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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

VIII. Efforts By International Peacekeepers

Trafficking in Persons Report
Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
June 5, 2006

In response to a Congressional mandate, the following section summarizes actions taken by some key international organizations to eliminate trafficking in persons (TIP) and sexual exploitation from their ranks. The vast majority of personnel performing peacekeeping missions conduct themselves honorably, but many cases of sexual exploitation have been documented. Young women and girls are left traumatized, infected with HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, or pregnant as a result.

International organizations and governments should uphold the highest standards of conduct for personnel involved in peacekeeping or humanitarian missions. Pursuant to Congressional mandate, following is a summary of how key international organizations are responding to this crisis of criminal irresponsibility and degradation.


The United Nations was forced to undertake drastic measures to overhaul its system of monitoring gross abuses by its military and civilian personnel in light of 150 allegations of sexual exploitation on the part of peacekeepers stationed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (known at the UN as MONUC). In October 2004, the UN Secretary General dispatched a team to MONUC headed by Jordan's Permanent Representative to the UN, Prince Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, to conduct an assessment of the magnitude of the problem among the 11,000 UN soldiers and 1,200 civilians serving there. In its internal report, the team concluded there was "zero compliance with zero tolerance," referring to the official policy of zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse. The instances involved rape in some cases, and prostitution with children and adult women for money (between $1-$3), food, or jobs. After some peacekeepers raped girls, they tried to disguise it as prostitution by giving them money or food.

The team also concluded that there was little awareness of UN standards of conduct, inadequate recreational facilities for soldiers, and protracted periods of separation for personnel from their families and communities—factors that contribute to a climate of exploitation.


In response to a major scandal involving humanitarian personnel at a refugee camp in West Africa in 2002, the UN Secretary General issued a bulletin in 2003 entitled "Special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse." In the bulletin, sexual exploitation and abuse are characterized as acts of serious misconduct and are grounds for disciplinary action, including dismissal. It prohibits sexual activity with children under 18 years of age and with any other beneficiaries of assistance; it prohibits use of money, employment, goods, or services in exchange for sexual favors. United Nations staff is obligated to report misconduct or suspicious activities. Heads of department, office, or mission are responsible for undertaking necessary prevention measures and taking action to address any allegations of misconduct. Evidence of misconduct can be forwarded to national authorities for criminal prosecution. The UN can terminate any cooperative agreements with non-UN entities or individuals found to be violating this policy. The Secretary General's Special Advisor on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by UN Peacekeeping Personnel, Prince Zeid, recommended this bulletin be part of the required standards of conduct for troops and that these standards be incorporated in Memoranda of Understanding between the United Nations and each troop-contributing country. In June 2005, the UN General Assembly broadened Prince Zeid's recommendation to make it applicable to all peacekeeping personnel.


The UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) has a basic training module covering sexual exploitation and abuse, the UN's zero-tolerance policy, individual responsibilities, and the consequences of sexual misconduct. The training is mandatory for all UN personnel and is provided upon arrival at mission. Last October, DPKO distributed the module to troop-contributing countries for use in pre-deployment training. DPKO is not able to certify whether countries are using this training module. Two additional training modules are in development for mid-level managers and senior officials, respectively. DPKO developed a code of conduct video that has been translated into 10 languages and was distributed to troop-contributing countries.

Discipline and Accountability

Since early 2004, the UN conducted investigations involving 296 personnel, resulting in the repatriation of 137 military personnel, including six military commanders, and the dismissal of 17 civilians and 16 police. Most of these cases occurred at UN missions in Africa. The UN is amending its staff regulations and contractual agreements to classify sexual exploitation and abuse as serious misconduct and to allow the Secretary General to discipline and dismiss personnel. The UN is revising performance appraisals of managers and commanders in light of these regulations. Military personnel assigned to international peacekeeping missions are also subject to disciplinary action by their governments. The UN's Office of Internal Oversight services (OIOS) assumed the lead for investigating all sexual exploitation and abuse allegations.

DPKO has established conduct and discipline units at its headquarters and eight missions to prevent misconduct, to enforce the UN standards of conduct, and to coordinate with OIOS. DPKO is currently negotiating a draft model memorandum of understanding with troop-contributing countries that, among other provisions, lays out the responsibilities of the UN and the relevant countries with regard to preventing sexual exploitation and abuse, investigating cases of misconduct, disciplining personnel, and compensating victims. This document will probably take many months to finalize, considering 190 nations are involved, and considering the lengthy UN bureaucratic process.

Thus, it may take months or even years before an effective measure is put into practice. A group of legal experts appointed by the Secretary General has finalized its recommendations on how to ensure UN staff and experts on mission are not exempt from the consequences of criminal acts committed at their duty station, nor unjustly penalized. A new group of legal experts is being convened to determine whether the Secretary General's 2003 bulletin can bind troop contingent members prior to concluding the revised Memoranda of Understanding with troop-contributing countries. There is no victim compensation program, although the December 2005 draft of the model memorandum contains strong provisions on this issue. Rules do exist requiring UN staff to honor court orders for child support payments. However, we have no information demonstrating this has been implemented in sexual exploitation and abuse cases.

