Children’s Participation in Holding International Peacekeepers Accountable 23
…many countries provide for the trial of military officers and personnel by
military tribunals for offenses committed within the context of military duties.
These courts might be difficult to access for private individuals and are not
particularly suitable for trying sexual offenses.108
The former UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, in certain “special measures” recommendations,
suggested that military peacekeeping contingents participating in UN peacekeeping operations set
up “on-site” court martial proceedings in the host country that is, in the country where allegations
of SEA or other crimes have been credibly raised against certain of the TCC’s peacekeeping force-contingent members.109 On-site court martial by the TCC is a notion intended to ensure better
accountability for SEA and other crimes perpetrated by peacekeepers while participating in a UN
peacekeeping operation in a host country. This recommendation arises in that TCCs have rarely
adequately held their accused peacekeeper nationals accountable for alleged crimes once
repatriated. Even if on-site court martial was feasible in what are often volatile conflict or post-conflict situations, again, the child victims would normally not testify at the proceedings given, in
part, the lack of legal assistance and support available to them currently to do so, and fear of
reprisal. In fact, such court martial proceedings in-theatre may arguably further jeopardize the
safety of the child SEA victims. This is due to ( i) the conceivable risks of reprisal by certain of the
child’s own community members ( i.e. if and where the community members tragically blame the
child victims, based on cultural traditions, for the children being victims of peacekeeper SEA
and/or retaliation due to fear by community members that there will be withdrawal of the
peacekeeping forces if the child’s SEA allegations are heard); or (ii) risks posed by any particular
persons with a vested interest of some sort to seek to intimidate and pressure the children to retract
their SEA allegations against the international peacekeepers accused or to not lodge the allegations
of peacekeeper SEA in the first instance. 110 Thus the children, once again, would most likely only
participate in an investigative interview(s) by the UN, allied NGO, and/or military investigators,
too often cursory, as to the alleged SEA facts.
108 Muna Ndulo, The United Nations Responses to the Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Women and Girls by
Peacekeepers During Peacekeeping Missions, 27 BERKELEY J. INT’L L. 127, 153 (2009).
109 Press Release, Security Council, Repatriation of Commanders, Units among Steps to Tackle Sexual Exploitation,
Abuse by Peacekeepers, Secretary-General Tells Security Council, U.N. Press Release SC/12274 (Mar. 10, 2016).
(“Stressing that Member States must bring to justice those who committed crimes while serving with the United
Nations, he said he had asked them to establish on-site court martial proceedings and to ensure that their nationals
serving in peace operations were subject to their respective domestic sex-crime laws”) (emphasis added).
110 Ndulo, supra note 107, at 159 (regarding discrimination against women and girls that serves to perpetuate SEA
and impunity in conflict zones); see also The Power These Men Have Over Us: Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by
African Union Forces in Somalia, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH 1, 28 (Sept. 2014),
https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/somalia0914_4up.pdf; see also Jenna Stern, Reducing Sexual
Exploitation and Abuse in UN Peacekeeping, STIMSON 1, 10 (Feb. 2015),
(“Many victims face stigmatization and ostracism from their families and communities if they report instances of
sexual abuse. Victims may also fear retaliation by the perpetrator, who in some cases carries a weapon. In countries
where peacekeeping missions operate, there may be general mistrust of authority where the state’s own law
enforcement is corrupt and ineffective... Many victims consider reporting to be futile because they believe the
peacekeeping mission will believe the perpetrator’s word over the victim’s.”).