Allegations of sexual misconduct and/or rape among UN peacekeepers are not new. This report is notable because
- The UN is acknowledging that peacekeepers have become involved in the criminal underworld that often develops in large, long-term camps.
- It includes reports of the systematic use of rape: “Christian women were raped by members of the mostly Christian “anti-balaka” militia after being accused of interacting with Muslims” in the “M’Poko camp.
- The UN only acted after “a whistleblower leaked an internal U.N. investigation to French authorities, according to U.N. officials. Last month, the report by a panel including former Canadian supreme court justice Marie Deschamps found that U.N. staff in Bangui had “turned a blind eye to the criminal actions of individual troops” in that case.”
- The report raises the issue of identifying the countries where the accused peacekeepers come from. The UN is reluctant to identify the countries no doubt because it is afraid that countries will stop providing peacekeepers in case there is a scandal. Its not surprising that the UN is concerned about its image, and the image of peacekeeping operations, but sweeping the problem under the rug is short-sighted. Sooner or later these problems always make into the public eye, and the damage done to the UN’s reputation by covering it up is almost as bad as the offenses themselves.