n Commonwealth Youth and Development - The exploitation of children by UN peacekeepers

Volume 8, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1727-7140



Despite the widespread commitment to the rights and plight of children, the discrimination against and abuse of children, particularly in conflict areas, remains widespread. Sexual exploitation and abuse in armed conflict is a common occurrence and a range of perpetrators are involved. The United Nations has been subject to allegations of serious sexual misconduct by its peacekeepers in many parts of the world for many years. Studies have identified perpetrators from peace missions as involved in 'every kind of child sexual abuse and exploitation imaginable'. Sexual violence and abuse - regardless of the degree of overt physical force - has severe physical and psychological consequences with few victims having any access to care or counselling.

The ongoing sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) of children by United Nations peacekeepers is of particular concern, due to the complexities of holding perpetrators accountable. Major factors underlying SEA by peacekeepers are immunity from prosecution in many cases, the technical difficulties involved in investigating cases and the hyper-masculine culture of predominantly male peace missions. Protecting vulnerable populations, especially children, from abuse by peacekeepers requires a more sustained effort on the part of the United Nations and Troop Contributing Countries to hold offenders accountable.

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