By Rosa Freedman, Sarah Blakemore, Alex Dressler, Nicolas Lemay-Hébert
This publication is the result of a partnership between Keeping Children Safe and the University of Reading, as part of a research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy. The project focuses on how to safeguard children from sexual exploitation and abuse perpetrated by UN peacekeepers.
The vast majority of the over 100,000 UN uniformed peacekeeping personnel and thousands of civilian peacekeepers 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.
The project team has designed, and are now testing and implementing, an effective solution that can be adapted for use in all peacekeeping operations. Our research demonstrates that work across and involving all of those scales can produce effective practical peacekeepers through to reporting mechanisms and access to justice, we have identified good practice as well as gaps and weaknesses, and have created specific recommendations that will systematically address those issues and provide streamlined child safeguarding based on international standards and that is relevant to the mission in Haiti.
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