The UN’s 122,000 peacekeepers operate in some of the most fraught regions across the globe. They stand between civilians and the forces of violence, between crisis and peace. Their bravery and commitment exemplify the UN’s mission “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”.
But acts of sexual abuse perpetrated by a small number of UN peacekeepers are having a grave impact. As well as causing misery to victims, abuse violates the trust communities place in peacekeepers.
UNA-UK believes decisive action is needed to combat sexual abuse by peacekeepers.
We believe that the responsibility to prosecute sexual abuse should be established as an international standard. If acts of sexual abuse that are universally regarded as criminal are committed by UN peacekeepers, then there is a responsibility to bring the perpetrators to justice.
This is a shared responsibility. It falls to the states who deploy peacekeepers to prosecute. If these states are not able to live up to their responsibility then the international community, and the UN, must help them to do so. If this is unsuccessful then the international community must step into the gap.
Mission:Justice is UNA-UK’s campaign to turn the responsibility to prosecute peacekeepers who commit abuse into reality. We will do this by urging the UN and member states to work together to strengthen the global system’s ability to respond effectively. Specifically, we are calling for:
UN member states to:
Pass a UN Security Council resolution, similar to the resolution on child soldiers, which would mandate the UN Secretary-General to create an annual list of those countries where sexual abuse is widespread and systemic, and prevent those countries from contributing troops to the UN.
Ratify the Draft Convention on the Criminal Accountability of United Nations Officials and Experts on Mission - a proposed treaty yet to be adopted, which would help prosecute perpetrators of sexual abuse. The treaty has remained in committee discussions in the General Assembly for the last 12 years.
The UN Secretary-General to:
Establish ‘Regional Champions’ who will work with states to explore and remove the barriers to prosecution, both on the UN side and within the countries themselves, and pressure the UN and member states to remove these barriers.
Convene a group of experts to consider the feasibility of new domestic, international and hybrid instruments to hold peacekeepers accountable for sexual abuse, as recommended by two reports from the UK House of Lords.
Further detailed policies will be announced in a research paper in the coming weeks.
Over the coming weeks and months UNA-UK will work through our existing networks, and build new partnerships across the world, to better understand the needs and wishes of all those affected and involved, to help them remove the obstacles to prosecution, and to demand that justice is done.