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March 25, 2005

Cleaning House on UN Sex Scandals
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

Really interesting piece this morning about a new report from the UN on what to do about the problem of sexual abuse by peacekeepers.  Recommendations are hard-hitting and right on target:  they require tough punishments by home countries, digorgements of payments for the offenders' peacekeeping services, support for babies born to peacekeepers, assistance for victims of abuse and incentives for compliance with the system. 

Most of the credit for this goes to the Jordanian Ambassador to the UN, Prince Zeid Raad al Hussein, long one of the most assertive, open-minded and effective diplomats in the UN system.  He totally "gets it" and the report is a powerful illustration of what can be accomplished at the UN by working with enlightened representatives from the developing world.  Since it is overwhelmingly poorer nations that contribute troops to UN peacekeeping operations, it was essential that this issue not be tasked to a group of Western experts to handle.  Annan put it in the right hands, and Zeid has delivered. 

Zeid is also politically savvy.  While the article does not say this, he spent time several weeks ago on Capital Hill making the rounds to build support for his report and instill confidence that the UN is doing what's needed to address this scandal.  Those efforts will prepare the ground for a positive response, helping to rebuild trust between Washington and Turtle Bay.  Now it is up to the UN membership to adopt and police his recommendations.  If that works, this process could be an excellent blueprint for tackling other problems at the organization.


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Sexual abuse transcends agencies, sects and sectors. Tsk.

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