Despite peacekeepers’ enormous contributions to and sacrifices for the cause of peace and security, they have increasingly been associated with sexual exploitation and abuse of the vulnerable populations they are mandated to protect. Tragically, they benefit from near total impunity. It is a reality that the presence of peacekeepers in countries with precarious legal and social structures can foster sexual exploitation and abuse.
In countries as diverse as Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), East Timor, Eritrea, Kosovo, Liberia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and Somalia, numerous examples of rape, pedophilia, prostitution, and other forms of sexual exploitation and abuse have come to light in recent decades. The effect of such abuses is stark. Not only is it a direct one for the most vulnerable segments of society, its ramifications for the reputation of peacekeeping initiatives and the UN generally are also extremely wide, potentially impeding the organization from successfully carrying out other aspects of its mission.