Children’s Participation in Holding International Peacekeepers Accountable 7
was “psychological oppression.” 20 Notably, the usage of brute force, then, is not necessary to
fulfill the elements of the sex crime even of rape. The coercive circumstances exploited by
perpetrators of SEA of children could also include, the Bemba Gombo ICC tribunal held, “the
military presence of hostile forces among the civilian population.” 21 This is precisely the unstable
conflict or fragile post-conflict context in which international peacekeepers who commit acts of
SEA against children are likely to operate. Thus,
[C]oercive circumstances need not be evidenced by a show of physical force. Threats,
intimidation, extortion and other forms of duress which prey on fear or desperation may
constitute coercion, and coercion may be inherent in certain circumstances, such as armed
conflict…. (emphasis added.) 22
Therefore, the analysis here, which is informed in part by the views of the ICC on the
matter of coercive circumstances as an element of Rome Statute sexual crimes, 23 is that the victims
of international peacekeeper SEA can also include adolescents rather than being limited to only
younger children. 24 This given, at the very least, the coercive circumstances surrounding
international peacekeeping which in and of itself also precludes the possibility of genuine
(voluntary and informed) consent by the adolescent or younger child. In the context of this
discussion regarding SEA of children by international peacekeepers and the age of the “child”,
note also that the United Nations has set out, via the UN Secretary-General’s 2003 Bulletin, Special
Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, that:
3. 2 (b) Sexual activity with children (persons under the age of 18) is prohibited regardless
of the age of majority or age of consent locally. Mistaken belief in the age of a child is not
a defence (emphasis added). 25
The prohibition against SEA of children, as set out in the UN Special Measures 2003
Bulletin, was stipulated to apply to both UN staff, and to forces from troop contributing countries
(TCC), operating under the command and control of the UN:
2. 1 The present bulletin shall apply to all staff of the United
Nations, including staff of separately administered organs and
programmes of the United Nations.
2. 2 United Nations forces conducting operations under United
Nations command and control are prohibited from committing acts
of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse and have a particular duty
20 Gombo, supra note 17, at ¶ 102. See also Nicole Brigitte Maier, The Crime of Rape Under the Rome Statute of the
ICC: With a Special Emphasis on the Jurisprudence of the Ad Hoc Criminal Tribunals, AMSTERDAM L. F. 3( 2) 146,
148 (2011) http://amsterdamlawforum.org/article/viewFile/209/397.
21 Gombo, supra note 17, at ¶ 104.
22 See Prosecutor v. Akayesu, Case No. ICTR 96-4-T, Judgment, ¶ 688. (Sept. 2, 1998).
24 See Protection from Sexual Exploitation, supra note 11, at point 3. 2(b).