BUNIA, Congo – The United Nations released a report in early 2017 outlining a series of proposals to combat the problem of sexual abuse and exploitation within its peacekeeping missions. However, similar proposals to help victims had been put forward more than a decade ago.
Here is a closer look at those proposals:
REFORMS RECOMMENDED IN 2005:
— The U.N. should set up a voluntary trust fund to provide assistance to victims with “simplified procedures so that payment can be made quickly.”
— On-site court martials should be set up in order to show there is no impunity for perpetrators.
— Victims should receive feedback about what has become of their complaints as it will reassure people the allegations are being taken seriously.
— A data-tracking system should be developed so that senior managers are aware of the number of allegations and the follow-up investigations.
— DNA testing should be used where available so that men “bear some financial responsibility for their actions.”
— Troop-contributing countries should report back on cases within 120 days, and then provide updates on progress every 120 days until resolved. Countries should be “obligated” to inform the U.N. of case outcomes.
FEBRUARY 2017 REPORT:
Vowing again to end impunity, the 2017 U.N. report proposes the following steps to combat sexual abuse and exploitation:
— Elevate the voices of victims and “put their rights and dignity at the forefront of our efforts.”
— A special U.N. victims’ rights advocate should be appointed. This person will ensure that “every victim receives appropriate personal care, follow-up attention and information on the progress of his or her case.” Advocates also would be added in the most affected missions in Congo, Central African Republic, Haiti and South Sudan.
— Seek to establish greater transparency on reporting and investigations. Establish a centralized repository of cases. Make changes to the way the U.N. presents allegations so it is clearer how many people have been affected. Start using a standardized incident report form.
— Work with troop-contributing countries to act more swiftly on credible allegations. Also proposes asking these countries to pay for travel so victims can attend trials. Consider “ex-gratia” payments in exceptional circumstances when member states fail. Ask the countries to agree to collect DNA from all deployed personnel and suspend payments to alleged perpetrators “in the face of credible allegations.”