News / Africa

    Security Council Backs Move to Combat Peacekeeper Sex Abuse

    FILE - Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., talks to reporters during a break in Security Council consultations, Feb. 25, 2016. She says it's the council's job to ensure accountability when peacekeepers abuse those they're supposed to protect.
    FILE - Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., talks to reporters during a break in Security Council consultations, Feb. 25, 2016. She says it's the council's job to ensure accountability when peacekeepers abuse those they're supposed to protect.
    Margaret Besheer

    The U.N. Security Council on Friday endorsed a call from the secretary-general to repatriate peacekeepers who sexually abuse or exploit the people they are sent to protect.

    The council adopted the U.S.-drafted resolution 14-0, with one abstention.

    The resolution "makes clear" that it's the council's job "to ensure there is accountability when men, women and children are abused by the blue helmets this council sends to protect them,” U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said, using the U.N. nickname for peacekeepers, who are known for their blue headgear.

    FILE - A United Nations peacekeeper is seen standing behind a U.N. flag.
    FILE - A United Nations peacekeeper is seen standing behind a U.N. flag.

    In a rare occurrence, a council member submitted an amendment to the resolution just ahead of the vote. The Egyptian amendment would have weakened accountability measures for accused perpetrators, and the council rejected it in a separate vote.

    The new resolution supports Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's decision to repatriate entire police or military units where there is credible evidence of widespread or systemic sexual exploitation or abuse.

    It also requests that the U.N. chief replace units when the nation they come from does not investigate allegations, does not inform the U.N. of the progress of its investigations, or fails to hold its nationals accountable for criminal misconduct in peacekeeping missions.

    'Acting decisively'

    “This is not about collective punishment, nor about penalizing the many for the sick acts of the few,” said British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft. “This is about taking serious action in the face of serious allegations, about acting decisively against any pattern of abuse in any part of the world.”

    FILE - Three children living in the camp for Internally displaced people (IDP) of Mpoko, and claiming to be victims or witnesses of sexual abuse on minors by peacekeeper soldiers of the French Sangaris operation, posing in Bangui, Feb. 11, 2016.
    FILE - Three children living in the camp for Internally displaced people (IDP) of Mpoko, and claiming to be victims or witnesses of sexual abuse on minors by peacekeeper soldiers of the French Sangaris operation, posing in Bangui, Feb. 11, 2016.

    In 2015, there were 69 allegations of sexual abuse or exploitation made against U.N. peacekeepers. The U.N. mission in the Central African Republic, MINUSCA, was the subject of the most allegations — 22 last year, and already several more this year.

    Ban called this week for “decisive and bold action” to curb the problem, which has persisted in the U.N. ranks for decades.

    He warned that such allegations undermine the trust between the United Nations and the people it serves and tarnishes the credibility of peacekeeping operations and the United Nations as a whole.

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