UN Calls for New Agreement in Protecting Women from Abuse by UN Peacekeepers

The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, is requesting that all member nations contributing personnel to UN Actions sign a new compact in regard to protecting women who are in contact with UN Peacekeeping Missions. Although there is no enforcement mechanism in the compact, Guterres is asking that countries pledge to prevent and stop sexual assault violations.

In the past, soldiers attached to national military units supplied by governments and therefore not under UN control, as well as civilians both in and outside UN jurisdiction, have often been accused of sexual and other violent offenses, but the UN has had to make the excuse that it has no jurisdiction in these cases because the laws of the contributing countries apply even when involved in a UN operation.

Through July of 2017, 37 allegations of exploitation and sexual abuse have been registered by the UN peacekeeping department. In 2016, there were 103 cases; in 2015, 69; and 52 in 2014. Some of the highest number of allegations in the last decade were 127 in 2007 and 112 in 2009. These are known cases, but people in the field and international advocacy groups say that there are probably many, many more.

Nations signing the compact will be pledging to professionalize their operations and “demand accountability from our leaders, managers and commanders, and any individual who violates our fundamental values.” Victims — who tend to be mostly women and girls — are to be placed at the center of concern; in the past they have often been neglected, demeaned and in danger of physical harm.

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