Sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers - Timeline

Note: please note that this page will be updated and amended on an ongoing basis. This information has been collected from a variety of sources. If you have further details, corrections or clarifications, please email us on: [email protected].

Timeline of events:

March 2019

UN news: Secretary-General António Guterres has appointed seven distinguished experts to serve on the newly established Civil Society Advisory Board on prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse. The aim of the Board is to foster closer interaction with civil society and external experts and organizations as part of the United Nations efforts to combat sexual exploitation and abuse. 

The functions of the Board include advising the Secretary-General on ways to strengthen preventive measures and accountability mechanisms to address sexual exploitation and abuse by both United Nations personnel and non-United Nations forces operating pursuant to a Security Council mandate. Members of the Board serve in their personal capacity and will not receive any compensation or remuneration. The members are as follows:

  • Ms. Joy Ezeilo (Nigeria)

  • Ms. Rosa Freedman (UK)

  • Mr. Pablo de Greiff (Colombia)

  • Ms. Adrijana Hanušić Bećirović (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

  • Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid (Morocco)

  • Mr. Vitit Muntarbhorn (Thailand)

  • Mr. Muna B. Ndulo (Zambia)

January 2019

GhanaWeb: 14 Ghanaian police officers serving alongside UN peacekeepers in South Sudan are to stand trial for sexual misconduct. In total 48 Ghanaian police officers have been repatriated.

September 2018

UN Foundation: The UN Secretary-General convened a high-level meeting on Action for Peacekeeping to renew commitments to UN peacekeeping operations. Member States and the UN committed to:

  • Ensuring full, equal and meaningful participation of women in all stages of the peace process and systematically integrate a gender perspective into all stages of analysis, planning, implementation and reporting;

  • Increase the number of civilian and uniformed women in peacekeeping at all levels and in key positions;

  • Support tailored, context-specific peacekeeping approaches to protecting civilians in relevant peacekeeping operations by emphasizing the protection of women and children;

  • Implement the Secretary-General’s Zero Tolerance Policy on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) and its victim-centred approach.

August 2018

A new documentary by Channel 4 news found the UN recorded more than 1700 allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation in the last 15 years - but only 53 uniformed peacekeepers have been sent to jail for sexual offences. The documentary focused on the predatory behaviour of uniformed members and civilians undertaking UN peacekeeping missions, discovering a previously unknown victim of former UN peacekeeper Didier Bourguet, convicted in 2008 of two of the 20 rapes of children with which he was charged, including a 12-year-old girl.

You can see the film here.

May 2018

UN News: 54 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse involving personnel serving with the UN and its partners in the field were received in the first three months of this year. Fourteen cases related to on-going peacekeeping operations; 18 from UN agencies, funds and programmes; while 21 relate to implementing partners, and one to a member of a non-UN international force.

March 2018

UN news: The number of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse committed by personnel serving with the United Nations dropped from 165 in 2016 to 138 last year, according to the latest report by the UN Secretary-General on implementing a zero-tolerance policy for these crimes.

December 2017

The latest allegations from the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and the UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) raise serious questions about how the UN is responding to allegations. The Code Blue campaign has questioned how allegations are being handled, asking why cases are not being referred to the ‘host state’, why the nationalities of the ‘accused’ are withheld, and which state authority the cases are being referred to for criminal accountability.

September 2017

UN News: The SG convened a High-Level Meeting on combating sexual exploitation and abuse appointing Jane Connors as the UN’s Victims’ Rights Advocate. The role of the Victims' Rights Advocate will be to develop system-wide mechanisms and policies to promote reliable gender- and child-sensitive processes for victims and witnesses to file complaints.

The SG also announced the creation of a 'Circle of Leadership' for Governments to demonstrate resolve and commitment at the highest political level to eradicate sexual exploitation and abuse. He also announced he will establish an Advisory Board of external experts and representatives from civil society to act as a “critical interface” between communities and the UN.

September 2017

Code Blue campaign: A confidential source has provided AIDS-Free World’s Code Blue Campaign with internal case files that reveal the United Nations’ egregious mishandling of sexual exploitation and abuse complaints against its own peacekeeping personnel.

The materials include 14 fact-finding inquiries into complaints lodged against military peacekeepers from nine different countries serving in the UN mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). They offer a rare glimpse into what really happens when the UN learns of violations of a sexual nature allegedly committed by peacekeepers.

August 2017

Secretary-General António Guterres has appointed Jane Connors, Australian law professional and long-time human rights advocate, as the first UN advocate for the rights of victims of sexual exploitation and abuse.

