18 Children’s Legal Rights Journal [Vol. 38: 1 2018]
An independent panel, headed by former Canadian Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps,
investigated the UN’s and UNICEF’s handling of these SEA allegations in a report submitted to
the UN on December 17, 2015, and concluded that:
The manner in which UN agencies responded to the Allegations was seriously
flawed. The head of the UN mission in CAR failed to take any action to follow
up on the Allegations; he neither asked the Sangaris Forces to institute
measures to end the abuses, nor directed that the children be removed to safe
housing. He also failed to direct his staff to report the Allegations higher up
within the UN. Meanwhile, both UNICEF and UN human rights staff in CAR
failed to ensure that the children received adequate medical attention and
humanitarian aid, or to take steps to protect other potential victims identified
by the children who first raised the Allegations.
Instead, information about the Allegations was passed from desk to desk, inbox
to inbox, across multiple UN offices, with no one willing to take responsibility
to address the serious human rights violations. Indeed, even when the French
government became aware of the Allegations and requested the cooperation of
UN staff in its investigation, these requests were met with resistance and
became bogged down in formalities. 80
The Deschamps report suggests that, in large part, the inadequate response of the UN
officials to the allegations of SEA against children in CAR by particular members of certain UN
peacekeeping forces arose due to a “fundamental misperception by UN staff of the UN’s
obligations in responding to sexual violence by peacekeepers.” 81 The Deschamps report offers this
‘explanation’ for the UN’s lack of action to hold perpetrators accountable:
In the course of the Review it became clear that in the eyes of many UN staff,
the human rights framework does not apply to allegations of sexual violence by
peacekeepers [military troops and affiliated civilian personnel from Troop
Contributing Countries (TCC)]. As a result, where there is an allegation that a
peacekeeper not operating under UN command has sexually assaulted a civilian
(and the SEA Policies do not apply), some UN staff take the view that the UN
has no obligation, or indeed authority, to address the reported sexual violence. 82
Under more recent measures, the UN may investigate the allegations if the TCC is unwilling to
investigate or has not reported to the UN on progress in any investigation in a timely fashion. 83
80 Id. at i.
81 Id. at iii.
82 Deschamps, supra note 6, at iii. See also Report of an Independent Review on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by
International Peacekeeping Forces in the Central African Republic, U.N. Doc. A/71/99, at 4 (June 23, 2016).
83 UNITED NATIONS, FACT SHEET ON SEXUAL EXPLOITATION AND ABUSE, http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping
/documents/2015factsheet.pdf (last updated Sep. 3, 2015) [hereinafter Fact Sheet].