United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that these who serve in peace operations around the world must never prey on the people they are meant to protect.
He also stressed the need to prevent and punish sexual exploitation and abuse by personnel of UN missions. Making remarks Tuesday, 28 September at the “Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping” held in New York, Mr. Ki-moon called on all troop -and –police contributing countries to act swiftly and decisively in holding perpetrators to account.
Sexual exploitation and abuse by UN Peacekeepers have been documented and reported from time to time. A draft study by the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) in 2014 said surveys of hundreds of women in Haiti and Liberia gave reasons for engaging in “transactional sex” with peacekeepers, including hunger, poverty and lifestyle improvement.
“Evidence from two peacekeeping mission countries demonstrates that transactional sex is quite common but underreported in peacekeeping missions,” the OIOS draft dated May 15, 2014 read. United Nationspeacekeepers commonly pay for sex with cash, dresses, jewelry, perfume, cell phones and other items, despite a ban on such relationships with people the world body is trying to help.
The UN boss disclosed that current missions around the world operate 350 medical clinics, 167 helicopters, 70 aircraft and 7 ships plus more than 13,000 vehicles with over 125,000 troops, police and civilian personnel from more than 120 countries.
He said being a peacekeeper is a noble calling, saying, “We must always remember the brave men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the name of peace”, while noting that today, the demand for peacekeeping has never been greater.
“UN peacekeepers are sheltering 200,000 civilians in South Sudan. United Nations missions have never been designed to accommodate such large number of refugees [displaced people]. We are monitoring a fragile peace agreement in Mali and working to prevent another outbreak of widespread violence in the Central African Republic.
In Lebanon, peacekeepers are a source of reassurance as the crisis deepens next door in Syria.” Meanwhile, Mr. Ki-moon has highlighted four key areas that are needed for effective peacekeeping operations, including predictable and effective military capabilities — especially critical enablers that have a high degree of readiness and meet UN standards plus qualified police personnel, as well as experts in the justice and corrections sectors, among others, adding, “We need more female police officers, and we would most welcome if you send formed police units.”
“As we fill today’s gaps”, he concluded in his remarks to the world leaders, “we need a standby reserve for tomorrow. I urge you to register the specific pledges you make today in our new Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System.” By Jonathan Browne