By FRANCESCA TIRAVANTI, The Straits Times (Opinion)
In 2006, Under-Secretary-General for peacekeeping operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, addressed the problem of the sexual exploitation for them peacekeepers to the population stating that: “We dishonor these brave men and women when we fail to prevent or punish those from within their ranks who victimize the very people, peacekeepers are meant to protect and serve.” In this way, they were trying to implement a “zero-tolerance policy” when faced with a problem like this. 11 years later, this problem has not only no end, but has gotten worse.
However, 2006 was not the first case of this problem; reports of this date back even to the 1900s; the main examples of this being what happened in Bosnia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Mozambique. The abuses rank from sex trafficking to prostitution, degrading acts that are made in exchange for pleasure.
In the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (SPECPOL), Nations have gathered in the 63rd edition of the Harvard National Model United Nations (HNMUN) to discuss the reinforcement of peacekeeping operations and one of the topics that delegate were talking about was sexual assaults from the peacekeepers to the civilians in countries they are supposed to help. Although many have stated that there is the need for the international community to create a framework of zero-tolerance policy, they do not explain how will that work or how will it be funded. Some say they need more training, some say they need more sanctions, some say that we need to act now; which is true, but how are member states going to act if nobody proposes a solution to it.
These problems are considered one of the United Nations greatest sins, but what the people are forgetting is that the United Nations is composed of 193 member states, 193 countries that need to come up with a viable solution to stop this. We are all the United Nations and if we do not act now, it will probably be too late.
Delegates of the SPECPOL committee, discussing the problems that peacekeepers have created.