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Report slams UN’s failure to address sexual abuse allegations by peacekeepers

December 17, 2015

Independent panel: UN’s response to allegations of sexual abuse by peacekeeping troops amounted to a “gross institutional failure”

In June 2015, the Secretary-General of the United Nations appointed an independent review panel to examine the UN’s response to allegations that international  troops serving in a peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (“CAR”) had sexually abused a number of young children in exchange for food or money. Most of the alleged perpetrators were French peacekeepers.  Retired Canadian Supreme Court judge Marie Deschamps was appointed to chair the three-person panel.

On December 17th, the panel released its report” Taking Action on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by Peacekeepers: Report of an Independent Review on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by International Peacekeeping Forces in the Central African Republic.

The report concludes that the manner in which the UN responded to the allegations was seriously flawed and amounted to a “gross institutional failure”. It found that “information about the Allegations was passed from desk to desk, inbox to inbox, across multiple UN offices, with no one willing to take responsibility to address the serious human rights violations.”

When a senior officer in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights eventually disclosed the allegations to France in an effort to get the French government to intervene, he was asked to resign. When he refused, he was suspended from his job and investigated for misconduct.

In the 100-page report, the Panel describes how the UN’s response to the allegations was fragmented and bureaucratic, and failed to satisfy its core mandate to address human rights violations.

The Panel makes 12 recommendations to deter future incidents of sexual violence by peacekeepers, and to hold perpetrators accountable.

Emma Phillips acted as counsel to the independent panel.


Emma Phillips

Practice Areas

Human Rights Law