Perverting peacekeeping: the organisational accountability of the United Nations for sexual exploitation and abuse on peacekeeping operations

2017-02-23T02:11:57Z (GMT) by Nguyen, Athena Mai-Tram
Allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) have plagued peacekeeping operations for over a decade. Despite the United Nations (UN) extensive efforts to address the problem, acts of SEA continue to occur and cause great harm to victims and survivors, to the success of the peacekeeping operation, and to the reputation and credibility of the UN. Whilst the responsibility of the alleged perpetrator and of the State from which the perpetrator came have been considered in the literature, an area that has received less attention is the legal responsibility of the UN. In this thesis, this area of responsibility will be examined. The question will be asked: how can the organisational accountability of the UN be established for acts of SEA committed on its peacekeeping operations? To answer this question, this thesis will consider: first, whether acts of SEA are prohibited under international law and, therefore, whether these acts are a violation of international law; second, whether international organisations, such as the UN, have any obligations under international law; and, if so, if and how the UN may be held accountable for failing to uphold its obligations. In this thesis, it will be argued that the best international legal framework for the prohibition of acts of SEA is international human rights law. However, an analysis of the current legal system will demonstrate that it is difficult to hold the UN to account due to limitations in the personal and subject-matter jurisdiction of international, regional, and domestic judicial bodies. The unique contribution of this thesis will be to offer an alternative solution to establishing the organisational accountability of the UN. It will be proposed that the UN treaty bodies should be empowered with the competency to consider communications from individuals alleging a violation of their human rights through acts of SEA by UN personnel. The arguments presented in this thesis will outline: why the communications procedures of the UN treaty bodies are an effective process through which to resolve allegations of SEA; the legal and procedural changes that are needed to establish this process; the benefits for individual survivors, the UN, and the international community; and why this proposal is an effective, pragmatic, and economical solution to the problem of ensuring the organisational accountability of the UN for acts of SEA committed on its peacekeeping operations.