Sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers: towards a hybrid solution
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse against UN peacekeepers over the past decade prompted a “zero-tolerance” policy response from high-level UN officials. To facilitate this policy, the UN has initiated and implemented various preventative and responsive measures. Despite the raft of reforms, it is the troop-contributing countries (TCCs) which have exclusive criminal jurisdiction over their military contingent members and the current framework has been criticised for failing to ensure accountability of offenders. In this thesis I explore alternative ways in which the United Nations can improve accountability for sexual exploitation and abuse committed by military contingent members within its peacekeeping personnel. Applying a feminist lens, I assess these options guided by three underlying principles; justice being seen to be done, host state ownership, and UN leadership. I first discuss the concepts of sexual exploitation and abuse as defined by the UN. Second, I explore whether TCCs could or should be sanctioned for failing to exercise criminal jurisdiction. Third, I investigate alternative ways to hold individual peacekeepers to account and fourth, I consider the role victims of sexual exploitation and abuse have to play and the remedies to which they may be entitled. I conclude that it is time for the UN to implement a different solution and remove TCCs’ exclusive criminal jurisdiction. I argue that a hybrid court for peacekeepers is the better alternative to hold individual perpetrators to account. A hybrid court would incorporate host state ownership and provide a clear structure for TCC cooperation and UN leadership. Additionally, victim inclusivity would be an important feature of such a court. Victims are entitled to effective remedies and I put forward recommendations for targeted and transformative reparations. I also recommend a re-draft of the definition of “sexual exploitation” to better reflect the primary targeted conduct of survival sex.