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UN establishes disciplinary units to eliminate sexual abuse by peacekeepers

4 August 2005 Upgrading the drive to eliminate sexual abuse by peacekeepers following reports over the past year and a half of peacekeepers exploiting vulnerable women and girls in their area of deployment, eight United Nations missions have been ordered to immediately establish disciplinary units staffed by senior-level experts on personnel conduct.

The “Conduct and Discipline Units” will replace individuals in each mission who had taken on the issue in addition to their other duties. The units will be guided by a headquarters office now being staffed in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York, and they will charged with handling complaints and managing data while ensuring compliance with UN standards of conduct.

UN rules forbid staff from contact with prostitutes, forbid sexual relations with anyone under 18, and “strongly discourage” relations with beneficiaries. In UN peacekeeping, that means all members of the host population.

Individual peacekeeping missions also have their own codes of conduct with more stringent measures, including curfews, lists of off-limits establishments, a rule that troops wear military uniforms while off duty, and telephone hotlines to report abuse.

The Conduct and Discipline Units are among the recommended actions proposed by Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Adviser on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by United Nations Peacekeeping Personnel. In June, the General Assembly approved a wide-ranging package of these recommendations.

In addition to the Conduct and Discipline Units, other measures now in process include a policy on victims’ assistance, intensified training of peacekeepers, measures to strengthen leadership accountability, improvements in living conditions for peacekeeping personnel. They also include amendments to legal agreements with troop-contributing countries, including contracts with all peacekeeping personnel to include prohibitions on sexual exploitation and abuse.

Investigations against some 186 personnel, many resulting in dismissals and repatriations, have been completed.


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