The UN peacekeeping missions with the noble objective of transitioning peace in the war ravaged nations, sometimes become perpetrator of crime to the people they are supposed to protect.
According to research conducted recently by Associated Press (AP), there have been about 2,000 allegations received by United Nations of sexual abuse and exploitation between 2004 and 2016.
Although, UN has a policy of zero tolerance against sexual exploitations, often they are mute spectators to such heinous crimes carried out by their own men. The UN after all depends on the individual nation’s military for their peacekeeping missions and often has limited influence on them.
The peacekeeping forces sometimes find it difficult to upkeep the set of values and emotions, such as, empathy and impartiality, “attributes that may have been discouraged by traditional military training,” said researchers Paul Higate, a lecturer at the school of sociology, politics and international studies at the University of Bristol in the UK.
Another cause of sexual violence by the peacekeeping forces is racism. They may have feelings of superiority towards the natives of the land they are supposed to protect. The sexual exploitation takes place mostly in the Ivory Coast, Liberia, Haiti, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo. The sexual exploitation that takes place in these countries surpasses all other UN missions combined.
UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ communications officer, Aditya Mehta explains the responsibility of the country providing the troop to screen the soldiers who would be sent to peacekeeping missions.
UN always requests the contributing nations to do screening based on criminal or disciplinary records and records of human rights violations including sexual abuse and exploitation. UN efforts to prevent crimes perpetrated by the peacekeeping troops also include vetting all the people deployed as military personnel or police force. This was started by the UN Secretariat in April 2016 to expand the previous practice of vetting individuals.
One of the solutions proposed has been more incorporation of female troops. Mehta said, “Women are deployed as police, military and civilian[s] and have made a positive impact on peacekeeping environments, both in supporting the role of women in building peace and [in] protecting women’s rights.”
In fact, increasing number of female troops is being incorporated in the peacekeeping mission. Mehta said, around 105,000 female peacekeeping forces have been deployed comprising of 1,200 police and 3,700 military personnel.
However, too many female troops are difficult to obtain. The source nations are often short of large number of female troops.
The solution probably lies in the better behavior, better training and sensitization. At present there are approximately 96,000 peacekeepers in the world. The biggest contributing countries include Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Rwanda, and Ethiopia.