U.N. report: Sex exploitation by peacekeepers persists unacceptably

South Sudan is one of the countries with the largest number of allegations, a U.N. report says.

Story highlights

  • Prevalence of exploitation found in Haiti, Liberia, DRC, Sudan and South Sudan
  • "Transactional sex," or trading of favors for sex, is underreported, U.N. report says
  • Assistance for victims said to be poor, report says

(CNN)They are supposed to bring peace, stability and hope.

But too often, according to a U.N. report, international peacekeepers bring other things entirely -- sexual exploitation, the misuse of power and the abuse of children.
The report, issued last week, says that while the violations have diminished since 2010, too many international peacekeepers sexually exploit the people they are sent to protect.
    And more than a third of all allegations involve sex with minors.
    The report says, too, that evidence shows instances of "transactional sex" -- the trading of favors for sex, which is a misuse of power banned by the United Nations -- are common, and are generally underreported.
    The report was prepared by the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services.
    It shows that the largest number of allegations related to U.N. missions in Haiti, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sudan and South Sudan.
    In interviews in Haiti, 231 people admitted to "transactional sexual relationships" with U.N. mission personnel for various reasons, including a desire for education and a need for food and shelter.

    Enforcement left to individual countries

    And surveys the office conducted in Monrovia, the Liberian capital, showed that more than one-quarter of the women in the city between the ages of 18 and 30 had engaged in sex for money.
    Even when the abuse is reported, assistance to the victims is weak, the report says.
    "Very few victims have been assisted due to lack of dedicated funding and the slow enforcement process," the report says.
    Enforcement is left to the countries that contribute troops. For that reason, the report says, there is wide variation in the speed, uniformity and efficacy of enforcement.
    The report recommends various changes, including renegotiation of U.N. agreements with countries that contribute troops, developing a comprehensive strategy to help victims and reporting on whether commanders have fulfilled their responsibilities in preventing abuse.
    The United Nations does not ban all sexual relationships by members of missions to different countries. But sex with minors and sex in exchange for food, goods, services or money are banned. And sexual relations with beneficiaries of assistance are strongly discouraged.
      Sexual exploitation does considerable harm, the report says.
      "When it occurs -- as it does regularly -- it can not only damage and destroy the lives of victims, but also taint the reputations of individuals, even countries."