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«Fifty-ninth session Agenda item 77 Comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects Letter dated 24 March ...»

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Assembly should authorize the Secretary-General to require DNA and other tests to establish paternity in appropriate cases so as to ensure that peacekeeping personnel can be obligated to provide child support to so-called peacekeeper babies that they father and abandon.

Criminal accountability of military members of national contingents. The model memorandum of understanding should specifically provide that troopcontributing countries must ensure that their contingents are obligated to respect local law. It is noted that the model status-of-forces agreement assumes that the Secretary-General will obtain formal assurances from a troop-contributing country that it will exercise criminal jurisdiction over its troops in return for the immunity conferred upon them by the host State under the terms of the status-of-forces agreement. Such formal assurances are no longer obtained, however. Such clauses should once again be inserted into the model memorandum of understanding to ensure that troop-contributing countries have a legal obligation to consider for prosecution acts of sexual exploitation and abuse committed by military members of peacekeeping missions that constitute crimes under the laws of the troopcontributing country or the host State. The model memorandum of understanding should require the troop-contributing country to report on any action taken by it on cases referred to it as a result of United Nations investigations in which it participated. The General Assembly is requested to decide that acceptance of such procedures constitutes a necessary condition for acceptance of an offer by a troopcontributing country to supply troops to the Organization.

Criminal accountability of United Nations staff and experts on mission. The founders of the United Nations did not intend that the privileges and immunities of officials (staff have the status of officials) and experts on mission (civilian police and military observers have the status of experts on mission) should constitute a shield from national criminal prosecution for crimes committed in a State hosting a United Nations operation. However the absence of a functioning judicial system in some peacekeeping locations means that it is not feasible to waive immunity in those jurisdictions. As a result, the prosecution of staff or experts on mission for crimes committed in such a State depends on whether the State of nationality of the suspect has conferred extraterritorial jurisdiction on its courts to take such action and whether it can, in the circumstances of the case, effectively take such action.

But this would tend to be the exception rather than the rule. It is recommended that the Secretary-General appoint a group of experts to advise him as to whether it would be feasible to draft an international instrument or use other means to ensure that United Nations personnel are subject to criminal prosecution for defined crimes of sexual exploitation and abuse. If the group recommended such a course of action, the General Assembly could refer the matter to either the Sixth Committee or to an ad hoc committee of the Assembly specially created for the purpose of elaborating such a text.

I. The problem in context

1. United Nations peacekeeping was conceived soon after the establishment of the Organization to monitor ceasefires and peace agreements, first through the use of unarmed observers and later (1956) supplemented with armed battalions. By 1960, with the establishment of the United Nations Operation in the Congo, United Nations peacekeeping evolved dramatically from monitoring to providing a


substantial array of technical assistance to a Government desperately in need of support. This form of multidimensional peacekeeping was groundbreaking for the Organization. But such was the enormity of the effort expended by the United Nations in the Congo that it was not until 1989, with the formation of the United Nations Transition Assistance Group in Namibia, that this type of peacekeeping was practised again. From that point on, the majority of United Nations peacekeeping operations mounted by the Security Council have undertaken a variety of tasks beyond monitoring.

2. A consistent theme throughout the history of the Organization is the degree to which peacekeeping personnel have often failed to grasp the dangers confronting them, seduced by day-to-day conditions that can be viewed as benign. In other words, United Nations peacekeeping personnel have often read normalcy into a situation that is far from normal. And it is this inability on the part of many peacekeepers to discern the extent to which the society is traumatized and vulnerable that is at the root of many of the problems addressed in the present report. Peacekeeping is — and always will be — dangerous, demanding and exceptional, and no participant should assume peacekeeping to be “normal”.

3. United Nations peacekeeping has a distinguished history of helping many States and peoples to emerge from conflict with the hope of a better future. Many peacekeeping personnel have given their lives to realize that goal, and their achievements and sacrifices must not be forgotten. But despite the distinguished role that United Nations peacekeeping personnel have played over the last half-century, there regrettably will always be those who violate codes of conduct and thereby dishonour the many who have given their lives in the cause of peace. Sexual exploitation and abuse by military, civilian police and civilian peacekeeping personnel is not a new phenomenon. Such acts cover a wide spectrum of behaviour, from breaches of the Organization’s standards of conduct, such as solicitation of adult prostitutes, which may be legal in some countries, to acts that would be considered a criminal offence in any national jurisdiction, for example rape and paedophilia. Besides the United Nations, media and human rights organizations in particular have documented the involvement of peacekeeping personnel in sexual exploitation and abuse in operations ranging from those in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo in the early 1990s to Cambodia and Timor-Leste in the early and late 1990s to West Africa in 2002 and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2004.

