Resignations, fruitless investigations and empty promises by the United Nations have become the norm when it comes to sexual abuse claims against its peacekeeping force.
The problem still persists and the intergovernmental organization has nothing to show for what it has been able to do in order to tackle it.
U.N. peacekeepers are facing fresh allegations that they sexually abused four young girls in the Central African Republic. While the number of troops involved wasn’t revealed, the organization’s officials named the countries of the accused — Egypt, Morocco and Gabon — and asked them to investigate their soldiers serving in the MINUSCA mission in Bangui.
However, as always, the reports will soon subside in the press and nothing substantial will happen as far as the prosecution of the suspects is concerned.
Last August, peacekeepers were accused of raping three young females, including a minor, just weeks after the current Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon removed the head of the mission in CAR over similar allegations. In fact, between 2014 and 2015, the Bangui mission received at least 13 complaints of sexual abuse by its troops. Investigations were ordered but eventually the issue died down.
In a separate investigation by the Associated Press released in June, it was found that members of a U.N. peacekeeping mission deployed in Haiti engaged in “transactional” sexual relationships with more than 225 Haitian women in exchange for basic necessities such as food and medicine. Again, no one was put on trial.
It primarily comes down to the system in place. Under U.N. rules, if a soldier is found guilty of committing a crime, they are sent back home for further investigation. Since no troop-contributing country wants a tarnished reputation, cases of misconduct are usually buried and forgotten.
Although former U.N. head Kofi Annan introduced comprehensive strategies to eliminate future sexual exploitation and abuse almost ten years ago, scandals involving troops continue to emerge. And so, it’s the faulty system that needs to be changed to stop this never-ending cycle of abuse by people who are meant to enforce peace and protect civilians in embattled regions.