She will work with government institutions, civil society, and national and legal and human rights organizations to build networks of support and to help ensure that the full effect of local laws, including remedies for victims, are brought to bear.

July 2017

Al Jazeera: At least 23 UN peacekeepers have been accused of sexual exploitation or abuse of civilians across UN missions around the world since January 2017, according to new UN figures. Since the beginning of 2017, there have been 33 recorded cases, five of which involved children. The figures show that the number of reported cases is on the rise, up to 103 in 2016, from 69 the previous year.

June 2017

BBC news: The DRC is to withdraw more than 600 troops serving as peacekeepers in the Central African Republic (CAR) following claims of sexual abuse, the UN says. A review of the Congolese deployment pointed to "systemic problems", a statement said. The UN peacekeeping force in the CAR has faced scores of allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation.

May 2017

Associated press: How a Haiti child sex ring was whitewashed

April 2017

Associated press: The AP reviewed 12 years of UN data on sexual misconduct and exploitation, and found an estimated 2,000 allegations against peacekeepers and personnel — signaling the crisis is much larger than previously known. More than 300 of the allegations involved children, AP found, but only a fraction of the alleged perpetrators served jail time.

March 2017

UN News: The General Assembly adopted a resolution (A/71/L.59) committing to the UN’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and stressing the importance of States holding perpetrators accountable. The resolution calls on States deploying peacekeepers to take appropriate steps to investigate allegations and urged all forces to take adequate measures to prevent, and combat impunity for sexual abuse and exploitation by their personnel.

March 2017

UN News: The new UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, published a new report outlining his strategy for preventing and responding to sexual exploitation and abuse carried out in UN mandated peacekeeping missions. The report, Special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse: a new approach, focuses on four main areas of action: putting victims first; ending impunity; engaging civil society and external partners; and improving strategic communications for education and transparency.

You can read CRIN's brief summary of the report here

January 2017

UN News: The UN has announced it will create a high-level task force in order to respond to sexual exploitation and abuse. The task force is to develop a "clear, game-changing strategy to achieve visible and measurable further improvement." Members of the high-level task force, who all hold official positions within the UN system, will present their strategy in the upcoming Report of the Secretary-General on Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation.

January 2017

BBC: Six French soldiers accused of sexually abusing children in the Central African Republic (CAR) have not been charged following a criminal inquiry. The assaults allegedly took place at a camp for displaced people near the airport in the capital Bangui and allegedly took place between December 2013 and June 2014. The prosecutor's office will make the final decision over the charges, but its decision is expected to reflect the finding of the judges who found no evidence to warrant further investigation.

December 2016

The Guardian: A UN investigation into scores of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers in Central African Republic has identified 41 alleged perpetrators among the troops. 41 soldiers – 16 from Gabon and 25 from Burundi – were identified as alleged perpetrators. Of over 100 alleged victims of sexual abuse, 25 were children.

July 2016

Tribune India: As one of the largest troop-contributing countries in UN peacekeeping operations, India has contributed $100,000 to a trust fund set up for victims of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers, becoming the first country to make a contribution to the fund.

July 2016

UN News: The UN department providing logistical support to field missions announced today the launch of a new mandatory online programme for all uniformed and civilian personnel to strengthen training on the standards of conduct, with a special focus on sexual exploitation and abuse. The programme is part of the UN's wider effort to implement a series of corrective and preventive measures, following a number of allegations of such misconduct, including within the ranks of its peacekeepers.

June 2016

Guardian: Anders Kompass, Director of Field Operations at the UN human rights office in Geneva, announced his resignation on Tuesday. Kompass – whose suspension last year for exposing the sexual abuse of children in Central African Republic was revealed by the Guardian – said he could no longer work for an organisation with no accountability.

May 2016

Associated Press:  UN said on Tuesday it has received 44 allegations of sexual abuse by peacekeepers and staff in UN missions so far this year involving more than 40 minors. 41 investigations are under way. Three investigations have been completed: A peacekeeper from Bangladesh serving in CAR was sentenced to one year in prison for sexually abusing a minor; an Egyptian peacekeeper serving in CAR was court martialed and sentenced to five years for sexually assaulting an adult; and a UN civilian staffer has been put on leave without pay pending a decision on action to be taken.

April 2016

Code blue campaign: 41 additional cases of sexual violence by peacekeepers have been documented by MINUSCA, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR), following interviews with victims in Dekoa, a remote town in the country’s Kemo prefecture.

