UN hides own violations

The organization has ignored a number of accusations against it The United Nations recently disclosed that 69 cases of sexual abuse were opened against their peacekeepers in 10 different missions around the world. This is an increase in cases from the past year and the highest number of reported incidents of sexual assault since 2011. Most of the abuse accusations come from the Central African Republic, where last year one peacekeeper was publicly accused of abusing a 12-year-old girl in the nation’s capitol. Pregnancies have been reported in teenage victims as a result of the abuse. The response, however, is akin to slapping a child on the wrist for a tiny misdeed. Amidst strong words from the Secretary-General, some of the punishments for the peacekeepers involved include simple firings and suspensions.

What is just as contemptible, however, is the response from the United Nations toward those who reported the alleged abuses in the first place. Anders Kompass, a field operations director for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, reported incidents of sexual violation by French peacekeepers in the Central African Republic to French authorities. However, the head of the OHCHR at the time, Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad of Jordan, suspended Kompass when he discovered that the operations director had not elected to obtain approval from a superior officer before reporting the violations.Kompass’ suspension was found to be unlawful by an internal investigation.

The United Nations spent a reckless deal of time investigating whether Kompass had violated a bureaucratic barrier, when its resources would have served far more effectively investigating the abuses Kompass had circumvented the bureaucracy to report. The story of the abuses first broke in April, but Kompass was only cleared of any wrongdoing the January of this year. In that time, the United Nations spent roughly nine months in a campaign of defamation against Kompass. An independent panel formed to help determine Kompass’s guilt called the United Nations’ actions a “gross institutional failure.”

With the official number of reported cases now in the public eye, one can only wonder how many investigations were impeded by the need of the United Nations to properly determine the credibility of potential whistleblowers. This is not the first time the United Nations had attempted to discredit those reporting gross violations of human rights by an organization allegedly devoted to them. Kathryn Bolkovac, a peacekeeper in Bosnia, attempted to report what she claimed was sex trafficking under the eye of the United Nations and DynCorp, the military contractor that lent out employees to the peacekeeping mission in Bosnia. This was in 1999, and a tribunal ruled in her favor when she sued against DynCorp for unfair dismissal for reporting the abuse.

The response to the scandal was the United Nations sending some of the men involved in the mission home. There have been no prosecutions in regards to the Bolkovac case, and with a track record like that, it is a wonder whether the United Nations will properly court-martial those involved in the Central African Republic case.