees by aid workers in West Africa, A/57/465, October 11, 2002 (, pg 16

[48] Ibid

[49] Human Rights Watch, We’ll Kill You If You Cry: Sexual Violence in the Sierra Leone Conflict, (January 2003), pg 48

[50] Ibid, pg 49

[51] Ibid, pg 4

[52] Michael Fleshman, Tough UN Line on Peacekeeper Abuses, United Nations, (April 2005)

[53] United Nations, United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,

[54] Human Rights Watch, The War within the War: Sexual Violence against Women and Girls in Eastern Congo, (June 2002), pg 95

[55] Children & Armed Conflict: Impact, Protection, and Rehabilitation Research Project, Abuse by UN Troops In D.R.C. May Go Unpunished, Report Says, (July 12, 2004)

[56] Kate Holt, Sarah Hughes, “Will Congo's women ever have justice?” The Independent, July 12, 2004 (

[57] Marc Lacey, In Congo War, Even Peacekeepers Add to Horror,” New York Times, December 18, 2004 (

[58] United Nations, General Assembly, Investigation by the Office of Internal Oversight Services into allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, A/59/661, January 5, 2005 (, pg 1

[59] Ibid, pg 11

[60] Ibid, pgs 12-13

[61] Susan A. Notar, “Peacekeepers as Perpetrators: Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Women and Children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” Journal of Gender, Social Policy, and the Law 14:2 (2006), pg 420

[62] United Nations News, UN investigates allegations of child prostitution involving peacekeepers in DR Congo, (August 17, 2006)

[63] Kwame Akonor, UN Peacekeeping in Africa: A Critical Examination and Recommendations for Improvements (New York, NY: Springer, 2017), pg 39

[64] Gautam Datt, “Indian army's shame: Indictment of 4 Indian peacekeepers for 'sexual misconduct' on a UN posting in Congo dents the army's honor,” India Today, November 5, 2012 (

[65] UN News, Sexual abuse allegations decline against UN peacekeepers in DR Congo and Liberia,, July 27, 2011

[66] Gerald Caplan, “Peacekeepers gone wild: How much more abuse will the UN ignore in Congo?” The Globe and Mail, August 3, 2012 (

[67] Matthew Russell Lee, On UN Report of Peacekeeper Rape in Congo, Ladsous' DPKO Says Nothing, Inner City Press, (August 7, 2012)

[68] Ruth Elkins, Francis Elliot, “UN Shame Over Sex Scandal,” The Independent, January 7, 2007 (

No comments: