Tackling peacekeeper abuse
The vast majority of the over 100,000 UN uniformed peacekeeping personnel perform their jobs with courage, dedication and professionalism. Yet those who commit sexual offences bring shame on the entire UN system and betray the trust of those that they have been sent to protect. There is a need for system-wide reform to ensure that such abuses cannot again occur with widespread impunity.
Despite recent measures announced by the new UN Secretary-General, attempts to reform the system have been piecemeal and have not addressed a complex problem that requires nuanced and targeted responses. While there is general agreement at the UN, in member states, and from civil society about what needs to be done to address the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers, very few practical solutions have been proposed, let alone implemented.
A key problem is that the current laws, policies and practices to tackle sexual exploitation and abuse operate across different scales, including at the international level, at the UN level, at the local level where the peacekeeping operation is being carried out, and within the countries that contribute troops to peacekeeping operations.
As a result, very few effective solutions have been designed that can address the causes and consequences of peacekeeper sexual exploitation and abuse.
A project team led by the University of Reading and independent non-for-profit organisation Keeping Children Safe has carried out research to produce a robust, evidence-based solution that can be adapted to be implemented in all peacekeeping entities in a context-specific manner. It has brought together academics and civil society from around the world, as well as the UN, governments and NGOs.