Jayden van Leeuwen’s column on UN peacekeeping and its accounting to the global community raises some important issues that thematically fall within the Centre’s global security programme.
Jayden addresses the problem of sexual abuse by personnel in UN peacekeeping missions – and the ‘startling lack of accountability’ applied to contributing member states. The main barrier to accountability is the ‘legal status quo’ imposed by the Status of Forces Agreements under which individuals in UN missions are subject to the jurisdiction of the contributing State for any criminal offence committed in the host country.
As Jayden observes, the foundation of the UN system is state consent, so the UN can only pursue non-legal accountability, such as financial assistance to victims and support for whatever redress the contributing State decides, which is usually inadequate.
The UN itself acknowledges that it lacks ‘the authority or legal mandate to criminally prosecute individuals’, and can only refer allegations to the ‘relevant national authorities’ for action.