The United Nations, heavily subsidized by U.S. taxpayers’ dollars, has faced a widespread child sexual abuse problem for years and reacted with little more than silence.
On February 28, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres confirmed that UN peacekeepers and civilian staff faced 145 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse impacting on 311 victims in 2016 alone. There are nearly 40 cases so far in 2017. Many of the victims, by the UN’s own admission, are children.
As one 11-year-old child put it, “I didn’t have breasts yet, but he still raped me.” It is the one indefensible act. Child rape.
Even the UN recognises that these numbers, while huge, are likely to be the tip of the iceberg and represent only the crimes that have been reported, involving mainly just one part of the UN: Peacekeeping.
These numbers are a small proportion of the sex and child rape crimes committed by UN staff and peacekeepers over at least the last two decades. Neither the sex scandals of the UN in the Bosnian War dramatized in the 2010 film Whistleblower nor the long-running “Food for Sex” scandals of the early 2000s. are covered in these figures.
What is worse, decision makers have known this for years but have failed to crack down.
A Save the Children report over a decade ago found abuse at all age levels “from 8 to 18,” though the victims older than twelve were identified as being “regularly involved in ‘selling sex.’” The Save report went on to say that, among the children interviewed, “all of the respondents clearly stated that they felt that the scale of the problem affected over half of the girls in their locations.”
The outbreak of such heinous activity at the UN highlights just how vulnerable the victims are. Faced with legal safeguards in the United States and Western countries, evil men have found that it is easy to gain access to children in developing countries. People in power know this, so much so that since 1999 authorities have warned that problem of paedophiles in the aid world is on a level with sex tourism.
As Western countries have cracked down on paedophilia, many predatory paedophiles have targeted the developing world to find child victims. An easy way to gain access to children in the developing world is to join a children’s charity. It is disgusting, but logical once you are told.
UN officials know this, yet have failed to act decisively.
Of the accusations the UN lists on its own website, and of those that involve rape of a child, which the UN has investigated and shown to be “substantiated,” do you know how many have been reported back to authorities for prosecution?
None. Not a single one.
The UN uses legal and sovereign immunity claims to prevent prosecution. The UN chooses not to waive immunity and therefore uses this legal fiction to protect child rapists rather than the children.
For at least 20 years, the leadership of the UN has known and failed to effectively act. Former Secretary General Kofi Annan listed his failure to act on the paedophilia of UN staff in his ten years as Secretary General as one of his regrets, and immediate past Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has acknowledged not enough has been done.
People have been using soft words about paedophilia in the UN and large NGOs for decades. None of this is secret. None of this is surprising. But never has pressure been seriously applied for something to be done. The current Secretary General proposed a four-part strategy putting “the rights and dignity for victims at the forefront of UN efforts.”
“I fully recognize that no magic wand exists to end the problem of sexual exploitation and abuse,” Guterres said. “Nevertheless, I believe that we can dramatically improve how the United Nations addresses this scourge.”
“Dramatically improve” are weasel words. We should be stronger. We should stamp this out and we could start with the language.
For example, the UN used “sexual abuse” to describe the 14-year-old child, together with her 18-year-old friend, set upon by UN peacekeepers near Bambari Airport in Central African Republic late in 2015.
This is not “sexual abuse.” This is gang rape of a child. Call it for what it is.
Approximately 28 percent of UN peacekeeping operations, and a quarter of all UN operations, are funded by the United States’ taxpayer. The U.S. taxpayer is effectively funding child rape.
By withholding funds, the United States could stop the rape, yet no previous U.S. government has had the courage to say “Stop, no more.” It is time the U.S. government put an end to this.
It is time the U.S. government said to the UN: “fix the problem.” If the UN does not fix it, then the US should stop funding it. U.S. taxpayers should not fund child rape. It is that simple.
Professor Andrew MacLeod worked as an aid worker for the Red Cross in Yugoslavia and Rwanda in the 1990s and for the UN in Pakistan, Afghanistan as well as other locations in the 2000’s. His is a visiting Professor at King’s College, London, the Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellow at Deakin University in Australia, an affiliate to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC. He is the author of A Life Half Lived and can be followed on Twitter @AndrewMMacleod.