Naming Offending Countries?

According to Reuters, U.N. officials are finally acknowledging that sexual assault by peacekeepers is not limited to African missions such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Ivory Coast. A recent examination revealed that widespread allegations of sexual exploitation have emerged in all *sixteen missions* worldwide.
In an attempt to address the issue, the U.N. is now threatening to expel countries that refuse to prosecute its offending soldiers. U.S. State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher, said that the U.S. would consider supporting the move. He also noted that, “We have worked very carefully with the U.N. to try to get them to…make sure that in fact prevention becomes a top priority for U.N. peacekeeping operations and troop contributors.” While I’m glad that the U.S. is willing to back the effort, I’d say that we still have a lot of work left to do with our own soldiers in combat.
Overall, I think this is a *really* important step for the U.N. to take. Since the U.N. does not have jurisdiction over foreign soldiers, it can only demand that a country prosecute their offenders at home. With such limited power, naming countries that refuse to address sexual assault by their soldiers, and requiring them to leave the mission is probably the most pragmatic step the U.N. can take.
While this, of course, would then create new problems–mainly, who would take the place of these soldiers–I still think that it has the potential to create change. Being named as a country that refuses to prosecute its rapists never makes for good international PR. And for many developing countries, there are *big* economic incentives for being a part of a mission (i.e. soldiers earn significantly more working for the U.N. than they could at home). In any case, I think it’s worth a try.
U.N. undersecretary-general for peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guehenno, noted that, “The whole issue of the professionalism of peacekeeping is at stake.” Yeah. Well, that and the lives of the hundreds of women and children who are the victims of these assaults.

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