UN Peacekeeping Force: Protectors or Perpetrators?

Under International Law, the UN Charter has laid out the foundation for the responsibility of the UN System to maintain international peace and security. Peacekeeping is one of the most effective tools available to the UN which provides the host countries with assistance to make the transition from the period of conflict to that of peace and is guided by three crucial principles i.e., the consent of the parties, impartiality and non-use of force except in the cases of self-defense and defence of the mandate. There are multiple significant benefits obtained by the peacekeeping operations conducted by the United Nations.Firstly, it creates a secure and stable environment and simultaneously provides the States with an opportunity to strengthen the State’s ability to provide security with full consideration given to the aspect of the rule of law appropriate platform for the establishment of authentic institutions of governance and also attempts to lend support to the political and human rights. It provides a process which exists within the State and provides the basic structure to ensure that international organisations which are working within it are able to pursue activities to further their cause at the country-level in a systematic and coordinated manner. In 2014, there were allegations about instances where French soldiers serving as peacekeepers in the Central African Republic had sexually abused a number of young children in exchange for food or money. A UN Report has stated that there are 69 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse made against UN peacekeeping soldiers in the year of 2015 which is a steep increase from the 52 claims in 2014.The main issue here is that ultimately the authority to investigate and prosecute in these cases is within the soldier’s home country and the United Nations does not have the legal authority to punish a country’s soldier even if they are serving duty under it. Even though the French had announced that efforts would be taken to launch an official investigation there have been several instances where the respective countries do not respond to the questions which the United Nations headquarters may have regarding the procedure of investigation of their soldiers abroad. Another significant aspect is that there is a wide variation in the manner in which each country would punish its troops. Even the United Nations has played a role in the continuance of this atrocious practice because many a times they do not raise their voice and are averse to the idea of reporting incidents that would embarrass nations that contribute soldiers to ensuring the success of these peacekeeping missions as they want to refrain from commenting on a public platform regarding the procedure which these countries follow to deal with sexual abuse allegations against the suspects and the UN Security Council has adopted a resolution where the peacekeeping units whose soldiers face allegations of sexual abuse can be sent back to their place of origin or citizenship. This was a landmark event since it was the first time that the Council had approved measures to address the steady rise in the allegations of sexual abuse committed by the peacekeepers whose main aim is to serve as protectors and not perpetrators. This step also had its fair share of opposition. Egypt had expressed its reservation on supporting this resolution. The UN Ambassador of Egypt felt that the issue of such nature must be addressed by the General Assembly since it constitutes of representatives from all the nations but whose resolutions do not have a legally binding effect, unlike the 15-member council. It was also argued that this issue should not create negative repercussions where the countries contributing these troops are undermined regarding their sacrifices and reputation. Russia’s deputy UN ambassador also expressed his views where he stated that peacekeeping is not a part of the Security Council’s duty to maintain international peace and security and that the countries which contribute these troops must play a significant role in reducing and eliminating these incidents. Here even though the opposition does not a valid point, the resolution still seems like the best way to curb this growing problem as extreme steps like this might be the only deterrent force in these instances. Written By: Vaishnavi Menon, A student of NUALS Kochi as part of Internship Program REFERENCES
  • http://www.bbc.com/news/world-35790697
  • http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/190794/Egypt/Politics-/Cairo-defends-abstention-from-UN-resolution-on-pea.aspx
  • http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/31437942/us-facing-opposition-on-tackling-sexual-abuse-by-un-troops
  • http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/operations/peacekeeping.shtml
  • http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=53368
  • http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/world/2016/02/27/peacekeepers/
 
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