Guardian: A group of 11 Tanzanian peacekeepers accused of sexual exploitation and abuse in the Democratic Republic of the Congo also face paternity claims from their alleged victims, the UN said on Monday. Troops from the mission’s Force Intervention Brigade in the village of Mavivi in eastern DR Congo have been confined to base camp pending investigation, Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for secretary general Ban Ki-moon, said. They are the first troops to be prosecuted

Al Jazeera: The United Nations announced 108 new sexual abuse cases allegedly by international peacekeepers in Central African Republic (CAR) with the vast majority of victims being children. A report by a US-based advocacy group said three girls in CAR told UN staff they were tied up and forced to have sex with a dog by a French military commander in 2014.

March 2016

Reuters: Twenty soldiers from Democratic Republic of Congo went on trial this week for alleged rape and other crimes committed while serving in CAR

BBC: Allegations of sexual exploitation or sexual abuse by United Nations peacekeepers rose by a third last year, according to a new UN report. There were 69 claims against peacekeepers in 2015, up from 52 in 2014 was 66 in 2013. Almost a third of the 2015 claims were made in the Central African Republic. For the first time, the report has also set out all the countries whose soldiers are reportedly involved under a new "name-and-shame" policy. Overall, 10 peacekeeping missions were subject to allegations in 2015.

February 2016

Africanews: The UN has announced it will repatriate 3 Burundian officers from CAR over violations of human rights.

UN news: Ban Ki-moon today announced the appointment of Jane Holl Lute of the United States as Special Coordinator on improving the United Nations response to sexual exploitation and abuse. Ms. Lute will support the ongoing efforts of the Secretary-General and the leadership of United Nations offices, departments, funds and programmes to better align our peacekeeping and human rights systems and to strengthen United Nations response to sexual exploitation and abuse.

Bloomberg: 120 peacekeepers have been expelled from CAR after new accusations of sexual abuse were made. Human Rights Watch first brought the cases to Minusca’s attention on Jan. 21. The troops involved in the cases are from Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo and their governments are expected to investigate further, according to the statement.

BBC News: The UN says it has new allegations of child sex abuse by European troops in the CAR. A number of girls aged between 14 and 16 have alleged they were raped by Georgian members of the EU's operation Eufor, the UN says. A seven-year-old girl and a nine-year-old boy have also said they were abused by French troops.

January 2016

UN peacekeepers are facing new allegations of sexual abuse in the Central African Republic involving four young girls, according to the UN spokesman.

The UN mission in Bangui received the claims on Monday and has asked three countries whose troops were allegedly involved in the misconduct to investigate.

Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for the UN secretary general, did not say what countries the accused peacekeepers were from.

December 2015

The long-awaited report on the response of the United Nations' handling of sexual abuse of children by peacekeepers has been published. The tone of the report is one of strong condemnation, both of the personal conduct of several high-ranking UN officials and the grave systemic failures of the UN’s response to sexual exploitation and abuse of children. It depicts a UN system that has comprehensively failed to respond to reprehensible crimes against vulnerable children, carried out by UN mandated peacekeepers in a displaced persons’ camp in Bangui.

CRIN welcomes the publication of the report and is pleased to see that many of the recommendations and questions posed in our submission to the Panel’s work have been addressed.

CRIN also has produced an initial summary of the report.

November 2015

Thompson Reuters Foundation: UN peacekeepers faced fresh sex allegations after three teenage girls aged between 14 and 17, displaced from their homes by fighting reported to a new investigation that they had sex with Congolese peacekeepers over several weeks, resulting in at least two pregnancies.

October 2015

UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression has called on states to protect the right of whistle-blowers to disclose information in the public interest and to uphold the general principle of source confidentiality in law and practice in a report recently published

September 2015

Senior UN official outlines steps taken in response to Central African Republic abuse allegations

UN news centre: A new case surfaces of a young girl being allegedly sexually abused by a member of the French military force last year. The girl gave birth to a child in April and has reportedly lodged a paternity case with the local authorities.

August 2015

BBC: The UN envoy to Central African Republic (CAR), Babacar Gaye, has been sacked amid multiple allegations of sexual abuse by peacekeepers. UN chief Ban Ki-moon told reporters that he had requested his resignation.

Amnesty International: The rape of a 12-year-old girl and the apparent indiscriminate killings of a 16-year-old boy and his father by UN peacekeeping forces in the Central African Republic must be urgently investigated, with those implicated in the crimes suspended immediately, Amnesty International said. The incidents took place on 2 and 3 August as peacekeeping forces were carrying out an operation in the capital Bangui.

July 2015

Guardian: Senior UN human rights official Flavia Pansieri resigns from her role as the deputy high commissioner for human rights over CAR sexual abuse. She had previosuly admitted not following up for months on allegations of sexual abuse in CAR.

