2016-03-12 10:17:00

International pressure for UN to deal with peacekeeper sex abuse

(Vatican Radio) With mounting international pressure and a resolution put forward by the United States, the UN approved its first ever resolution to tackle an escalating problem of sexual abuse by its staff, most notably UN peacekeepers.

Listen to Alexander MacDonald's report:

In 2015 alone the scandal involved some 69 alleged cases of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers acting as predators in war-torn countries and taking advantage of vulnerable civilians. Many of the cases involved children.

The UN resolution, put forward by the United States, attempts to reform an unresponsive system. Military or police units where there is (quote) “credible evidence of widespread or systemic sexual exploitation and abuse” could be repatriated to their country of origin.

US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Powers describes the broad criteria adopted by the resolution. There are, however, no plans to screen military personnel for past sexual misconduct.

Sex abuse by UN personnel is not new for the UN. In 1996 a study on child sexual abuse of UN Peacekeepers found that in 6 out of 12 countries in which peacekeeping troops were deployed, the sexual exploitation of children increased rapidly. In one case, UN peacekeeping troops were implicated directly in acquiring sex slaves for a brothel in Bosnia.

To the many victims of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers, Ms Powers pledged to do better.

UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon has promised to name countries of the alleged perpetrators, to speed up investigations and to provide information on outstanding allegations on a new UN website.

Although it is a step in the right direction, the UN’s moves to clean up its sex abuse problems, according to Amnesty International, still require significant reform throughout the UN system.

Already in the first two months of 2016 there have been 25 allegations of sexual abuse by UN Peacekeepers.

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