WE call on the UN to take action to put prevention, protection, provision and justice at the heart of its peacekeeping
The Women’s Equality Party (WE) today calls on the United Nations (UN) to take action to put prevention, protection, provision and justice at the heart of its own peacekeeping operations. WE Co-founder and President, Catherine Mayer, says: "Violence against women and girls is the most extreme form of structural inequalities experienced by women. It is unimaginable that the very people intended to protect us - to uphold and defend our human rights - can perpetrate these crimes against the most vulnerable."
"But it is even more unimaginable that the international community is failing to care for the victims or hold the perpetrators to account," she adds.
More than 100 victims have said they were sexually abused by U.N. peacekeepers and non-U.N. forces last year, and French troops on duty in the Central African Republic are alleged to have committed systematic rape and abuse on children at a displaced persons' camp from December 2013 to June 2014.
"This is not the first time such claims have surfaced in relation to UN peacekeepers, but it must be the last," says Mayer. "The United Nations must urgently address the systematic failures in the way it prevents and responds to these crimes," she adds.
WE support Aids-Free World in pushing for more effective protection and quicker justice for victims, the vast majority of whom are women and children in unstable situations. The Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations established that peacekeepers and UN officials are immune from legal process in the host country, though every state retains the right to punish its own diplomats in its home jurisdiction.
"We recognise that there is a need to protect against host countries obstructing, or exercising undue influence over, international organisations including the UN," says Mayer.
"But inconsistencies between member states’ domestic legal systems, variations in legal jurisdictions for civilians and military personnel, and the impracticality of securing witnesses and evidence from abroad, means that immunity is turning into impunity. Victims cannot afford to pay this price."
WE are calling for an investigation into the possibility of the UN providing a judicial system for accountability in peacekeeping missions. This could work in a similar way to the court-martial jurisdiction of military forces but covering civilians too, and could be underpinned by Aids-Free World’s proposed independent investigation. WE want the UK government, as a member of the UN Security Council, to lead the way in investigating such a solution.
Published April 13, 2016