- An earlier article, titled "UN Peacekeeping Paramilitarism"
explained that although Blue Helmets are supposed to restore order, maintain
peace and security, and help people transition to stability, they usually
create more conflict than resolution as imperial enforcers, committing
human rights abuses against vulnerable people, nearly always unpunished.
- The article can be accessed through the following link:
- Wherever they're deployed, it's the same. In Haiti, for
example, where for the first time ever, an illegal MINUSTAH mission enforced
coup d'etat authority against democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide, instead of staying out or backing his right to return.
- It's no better elsewhere. In the Democratic Republic
of the Congo (DRC), for example, where MONUC (renamed MONUSCO in July 2010)
never brought peace and stability, and may be involved in reports of mass
rapes and other atrocities. It wouldn't be the first time there or elsewhere.
- In December 2004, the London Times reported the following
about DR Congo:
- -- UN staffers committed 150 or more sex crimes, including
pornographic videos and photos, "now on sale in Congo;"
- -- two Russian pilots enlisted girls for sex in exchange
for jars of mayonnaise;
- -- UN peacekeepers in Kisangani, on the Congo River,
impregnated 141 Congolese women and girls; others were accused of rape;
- -- Congo's Minister of Defense, Major General Jean Pierre
Ondekane, told a top UN official that all peacekeepers in Kisangani would
be remembered "for running after little girls," not doing their
- -- at least two UN officials, a Ukrainian and Canadian,
were forced out of DR Congo for impregnating local women;
- -- many other abuses involved sexual abuse and exploitation,
involving sex trafficking and rape; and
- -- then UN Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations,
Jean-Marie Guehenno, told the Times: "The fact that these things happen
is a blot on us. It's awful. What is important is to get to the bottom
of it and fight it and make sure that people who do that pay for what they
- Unfortunately sexual abuse, rape, and sex trafficking
are more commonplace than occasional, wherever Blue Helmets are deployed.
- On November 5, 2009, the London Independent published
Bradley Klapper's AP report headlined, "Fifty UN peacekeepers punished
for sex abuses," saying:
- At least 50 were involved in "committing sexual
abuses (and exploitation) on United Nations missions since 2007, the UN
said today." It's the tip of the iceberg. Since the first June 1948
UNTSO mission after Israel's "war of independence," abuses occurred
regularly in Bosnia, Kosovo, Sudan, Lebanon, Cambodia, Liberia, East Timor,
Rwanda, Haiti, DR Congo, and elsewhere. Since 2007 through late 2009 alone,
UN officials uncovered over 450 instances of misconduct. Imagine how many
others weren't reported, and abuses remain ongoing today.
- In January 2009, Save the Children reported Blue Helmet
abuses, including trading food for sex with girls as young as eight in
Liberia, said also to go on in Burundi, Ivory Coast, East Timor, DR Congo,
Cambodia, and Bosnia. Various other reports were similar, abuses including
sex with young girls, rape and trafficking.
- On July 16, 2009, IPS writer Marina Litvinsky headlined,
"Rape by Regular Army a Growing Problem, HRW (Human Rights Watch)
- In DR Congo alone, "tens of thousands of women and
girls have suffered horrific acts of sexual violence at the hands of the
government army," according to a new report, titled "Soldiers
Who Rape, Commanders Who Condone: Sexual Violence and Military Reform in
the Democratic Republic of Congo." Little is done to stop it nor against
culpable peacekeepers. As a result, Congolese women and girls are ravaged
- HRW's report came two days after an Oxfam one about rampant
sexual violence and abuse in 20 conflict-ridden North and South Kivu communities.
As a result, people there live in constant fear of more attacks, vulnerable
on their own. Congo's MONUC head, Alan Doss, also took note, saying:
- "We have also seen violence against women and girls
in provinces that have been at peace for many years." In large parts
of the country, no one is safe.
- On September 7, 2010, New York Times writer Neil MacFarquhar
headlined, "UN Officials Say 500 Were Victims of Congo Rapes,"
- In July and August, they were raped in eastern Congo.
Rebel and government troops were accused, involving girls as young as seven.
Worse still, "Over 15,000 rapes were reported annually in both 2008
and 2009," according to Atul Khare, deputy head of peacekeeping, omitting
how many peacekeepers may be culpable, given how often later evidence shows
it wherever they're deployed.
- On October 3, New York Times writer Jeffrey Gettleman
headlined, "Mass Rapes in Congo Reveals UN Weakness," saying:
- Peacekeepers stood by as marauding rebels mass raped
at least 200 women. "Despite more than 10 years (and) billions of
dollars, the peacekeeping force still seems to be failing at its most elemental
task: protecting people," though left unsaid was why. It's because
their mission everywhere is for privilege and power, not people, especially
when Black and impoverished.
- According to Eve Ensler, author of "The Vagina Monologues,"
"Congo is the UN's crowning failure. If the women being raped were
the daughters or wives or mothers of the power elites, I can promise you
this war would have ended about 12 years ago." Instead it continues
to rape Congo of its resources as well as its women, easy pickings, including
- On May 27, 2008, CNN reported that:
- "Humanitarian aid workers and United Nations peacekeepers
are sexually abusing small children in several war-ravaged and food-poor
countries," according to Save the Children.
