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News > World

Campaign Launched to End UN Immunity for Sexual Abuse

  • U.N. troops have been involved in rape and prostitution for decades.

    U.N. troops have been involved in rape and prostitution for decades. | Photo: Reuters

Published 13 May 2015

Amid long-standing controversy, the U.N. is pushed to end ongoing sexual violence.

A new high-profile campaign named Code Blue will demand the end of diplomatic immunity that absolves U.N. troops from accountability in a long list of past and present sexual violence crimes committed in peacekeeping missions.

The campaign is a collaborative effort that includes former diplomats, U.N. officials and the international advocacy group AIDS-Free World which considers immunity to be at the core of ongoing crimes perpetrated against women and children in conflict areas where U.N troops are sent to protect them.

"It's a perverse irony that the U.N. should be the only place on earth where even the most depraved and violent sex offenders can expect immunity from legal processes," Paula Donovan, co-director of AIDS-Free World, told Reuters. "It's time to call 'Code Blue': no more immunity, ever, for people working under the U.N. banner who are accused of sexual exploitation or abuse."

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The urgency of the campaign comes after a leaked report revealed French troops sexually abused children in the Central African Republic. The U.N. aid worker who leaked the report to The Guardian got suspended shortly after. The immunity that the soldiers enjoy has allowed them to get away with the crimes unpunished.

The crimes of the French troops are neither an isolated case nor a new phenomenon. As early as 1996, a U.N. study reported that in 6 out of 12 countries in armed conflict, the arrival of peacekeeping troops correlated with the rapid rise in child prostitution. In 2005 another U.N. investigation found peacekeeping troops had sex with women and girls in exchange for “two eggs to $5.” In 2006 a BBC investigation found that U.N. troops forced children in Haiti and Liberia to have sex with them in exchange for food. In 2008, the U.K. charity Save the Children reported U.N. troops raped young girls in Ivory Coast, Haiti and former southern Sudan.

“From confusion and ineptitude on the ground, to cover-ups at the highest levels of the U.N. in New York, Member States must subject U.N. peacekeeping to a rigorous, entirely independent commission of inquiry with complete access to documents and staff,” AIDS-Free World’s Donovan told IPS.

WATCH: TeleSUR Reports on The UN, Aid and NGOs in Haiti

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