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Sex abuse charges against peacekeepers may continue for years: UN diplomat

[JURIST] Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein, Jordan's UN ambassador and advisor to the secretary-general on the sexual exploitation and abuse in United Nations peacekeeping operations, has told the UN Security Council [press release] that it could be three or four more years before the "unacceptably high" number of sexual abuse charges against UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo [JURIST news archive] can be adequately addressed through UN reforms [JURIST news archive]. Reports of abuse by members of UN peacekeeping forces first surfaced in 2004 and following initial allegations of broad abuses, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked Prince Zeid [UN press release] to provide a "comprehensive strategy to eliminate future sexual exploitation and abuse in UN peacekeeping operations."

According to Prince Zeid, the mechanisms designed to facilitate complaints have been improved and a strategy is in place, though accusations remain high and may occasionally spike in the future. UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Marie Guehenno [official profile] stated that a ban on prostitution would likely be a positive step in reducing abuses. Meanwhile legal experts have been analyzing issues surrounding UN staff diplomatic immunity and conflicts of laws among the UN, countries where abuse occurs, and the governments supplying troops to those locations. An independent review report [PDF text; JURIST report], released last October, concluded that the UN is not taking proper measures to end sexual abuse during peacekeeping missions. Reuters has more. The UN News Centre has additional coverage.

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