The University of Queensland's Dr. Melanie O'Brien has written a tough and timely piece about peacekeeper misconduct for Opinio Juris. Here's an excerpt:
SEA [sexual exploitation and abuse] by peacekeepers is a human rights violation (or rather, it violates many human rights). It is termed ‘misconduct’, but let’s stop calling it that and minimising the behaviour. It is criminal conduct, and states must take action to eliminate these crimes. Punishment of criminal conduct is a crucial component of preventive justice. Firstly, States must ensure they have the legislative means to prosecute their personnel. This means having the substantive law that covers this particular conduct; many states lack the specific provisions to prosecute sexual exploitation of adults. States must enact such legislative provisions, which reflect the imbalance in power dynamic between the peacekeeper and victims, and the exchange in goods/services/money that takes place. These provisions must include appropriate and proportionate punishment. In memoranda of understanding to contribute personnel, states must guarantee they will carry out investigation and prosecution using the proper provisions (as opposed to minor offences). States also need to establish extra-territorial application of the substantive law. Once these capabilities are in place, the sending state must make very clear to its personnel that commission of crimes will not be allowed to take place with impunity. A demonstration of action by states will contribute to prevention of peacekeeper SEA.
The UN and its member states champion the rule of law and human rights in states in the midst of conflict or in post-conflict disarray. We need the UN and its member states to practice what they preach.H/T to Global Military Justice Reform contributor Susan Finder for the link to this important essay.