Children’s Participation in Holding International Peacekeepers Accountable 5
. . . the term “sexual exploitation” means any actual or attempted abuse of a position of
vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to,
profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another.
Similarly, the term “sexual abuse” means the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a
sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions (emphasis
The aforementioned UN definition of sexual victimization, as discussed below, overlaps with the
approach of various international criminal courts and tribunals, such as the International Criminal
Court (ICC) and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). 13 Specifically, the latter also
hold that sexual violence and/or victimization can occur in various situations that are coercive,
involve psychological oppression and/or abuse of power and where there is a differential power
imbalance between victim and perpetrators, even when brute force is not used to affect the sexual
The term ‘children’ refers here to all persons under the age of eighteen, whether child
civilians or child soldiers. 15 This is in recognition of the special vulnerability of this group (persons
under eighteen) to victimization including potentially also by international peacekeepers. The
latter have tremendously greater authority and power than do the children, especially in the
unstable jurisdiction in which the children live and to which the peacekeepers have been deployed.
That differential power arises in part by virtue of the international peacekeepers’ status and role.
The very fact that international peacekeepers are adults with inherently greater potential to
manipulate the situation to serve an illicit personal agenda, if they so wish, also contributes to the
disparity in power that can lay the groundwork for possible SEA of the child. 16 Thus, while Article
12 U.N. Secretary-General, Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse ¶ 2, U.N. Doc.
ST/SGB/2003/13 (Oct. 9, 2003) [hereinafter Protection from Sexual Exploitation]. See also Stephanie Matti,
Governing sexual behavior through humanitarian codes of conduct, 39 DISASTERS 626, 627 (Oct. 2015); Task Team
on the SEA Glossary for the Special Coordinator, U.N. GLOSSARY ON SEXUAL EXPLOITATION AND ABUSE, (Oct. 5,
13 See Prosecutor v. Akayesu, Case No. ICTR 96-4-T, Judgment, ¶ 688 (Sept. 2, 1998),
http://unictr.unmict.org/sites/unictr.org/files/case-documents/ictr-96-4/trial-judgements/en/980902.pdf; See also
Office of the ICC Prosecutor, Policy Paper on Sexual and Gender Violence (June 2014),
oppressive environment is also reflected by a cultural context in effect in large part neglectful of the suffering of the
SEA victims and resigned in practice to the erroneous notion of UN peacekeeper SEA of civilians as supposedly
inescapable and expected.). See United Nations Press Release 23 February, 2006 Problem of sexual abuse by
peacekeepers now openly recognized, broad strategy in place to address it Security Council told,
http://www.un.org/press/en/2006/sc8649.doc.htm (last visited Feb, 24, 2018) (“It was difficult to change a culture of
dismissiveness, long developed “within ourselves, in our own countries and in the mission areas”).
14 See id.
15 For a discussion of the contentious notion of ‘child soldier,’ see Sonja Grover, Child soldiers as victims of ‘genocidal
forcible transfer’: Darfur and Syria as case examples, 17 INT’L J. OF HUM. RTS. 411 (2013); Sonja C. Grover, CHILD
SOLDIER VICTIMS OF GENOCIDAL FORCIBLE TRANSFER: EXONERATING CHILD SOLDIERS CHARGED WITH GRAVE
CONFLICT-RELATED INTERNATIONAL CRIMES (2012); Sonja Grover, ‘Child Soldiers’ as ‘Non-Combatants’: The
Inapplicability of the Refugee Convention Exclusion Clause, 12 INT’L J. OF HUM. RTS. 53, 54 (2008).
16 See e.g. Sonja Grover, On Power Differentials and Children’s Rights: A Dissonance Interpretation of the Rind and
Associates (1998) Study on Child Sexual Abuse, 5 ETHICAL HUM. SCI. & SERV. 21 (2003); Sonja Grover, Co-opting