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Ban Ki-moon: To end rape, clean house

— Code Blue Campaign addresses three new allegations of sexual abuse by MINUSCA peacekeepers in the Central African Republic

August 19, 2015 — The ongoing crisis of peacekeeper sexual abuse in the Central African Republic (CAR) is clearly out of control. Today’s announcement of three more reported rapes is a shocking commentary on the inability of the UN to bring the sexual violence to an end.

AIDS-Free World’s Code Blue Campaign drew global attention to this deplorable saga, and to top UN officials’ 9-month effort to keep it hidden, when we released a leaked UN report on the sexual abuse of young boys in CAR to The Guardian in April. The world was outraged. Three and a half months have passed. No arrests have been made. Another child, this time a 12-year-old girl, was raped early this month. And now today, an additional three. New revelations proliferate.

So do the questions.

If the rapes announced today were reported to the peacekeeping mission, MINUSCA, on August 12th, how is it possible that the Secretary-General said not a word in his speech to the Security Council on the afternoon of the 13th? Is this yet another terrible lapse in internal communications, or an ongoing attempt to keep information from governments and the public?

Further, why is the UN governed by an outdated Memorandum of Understanding with Troop Contributing Countries that builds unforgivable delays into every case? Once informed that their peacekeepers have been accused, a Troop Contributing Country is given ten working days to decide whether it will conduct its own investigation. The Secretary-General must assert that instantaneous action is imperative in all cases of sexual exploitation and abuse. To use the Secretary-General’s own words: “Enough is enough.” It’s time to abandon foot-dragging protocols that give the advantage to the predators.

Most important of all, isn’t this torrent of reported rapes emerging from just one country evidence enough of an incredible failure of leadership in New York? What is going on within the Department of Peacekeeping Operations? How many more times must we hear Ban Ki-moon express shame, and the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping say nothing at all, before scrutiny is directed where it belongs — at the top?

The time has come for a wholesale housecleaning of officials throughout the UN system. It is unforgivable that the reputation of international peacekeepers and the UN itself are put at risk by the incompetence at the center.  Since the Secretary-General invoked the image of a ‘cancer’ metastasizing throughout the United Nations, Member States must take that metaphor to its logical conclusion: excise the tumor.    


AIDS-Free World is an international advocacy organization that exposes injustice, abuse and inequality. We apply high-level advocacy, targeted legal strategies and creative communication to work for a more just world. We launched the Code Blue campaign to end immunity for sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeeping personnel.

(Photo: UN Photo/Sylvain Liechti)