Whistleblower Protection as a Potential Piece of the Puzzle to End Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in UN Peacekeeping Operations

Detta är en Uppsats för yrkesexamina på avancerad nivå från Lunds universitet/Juridiska institutionen; Lunds universitet/Juridiska fakulteten

Sammanfattning: In 2014, Anders Kompass, a Swedish national working for the UN in Geneva, received a report of French peacekeepers exploiting and raping children in the Central African Republic (CAR). When Kompass handed over the report to France, in an attempt to stop the abuse, he was treated as a whistleblower and faced retaliation from the UN. The case of Anders Kompass is used as a case study to contextualize the two issues examined in this thesis: on the one hand the problem of sexual exploitation and abuse within the framework of UN peacekeeping operations, and on the other hand the treatment of persons reporting or taking action to end misconduct – i.e. whistleblowers. The purpose of this thesis is to examine whether and how UN whistleblower protection can be part of the measures needed to end sexual exploitation and abuse in UN peacekeeping operations. This is done by examining the international responsibility of the UN for these acts and the role of UN whistleblower protection in that responsibility. The instrument used to determine the responsibility of the UN is the International Law Commission’s (ILC) Draft Articles of Responsibility for International Organizations (ARIO). In establishing responsibility under ARIO, the act needs to be attributable to the UN and constitute a breach under international law. Three categories of peacekeepers are treated separately in this thesis. Attributability for the acts of the first two groups, UN staff and so-called experts – civilian police and military observers – is not difficult since they are considered organs and agents of the UN. The third group, consisting of UN military contingents, i.e. soldiers sent by UN Member States, is more complicated since the sending state retains some control and therefore some responsibility. Consequently, it needs to be determined if the acts are attributable to the UN or to the state. The determining factor is, in line with ARIO, who was exercising effective control over that specific conduct. Establishing responsibility for the acts of sexual exploitation and abuse is further complicated as these acts are typically taken in private capacity and are therefore not directly covered by ARIO. In addition to these aspects, the obligations of the UN relating to sexual exploitation and abuse are examined to find the second part of ARIO, namely a breach of international law. Finally, after a combined assessment, the general conclusion is that it is possible to establish responsibility of the UN for acts of sexual exploitation and abuse committed in UN peacekeeping operations, but that there are some hurdles on the way. After determining the international responsibility of the UN in these cases, the role of whistleblower protection is examined in the context of that responsibility. It is found that whistleblower protection affects the likelihood of people reporting injustices and that the act of reporting is a factor in sexual exploitation and abuse being addressed and prevented. Therefore, it is concluded in this thesis that whistleblower protection is part of the UN’s responsibility to address and prevent acts of sexual exploitation and abuse committed by peacekeepers and that the current protection for whistleblowers is insufficient.

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