Sexual assault, UN peacekeeping, and the Code Blue campaign: part 2

Read part one

Canada’s Response

On June 4, 2015, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, the Honourable Rob Nicholson, issued a statement condemning in the “strongest terms all forms of sexual abuse and exploitation by UN peace operations.” The statement goes on to express outrage over the delay in UN investigations and to welcome the announcement of the UN efforts to address sexual abuse and exploitation.

While Canada presses the UN to “do more to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse and to fully investigate any allegations against UN peacekeepers and staff,” one cannot ignore the irony and shallowness of these statements. The statement focuses on negative action, rather than offering any assistance moving forward. However, at this point, it is questionable if Canada would even have the capability to assist with this process. Canada’s own military and RCMP are both currently facing public scrutiny as reports and lawsuits are exposing ‘toxic’ environments for women and members of the LGBT community. Continue reading “Sexual assault, UN peacekeeping, and the Code Blue campaign: part 2”

Sexual assault, UN peacekeeping, and the Code Blue Campaign: Part 1

When the UN becomes the protectors of predators, instead of the prosecutors of predators, that destroys me because I believe in the UN and I believe in the power of the UN to make change.”

Theo Sowa, CEO of African Women’s Development Fund.

by Sara Walde, WPSN-C intern and MA candidate in International Development and Global Studies (with a specialization of feminist and gender studies)

The recent launch of AIDS-Free World’s Code Blue Campaign could not hacodeblueve been timelier. Revelations of child sexual abuse, perpetrated by French, Chadian, and Equatorial Guinean peacekeepers, were made public not a month before this global campaign to end immunity for UN peacekeeper sexual violence was announced. The knowledge of these horrific acts, involving hungry and homeless boys as young as eight, was never meant for public consumption. Indeed, when high-level UN officials gained knowledge of these abuses, they did the unthinkable: nothing.

Internal UN documents received by AIDS-Free World reveal severe gaps in the UN’s ability to adhere to its ‘zero-tolerance’ policy. These documents showed that by mid-July 2014, at least 12 UN officials were made aware of the abuses that occurred that spring. These officials also knew that no action had been, or was scheduled to be, taken. It wasn’t until senior aid worker Anders Kompass learned of the crimes that something was done. Seeing the UN’s failure to act, Kompass provided an internal report to French authorities, who subsequently thanked Kompass and launched an investigation. Senior level UN officials then began to be interested. However, as AIDS-Free World notes, the interest wasn’t in justice and care for the young boys; it wasn’t in ensuring more children weren’t harmed; and it wasn’t in condemning and persecuting the paedophilic peacekeepers. Rather, the sole focus was on Kompass’ actions concerning the leaked documents. Continue reading “Sexual assault, UN peacekeeping, and the Code Blue Campaign: Part 1”

Launch of Code Blue Campaign

Today saw the launch of a new campaign, Code Blue, by the non-governmental organization AIDS-Free World, in conjunction with a group of international experts: Ms. Graça Machel, L.Gen. Roméo Dallaire, Ms. Theo Sowa, Ambassador Amwarul Chowdhury (Bangladesh), Ms. Paula Donovan, and Mr. Stephen Lewis. The campaign wants to end immunity for sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers.

There are three main aspects to the campaign: the removal of any possibility of immunity for the UN’s non-military peacekeeping personnel (including staff of the various UN programs and funds, police and experts on mission) when accused of sexual abuse; the creation of an independent and external commission of inquiry to examine the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse within peacekeeping operations; and the engagement of individuals and organizations to pressure the UN’s leadership, troop-contributing countries; and countries experiencing conflict to respond in a more accountable manner to this issue.

Individuals and organizations are invited to join the campaign. Further details are available on the campaign’s website. Details from the campaign’s launch event today, which was livestreamed, can be found on Twitter using the hashtag #CodeBlue.