Tag Archives: security

Statement on UN Peacekeepers involved in sexual abuses in Côte d’Ivoire

WILPF International issued the following statement on UN peacekeepers involvement in sexual abuses in Côte d’Ivoire.

There is academic research, literature, documentaries, recently the film the Whistleblower, and most pertinently, the accounts of women in countries which experience conflict, all of which document the link between militarization and the sexual exploitation of women, including through trafficking. The UN and those who occupy on humanitarian grounds are part of this militarization and it is foreseeable that without effective regulation, investigation, prosecution and punishment, then a climate of impunity for crimes committed against women and girls will prevail.

In the case of Côte d’Ivoire it seems that the lack of these procedures has again lead to the commission of acts of serious sexual violence against women and young girls. The disclosure by Wikileaks of a US embassy cable citing sexual exploitation by troops from Benin, proves again the vital role that must be played by civil society in ensuring that the such conduct is exposed. It was civil society organizations and an international civil servant principled enough to stand up for what was right, which exposed similar crimes being committed by Moroccan Peace keepers in 2007. The outcome of that expose was an apology from the Secretary General of the UN to the Moroccan government! This time the UN has been a little more robust, but within its own lights and policies; there was a year long investigation, perpetrators were identified, some 16 soldiers, of which 10 were in command positions, were sent home in April and are barred from serving in the UN. As a UN spokesman stated, the commanders failed to maintain an environment that prevents sexual exploitation and abuse.

The question must be asked, however, as to how, given the experience of Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, Liberia, Chad, Haiti, to name but a few, the ultimate sanction for those who aid, abet and commit acts of rape is simply to be repatriated. It is possible that they could face criminal charges in their home country, but how many actually do? If this had happened in time of conflict then these acts would fall to be considered as war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture. Simply by changing the nomenclature from combatant to peacekeeper, the sanction is changed from criminal to administrative with no real accountability.

A random poll of ten underage girls in Toulepleu Côte d’Ivoire by Save The Children U.K. in 2009 found that eight performed sexual acts for Benin peacekeepers on a regular basis in order to secure their most basic needs. “Eight of the ten said they had ongoing sexual relationships with Beninese soldiers in exchange for food or lodging,” whilst not conclusive as to the extent of the abuse it is indicative. The UN says that there have been 42 complaints since 2007 but nothing this year but this is to cling to false indicators. Women are unlikely to make a complaint when they are dependent on those they are complaining about, its how the system works. Abuse of authority and position of power will ensure that the indicator of complaints received will never give realistic assessments as to the extent and nature of the problem.

The UN must re-think how it ensures compliance with international law. There have been strong developments under human rights law as to how that applies in situations of occupation and humanitarian crisis. The UN should embrace these and develop effective measures to ensure implementation. These should include changes to the ostensible zero tolerance policy. As to believe that this will prevent abuse without a fundamental cultural shift in how men relate to women in conflict is naïve. Change the way the UN interprets functional immunity which at present is not in accordance with international law and facilitates impunity. Demand screening of all personnel recruited and ensure that there are binding agreements with Troop Contributing Countries as to their responsibilities to train, monitor, investigate and prosecute offenders. There should also be strict reporting obligations to the UN on actions taken and the UN itself should ensure that no troops will be accepted unless measures are in place and are demonstrably adhered to.

These are small steps in real terms and would represent only a beginning, a small start to address an issue which has for far too long been considered of little import to the big picture of keeping peace between men!

The .pdf version of this statement can be found here.

New Resource From Reaching Critical Will

Reaching Critical Will, a WILPF project, has published Costs, risks, and myths of nuclear power: NGO world-wide study on the implications of the catastrophe at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station.

The report is the collaborative work of non-governmental researchers, scientists, and activists. It was released on 11 September 2011, six months after the disaster at Fukushima and in advance of the high-level meeting on nuclear safety and security that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will convene at the United Nations on 22 September. Its release is also timed to coincide with the UN system-wide study of the implications of Fukushima commissioned by Ban.

Inspired by the UN Secretary-General’s call for a global debate on nuclear energy, Reaching Critical Will, a project of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, coordinated an international civil society study in order to provide non-government perspectives of the range of issues related to nuclear power. This report includes civil society analysis of nuclear power infrastructure and government policies from around the world. It also articulates arguments against the common myths of nuclear power in its relationship to safety, the environment, renewable energy, climate change, economics, and more.

Edited by Ray Acheson 

Download the full report

Global Day of Action on Military Spending

The Global Day of Action on Military Spending on Tuesday 12 April 2011 is an effort to mobilize people all over the world in joint action against excessive military spending which threatens human security; rather than purchasing arms, governments could support humanitarian efforts to address global crises.

Co-sponsored by The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and organised by the International Peace Bureau and the Institute of Policy Studies, the event is designed to build awareness and an international network to address this issue.

UK WILPF President, Pat Pleasance says, ‘It is imperative that we have international joint action to address the inhumane excessive military spending by major world governments. Since 1915, WILPF has worked to promote peace and justice, but high military costs promote war and global instability. It is time that we take a stand against this.’

The UK Section of WILPF currently supports the ‘Human Security not Military Security’ campaign, WILPF has been advocating an end to excessive military spending for years and supported the 16 days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign. This campaign examined military expenditures of some of the world’s biggest countries and called for a shift in global priorities to achieve sustainable development, gender equality and peace.