Follow-on Action

Prince Zeid's report and subsequent comments by the Secretary General have provoked many proposals to bolster the United Nations' control over sexual exploitation. The United States Government generally supports these measures and will work with the UN Secretariat, and within the Security Council, to implement recommendations that are effective and consistent with U.S. law and regulations. The following are the most promising, albeit difficult, proposals to implement:

  • Set up a UN DPKO monitoring mechanism to certify that troop-contributing countries have completed pre-deployment training on the UN's zero-tolerance policy.
  • Issue an annual report from the Secretary General to the Security Council on the status of investigations and disciplinary actions taken by the UN and the affected troop contributing countries.
  • Finalize, without delay, a model memorandum of understanding between the UN and troop-contributing countries laying out the responsibilities of the UN and the troop-contributing countries to prevent trafficking, sexual exploitation, and abuse.
  • Ensure OIOS investigators have the requisite skills, training, and experience to investigate sexual crimes, especially when the victims are children.
  • Monitor, regularly, remote areas where peacekeepers are assigned to ensure compliance with the zero-tolerance policy.

All troop-contributing countries have a responsibility to undertake serious measures to prevent and punish any incidences of trafficking, sexual exploitation, and abuse by personnel regardless of whether prostitution is regulated or tolerated in the troop-contributing country. Such measures may include but are not limited to:

    • Reviewing national laws and regulations to allow nationals participating in international peacekeeping or humanitarian missions to be punished or court martialed for engaging in trafficking, prostitution, sexual exploitation, or abuse in a foreign country that has criminalized these activities.
    • Assigning national investigative officers or investigative entities to coordinate, as appropriate, with the OIOS on investigations involving its nationals.
    • Performing background checks of military and civilian personnel to ensure they do not have a prior criminal record.
    • Assessing military commanders or civilian managers' performance in creating a climate of responsibility among subordinates at peacekeeping or humanitarian missions. This is a key component in preventing abuses.
    • Increasing number of women military and civilian peacekeepers, including in management positions.
    • Conducting mandatory pre-deployment training on anti-trafficking, sexual exploitation, and abuse policies.
    • Providing decent welfare and recreation facilities for national contingents at the missions and promoting organized intramural activities for peacekeepers during off-duty hours. Some national contingents living in squalid conditions have limited recreation facilities.
    • Encouraging military leadership to collect and maintain DNA samples of military personnel prior to deployment to international peacekeeping missions in the event allegations of sexual misconduct are made against its personnel.
    • Providing compensation to victims, including child support payments.



In June 2004, NATO member states and 19 partner nations adopted a Policy to Combat Trafficking in Persons. The provisions include a commitment for each country to: review its national legislation; ratify and implement the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and its supplementary protocol on trafficking in persons; conclude bilateral and multilateral agreements to prevent and counter human trafficking; provide appropriate antitrafficking training to all personnel taking part in NATO-led operations; support host country authorities in anti-trafficking investigations; incorporate contractual provisions prohibiting contractors from engaging in trafficking and impose penalties for failure to comply; and evaluate implementation of efforts as part of ongoing reviews. Since adoption of the policy, NATO's international military staff revised the Military Policy Guidance document to incorporate the policy's requirements on awareness and education. All NATO staff are bound by a special directive issued by NATO's Secretary General. Anti-trafficking directives will be included in all future NATO operational plans.

Allies continue to review the NATO policy to enhance it. Allies are considering designating a NATO Senior Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings to work with member states and partner nations on effective implementation of NATO's zero-tolerance policy on human trafficking. Also, allies are examining how to ensure confidentiality for personnel or private citizens who report suspected incidences of trafficking, particularly within small missions.


NATO has created three anti-trafficking awareness training modules for all troops, commanders, and military police personnel. These modules, available on-line, are based in part on the U.S. Department of Defense's training modules. In 2005, the NATO school and the NATO Defense College began incorporating anti-trafficking into its curriculum for both senior commanders and staff officers. The NATO missions in the Balkans provide induction training for all personnel on a regular basis. While member states and partners have made a commitment to provide training for personnel participating in NATO-led operations, it is not clear to what extent they are all providing regular pre-deployment training.

Discipline and Accountability

There are no known instances of NATO international forces or international military staff involved in facilitating human trafficking. Member states and partners are responsible for disciplining personnel. NATO international forces or international military staff are subject to disciplinary action including dismissal if they support or facilitate trafficking. NATO conducts periodic mission reviews of NATO-led operations and can use this channel to report trafficking related incidences. NATO does not have a victim compensation program.



The OSCE has policies to prevent personnel from engaging in human trafficking or sexual exploitation and abuse. The Code of Conduct for OSCE Officials addresses general conduct of mission members and is supplemented by a document titled "Staff Instruction 11" which specifically addresses preventing the promotion or facilitation of trafficking in persons. The staff instruction applies to all OSCE officials while on mission (including attending events in an official capacity).
The OSCE instruction specifically states, "Officials are not permitted to patronize any establishments or have professional or personal relationships with individuals with connections to trafficking." In December 2005, the OSCE Ministerial Council adopted a decision sponsored by the United States entitled "Ensuring the Highest Standards of Conduct and Accountability of Persons Serving on International Forces and Missions." This decision focuses on the responsibility of OSCE member and partner states to take necessary measures to prevent trafficking, sexual exploitation, abuse, and forced labor by mission personnel, including investigating and punishing anyone who engages or facilitates these illicit activities. Reporting channels should ensure confidentiality of personnel or private citizens who report suspected incidences of trafficking.


The OSCE has training modules on trafficking, staff instructions, and policies as part of its general orientation training. OSCE instructors also travel to field missions periodically to update training for mission members and to train locally-hired staff.

Discipline and Accountability

There are no known instances of OSCE personnel involved in the support or facilitation of human trafficking. OSCE officials and staff are subject to disciplinary action including dismissal if they are found to have supported or facilitated trafficking. Member states and partners are responsible for disciplining personnel assigned to the OSCE. Heads of Mission are obligated to take necessary measures to prevent involvement in trafficking by staff and to take any disciplinary action. Allegations of violations are to be reported to the OSCE Secretariat. OSCE does not have a victim compensation program.

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