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UNaccountable: a new approach to peacekeepers and sexual abuse

Freedman, R. (2018) UNaccountable: a new approach to peacekeepers and sexual abuse. European Journal of International Law, 29 (3). pp. 961-985. ISSN 1464-3596

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1093/ejil/chy039


The appointment of a new United Nations Secretary-General brings new opportunities to address issues that have beset the Organisation over recent decades. A priority in that regard should be accountability for harms caused within peacekeeping. This issue has received significant attention over recent years, with the close scrutiny of cholera in Haiti and lead poisoning in Kosovo being just two examples. While legal scholarship in recent years has focused on how to reform UN accountability, particularly in relation to the Haiti Cholera Claims, there have been fewer proposals on how to address crimes committed by UN peacekeepers. One of the most serious of those crimes, in terms of harms caused both to victims and to legitimacy of UN peacekeeping operations, is sexual abuse. Yet the proposals for addressing that issue largely have not been successful. To that end, this article – which is exploratory in nature – sets out why there is a need for a wholescale reform of how we approach accountability for peacekeepers who perpetrate sexual abuse, explaining particularly how the problems relate to laws and normative frameworks, and to investigations and prosecutions. The article then proposes elements that might be considered in a new victim-centred approach, namely criminal justice; truth and reconciliation; human rights; and political processes.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Law
ID Code:75656
Publisher:Oxford University Press


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