Sex Scandal Uncovered
The year 2004 was bad for the United Nations. Its credibility was shredded by the oil-for-food scandal. Some called for Secretary General Kofi Annan’s dismissal. Annan himself commented, “No doubt that this has been a particularly difficult year, and I am relieved that this annus horibilus is coming to an end” (International Herald Tribune, Dec. 22, 2004). Unfortunately for Annan, it appears that 2005 will usher in a new scandal, even as revelations about oil-for-food continue to pour out.
The latest scandal involves allegations of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: over 150 accusations of rape, child abuse, solicitation and other sexual crimes—70 in Bunia alone. Hundreds of images of child pornography involving Congolese children were found on the laptop of a French UN civilian working in Goma (Independent, London, January 11).
Despite an investigation, the UN’s own oversight agency says the problem is “serious and ongoing” (Associated Press, January 7). “It was clear that the investigation did not act as a deterrent for some of the troops, perhaps because they had not been made aware of the severe penalties for engaging in such conduct, nor had they seen any evidence of a negative impact on individual peacekeepers for such behavior,” the UN oversight agency report said (ibid.). More specifically, not one UN soldier has been charged, although the allegations in at least six cases have been fully substantiated! Rather, the report recommended that the countries that sent the peacekeepers take action. The UN itself has not held the perpetrators responsible.
Somewhat surprisingly, there has been very little reporting on this scandal. Compare the media coverage of this story to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. This is a glaring double standard.
Consider it: This story was first uncovered by an investigation in February 2004. Now, a year later, the problem continues unabated, and the media don’t seem to care. Had this been an American scandal, rest assured they would be demanding that someone be held accountable. As we saw throughout the banner year of 2004, however, the United Nations is accountable to no one.