n Conflict Trends - The impact of peacekeeping operations : successful United Nations initiatives in response to sexual exploitation and abuse : fact file 2

Volume 2014, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1561-9818


As of 10 April 2014, there are 17 peace operations led by the United Nations (UN) Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), and 118 111 peacekeepers worldwide. The number of peacekeeping operations has increased over the years, in response to demands from countries in the aftermath of conflict for this kind of intervention. Peacekeepers contribute to maintaining peace, and by their very presence reduce the risk of further conflict by 55%. However, research into the political economy of peacekeeping sheds light not only on the benefits, but also the costs of peacekeeping. Whilst peacekeeping operations significantly improve the chances for peace, empirical studies highlight how such operations are an economic source of income and employment in economically weak post-conflict contexts, and show the perverse incentive and increased instability that results if such an economic source is reduced or removed. Peacekeeping missions also bring with them the risks of increased prostitution in response to demand from peacekeeping personnel, trafficking in women and girls, the spread of HIV/AIDS, and sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) of local populations, including minors. Whilst SEA by peacekeeping personnel is a reality, discussions around peacekeepers and sexual violence have disproportionately portrayed them as perpetrators rather than protectors, as SEA figures in the media eclipse successful peacekeeping initiatives.

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