- "After interviewing hundreds of children, the charity
said it found instances of rape, child prostitution, pornography, indecent
sexual assault and trafficking of children for sex." According to
Jasmine Whitebread, Save the Children UK's chief executive:
- "It is hard to imagine a more grotesque abuse of
authority or flagrant violation of children's rights."
- As shocking is the "chronic under-reporting"
of believed thousands more children suffering globally in silence, "too
frightened to report the abuse, fearful" more will follow, and no
one will confront their abusers.
- Report on "UN Peacekeeping Economies and Local Sex
Industries: Connections and Implications"
- In September 2009, Kathleen M. Jennings and Vesna Nikolic-Rstanovic
prepared the MICROCON (Micro Level Analysis of Violent Conflict) Research
Working Paper 17 with the above title.
- Examining Blue Helmet missions in Bosnia (UNMIBH), Kosovo
(UNMIK), Liberia (UNMIL), and Haiti (MINUSTAH), the paper examined "the
interplay between the peacekeeping economy and the sex industry, including
domestic sex work, trafficking for sexual exploitation, and sex tourism."
- Despite claiming "zero tolerance," UN officials
haven't stopped decades of serious peacekeeper-committed abuses. According
- It "suggests that the existence and potential long-term
perpetuation of a highly gendered peacekeeping economy threatens to undermine,
if not actively contradict, the goals and objectives to gender roles and
relations that are generally an implicit or explicit component of most
contemporary peace operations."
- Organized Sex Transactions in Peacekeeping Economies
- Sexual exploitation is wide-ranging, including slavery
and prostitution, what the UN calls "transactional sex," peacekeepers
very much involved. In countries like Bosnia and Kosovo, "domestic
sex work and sex trafficking have become a seemingly permanent part of
the" economy. Their peacekeeping missions affect both supply and demand,
"effectively creating avenues (for) trafficking of women for sexual
exploitation into/through these areas."
- Local women often can't satisfy the demand so foreign
ones from poor nations are imported to supplement. Bosnia and Kosovo "are
consistent with other (countries where) the development and evolution of
sex trafficking is a component of the overall expansion of the sex industry,
which in turn is driven by militarism."
- Organized crime also gets involved. The prevalence of
rape and sex slavery increases. Women and young girls are brutally exploited,
and "documented cases of UN soldiers (show) that, far from helping
the victims," they become clients or otherwise implicated in the trade.
- Former prisoners said they saw girls forced into UN vehicles
and driven away. International military and civilian personnel are directly
involved in the sex industry, including trafficking, a 2002 Turin Conference
on Trafficking, Slavery and Peacekeeping report saying "peacekeepers
are often part of the problem," connected to organized crime, because
human trafficking provides "an important revenue source."
- In addition, once established, the sex trade continues
when peacekeepers leave, its effects permanent and destructive. MICROCON
also asked if the link between peacekeeping economies and sex industries
remains valid given claimed UN efforts against it. Yes, based on evidence
and observations in Haiti and Liberia where the local sex trade and trafficking
flourish, demand "generated by the peacekeeping economy."
- "The impact of the UN's zero-tolerance policy on
(Haitian and Liberian) sex industries....is debatable." The policy
is hard to enforce, harder with little or no effort made to do it. Further,
it says nothing about the legality or illegality of the sex industry in
countries with peacekeepers, and doesn't try to regulate their types or
nature. In fact, it can't as it's up to national or sub-national authorities,
often corrupted and complicit.
- "The critical issue - the environment that enables
the commoditization of the sexual labor of local women, men, and children
- is ignored, except insofar as mission personnel are prohibited from patronizing
certain establishments," or otherwise being involved. Yet, they do
it anyway, the above evidence showing how pervasively and abusively.
- MICROCON concluded, saying different peace missions have
different gender mandates, goals, and objectives, despite UN Resolution
1325, calling for a gender perspective that includes the special needs
and rights of women and girls. The ultimate goal is gender equality, nowhere
- "....there seems to be a fundamental mismatch between
the (UN's) goals....and its participation in and perpetuation of a peacekeeping
economy that has concrete and often negative impacts on" local women
and men. As a result, peacekeepers often undermine local economies, raising
considerations about their effectiveness and real purpose.
- UN officials acknowledge the problem, including its own
personnel involved in committing sexually exploitive or abuse acts. Yet
acknowledgement only highlights its "tendency to compartmentalize
problems....rather than (address) symptoms of the larger political economy
that it is unable or unwilling to deal with constructively."
- The UN's zero tolerance policy is more rhetoric than
effective policy, and won't change fundamentals on the ground that include
an informal and exploitable labor force, corruption and criminality, no
accountability, and ongoing sex trade. As a result, UN peacekeepers are
more corrosive and negative, not a positive influence where they're deployed.
They serve power, not local people needs, and that's the crux of the problem
UN authorities make no effort to address or correct.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached email@example.com.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour
on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and
Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.