Skip to main content

Peacekeeping Operations: Misconduct

Volume 478: debated on Monday 23 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with UN officials on allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of children by peacekeepers; what measures have been proposed to prevent such abuse; and if he will make a statement. (211883)

I have been asked to reply.

The UK takes all allegations of misconduct by UN and other peacekeepers extremely seriously and we believe strongly that UN personnel must uphold the highest standards of behaviour. The vast majority of UN peacekeepers uphold those standards while doing important work in difficult and dangerous circumstances.

The UN is responsible for tackling allegations of misconduct directly with troop contributing countries. We will continue to work closely with the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations and other partners to ensure that its ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards incidents of abuse is implemented in full.

We are providing support to the UN's efforts to assess, prioritise and respond to the sexual exploitation and abuse of children by UN peacekeepers and aid workers. This includes taking concrete measures to address both the military and civilian branches of peacekeeping support operations. One such measure, the UN's Conduct and Discipline Units, is funded by the UK's Conflict Prevention Pool. These teams work to ensure that all peacekeeping personnel undergo training on UN standards of conduct relating to sexual exploitation and abuse, and that all allegations of wrongdoing are reported upon and followed up with appropriate action. In the UN Mission in Liberia, for example, the number of cases reported to the UN was reduced by half from 2006 to 2007.

We have been successful in working with the UN to instigate policy changes aimed at preventing and tackling sexual exploitation and abuse. These include: a Victim's Assistance Strategy to provide assistance to survivors of sexual violence perpetrated by UN personnel; a more robust Model Memorandum of Understanding between the UN and Troop Contributing Countries; an upgraded Welfare and Recreation Strategy for peacekeeping and related personnel; and a resolution on ‘Criminal accountability of UN officials and experts on mission’.

The UK supports efforts to protect the world's most vulnerable children from sexual abuse. To further strengthen the UN's approach, the UK supported the UN Secretary-General's recent recommendation to include, where appropriate, child protection advisers within the mandates of peacekeeping missions. As an active member of the UN Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, we will continue to work to improve the effectiveness of existing UN monitoring, reporting and disciplinary mechanisms.

Through its Conflict Prevention programme, the UK also helps to train military personnel for peacekeeping operations. Good conduct and respect for human rights is an integral part of all training courses. The UK will continue to provide training on peace support operations for troops from other countries, which covers conduct and discipline, particularly the importance of protecting civilians in accordance with international law.