4. On 15 April 2003, following its consideration of the report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services on allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in West Africa (A/57/465), the General Assembly adopted resolution 57/306, in which it requested the Secretary-General to take measures to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse in humanitarian and peacekeeping operations. It called upon the SecretaryGeneral and troop-contributing countries to hold to account any personnel who committed such acts. On 15 October 2003 the Secretary-General promulgated detailed rules prohibiting sexual exploitation and abuse that are mandatory for all United Nations staff, irrespective of their type of appointment (ST/SGB/2003/13).

5. In section 1 of the bulletin, “sexual exploitation” is defined as “any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another”. “Sexual abuse” is defined as “actual or the Secretary-General invited me to assist him in determining the nature and extent of the problem of sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping missions. In October 2004 I visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Bunia in particular, and sensed that sexual exploitation and abuse was widespread, involving both civilian and uniformed personnel. Sexual exploitation and abuse appeared to be ongoing, thereby highlighting the inadequacy of current measures to address the problem in peacekeeping operations.

9. In 2004 the Department of Peacekeeping Operations received 16 allegations against civilians, 9 allegations against civilian police and 80 allegations against military personnel, for a total of 105 allegations. The majority of allegations related to sex with persons under the age of 18 years (45 per cent) and sex with adult prostitutes (31 per cent). Allegations of rape and sexual assault comprised 13 per cent and 5 per cent respectively. The remaining 6 per cent of allegations related to other forms of sexual exploitation and abuse defined in the 2003 SecretaryGeneral’s bulletin.

10. Sexual exploitation and abuse damages the image and credibility of a peacekeeping operation and damages its impartiality in the eyes of the local population, which in turn may well impede the implementation of its mandate. The ill discipline engendered by sexual exploitation and abuse also degrades the effectiveness of the peacekeeping operation, especially in times of crisis. Moreover, instances of sexual exploitation and abuse may constitute violations of international humanitarian law, international human rights law or both.2 Indeed, a peacekeeping operation cannot legitimately advise the Government on adherence to international human rights standards and legal and judicial reform if its own peacekeeping personnel are engaging in acts of sexual exploitation and abuse, including such crimes as rape. Sexual misconduct by peacekeeping personnel can also expose both them and the mission to blackmail and violent retaliation, especially during times of breakdown in law and order in the country. Moreover, such misconduct increases the incidence of medical problems, including the risk of contracting or transmitting sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. Victims frequently suffer from psychological trauma as a result of their experiences. Victims and abandoned peacekeeper babies may face stigmatization by their families and communities, which deprive them of all support (economic, social, emotional, etc.). This in turn may push victims into further exploitative relationships with peacekeeping personnel and others in order for them and their children to survive.

11. Many important efforts are currently under way in peacekeeping operations to address sexual exploitation and abuse. But they are ad hoc and inadequate to deal with the problem. What is needed is a radical change in the way the problem is addressed in peacekeeping contexts. Measures are suggested in the present report that can be implemented immediately by both the Secretary-General and Member States to improve the prevention, identification and response to this egregious violation of the human rights of the local population, as well as measures for longerterm reform.

12. The reports of the Office of Internal Oversight Services on West Africa and Bunia indicate the difficulty of identifying perpetrators because victims are often frightened, poorly educated young women and children who have difficulty in __________________

See Women, Peace and Security: Study Submitted by the Secretary-General pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000), chapter IV (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.03.IV.1).

A/59/710 identifying their foreign assailants. Moreover, in cases involving prostitution there is no economic incentive to report. It follows that while the United Nations must take action against perpetrators, it is crucial to concentrate on preventive measures.

13. During my visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, women’s organizations brought to my attention a number of factors that they believed contributed to the sexual exploitation and abuse of women and children. They include factors external to the Mission, such as the erosion of the social fabric because of the conflict, which results in a high number of children with little or no family support; a high level of extreme poverty; lack of income-generation possibilities; a high incidence of sexual violence against women and children during the civil conflict coupled with discrimination against women and girls, leading to a degree of local acceptance of violent and/or exploitative behaviour against them;

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