The Magazine

The U.N. Sex Scandal

From the January 3 / January 10, 2005 issue: Exploitation, abuse, and other humanitarian efforts.

Jan 3, 2005, Vol. 10, No. 16 • By JOSEPH LOCONTE
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That's prompting tough talk from some U.S. officials about American assistance for U.N. peacekeeping missions. The United States will give $490 million next year to support about 62,000 military personnel and civilian police serving in 16 U.N. operations around the world. "Until the U.N. is willing to take decisive action and take responsibility for these acts, we should look seriously at the funding portion of the peace-keeping operations," says a foreign policy aide to Kansas Republican Sam Brownback, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee. "I don't know any other way to force Annan to pay attention."

This latest U.N. episode, piled on top of the ongoing Oil for Food scandal in Iraq, may help focus the mind. The sexual abuses committed, or ignored, by U.N. personnel violate the institution's Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A 2002 U.N. report characterized the sexual exploitation issue as "a betrayal of trust as well as a catastrophic failure of protection."

Peacekeepers as predators? It's difficult to see how another U.N. probe, proclamation, or committee report could reverse that perception anytime soon.

Joseph Loconte is the William E. Simon Fellow in Religion at the Heritage Foundation and editor of The End of Illusions: Religious Leaders Confront Hitler's Gathering Storm.