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December 16, 2004
UN Report: Massive Sexual Abuse By Peacekeepers In Congo

The United Nations has received a report from its own investigators detailing years of sexual abuse, extortion, and bribery in its own peacekeeping operation in Congo. Just as in other major operations conducted by the UN over the past decade, corruption and a lack of accountability has allowed the victims of genocidal dictatorships to be victimized again and repeatedly by the very organization that purports to champion them:

The 34-page report, which was obtained by The Washington Post, accuses U.N. peacekeepers from Morocco, Pakistan and Nepal of seeking to obstruct U.N. efforts to investigate a sexual abuse scandal that has damaged the United Nations' standing in Congo.

The report documents 68 cases of alleged rape, prostitution and pedophilia by U.N. peacekeepers from Pakistan, Uruguay, Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa and Nepal. U.N. officials say they have uncovered more than 150 allegations of sexual misconduct throughout the country as part of a widening investigation into sexual abuse by U.N. personnel that has plagued the United Nations' largest peacekeeping mission, U.N. officials said.

"Sexual exploitation and abuse, particularly prostitution of minors, is widespread and long-standing," says a draft of the internal July report, which has not previously been made public. "Moreover, all of the major contingents appear to be implicated."

The UK newspaper Independent uncovered these allegations back in the spring, when they first reported on the ongoing prostitution and sexual extortion at the UN facilities. Seven months later, the UN has just gotten around to kicking out one official, and that only because he continued to associate openly with prostitutes even while the investigators worked on the case. The peacekeepers themselves still remain, along with their commanders who allow this conduct to occur.

Will anyone be held accountable for these atrocities -- as even the UN defines them? No, because the UN has no enforcement authority over the troops. All that Turtle Bay can do is to send them home. However, the UN hasn't even held its own people accountable for this catastrophe and has dragged its feet while more women and children get raped and forced to submit to sexual demands simply to eat enough to stay alive.

Why doesn't the member-nations of the UN hold its leadership accountable for these managerial and moral incompetencies, to put it as mildly as possible? Probably because most of the member nations see nothing wrong with the activities in the Congolese camps. The dictatorships and kleptocracies in the General Assemblies operate in much the same manner within their own countries and will not be in any hurry to condemn the practice elsewhere. It's one of the reasons that Kofi Annan has survived in office well beyond any reasonable Western expectations. Far from being an embarrassment to the twisted, murderous governments that form his political base, his incompetency protects them from any effective reform efforts.

The UN has transformed itself into a complete catastrophe for any who are unfortunate enough to gain its attention for humanitarian assistance. Too often that results in mass extermination (Srebrenica) or mass exploitation (Congo). It's far past time for Western democracies to construct a parallel organization that actually upholds the notions of accountability. If the UN won't clean its house, then we should build another one.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 16, 2004 6:35 AM

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