June 2015

France 24: A UN official announces that investigations have begun into a third case of alleged sexual abuse involving peacekeeping troops in Central African Republic. The country of origin was not identified, but a UN official told AFP it was an African contingent.

UN News Centre: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed a new panel to investigate the response of the UN to the allegations of sexual abuse in the Central African Republic (CAR). The three-member panel – which will include Marie Deschamps of Canada; Hassan Bubacar Jallow of Gambia; and Yasmin Louise Sooka of South Africa – will aim to review both the allegations and the UN response and any shortcomings in existing procedures covering serious crimes by the Organization and related personnel, host State forces and non-State actors that it may become aware of during its review. The panel will also conduct its work independently and will receive unrestricted access to all UN records and have full access to staff members and other UN personnel.

New York Times: An independent panel reviewing UN peacekeeping operations formed in 2014 recommended sweeping changes to make the peacekeeping soldiers more accountable for sexual abuse and other crimes. The review recommended more aggressive disclosure of information on disciplinary actions taken by contributing countries, including six-month deadlines for completing investigations. It also recommended creating an “adequately resourced” victim assistance program and barring peacekeeping troops from any country listed on the secretary general’s annual report on children and armed conflict and on conflict-related sexual violence, until that country is removed from the list.

UN press briefing: UNICEF spokesperson in Geneva, Christophe Boulierac is asked when Tony Lake (Executive Director of UNICEF) was informed about the allegations of sexual abuse in CAR. He responds that he does not have this information but he can confirm that on 16 July 2014, information was shared with the SRSG on CAC.

UN Secretary General statement: Ban Ki Moon announces plans for an external independent review into the abuse claims.

May 2015

Code blue campaign: UN internal documents and memos are leaked by the Code Blue Campaign

The Guardian: French prosecutors launch a criminal investigation into the allegations of abuse.

CRIN: Civil society organisations publish letter calling for UN transparency on child sexual abuse by peacekeepers in the CAR.

The Guardian: UN Judge rules that the decision to suspend Kompas from his role as Director of Field Operations for the OHCHR was 'prima facie unlawful' and orders the High Commissioner to immediately reinstate him.

April 2015

The Guardian: After refusing to resign, Kompass is suspended from office for breaching protocols. He takes the OHCHR to the UN dispute tribunal

Code blue campaign: High Commissioner Zeid requests that the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services officially investigate Kompass for the leak regarding sexual abuse claims. The investigation into the leak incorporated various statements form all the central figures in the case. However, the sole focus of this investigation was to concentrate on Kompass rather than the abuse.

Code blue campaign: The Deputy Swedish Ambassador to the UN informs the UN ethics office of their anger at Kompass being asked to resign and threaten to go public with the story, potentially sparking a major diplomatic row.

March 2015

Code blue campaign: Chef de Cabinet Susanna Malcorra arranges a meeting between High Commissioner Zeid, Deputy High Commissioner Pansieri, Under-Secretary-General (USG) for OIOS Carman Lapointe, and the UN’s Director of Ethics, Joan Dubinsky. They decide to open an investigation into Kompass.

Code blue campaign: At the request of Zeid and UN peacekeeping head Herve Ladsous, Pansieri asks Kompass to resign. Kompass refuses to resign.

Code blue campaign: The human rights officer who had interviewed the child victims is interviewed by two senior OHCHR lawyers for the first time, where they question her reports and her work in the Central African Republic. They then briefed UN High Commissioner Zeid and Deputy High Commissioner Pansieri.

February 2015

The Secretary General's annual report on the UN's response to sexual exploitation and abuse for 2014 failed to mention the reports of abuses in the Central African Republic

December 2014

UN General Assembly: The Secretary General submits a final report of the International Commission of Inquiry on the Central African Republic, however, the report failed to reference the specific MINUSCA/OHCHR/UNICEF reports of abuse by the international peace keepers.

August – November 2014

OHCHR requests for the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) to begin investigating Anders Kompass for leaking sensitive cables regarding the case and breaking with protocol.

August 2014

Code blue campaign: The OHCHR Deputy High Commissioner's Office receive the report via email and informs the Executive office of the Secretary General.

Code blue campaign: Anders Kompass briefs the OHCHR Deputy High Commissioner Flavia Pansieri.

Code blue campaign: French investigators arrive in Bangui and question Renner Onana, MINUSCA's Chief of Human Rights and Justice who had received successive reports after each interview had taken place. MINUSCA referred the French investigators to the human rights officer who had conducted the interviews who was informed by OHCHR's senior legal advisor to inform the French investigators that any questions must go through UN lawyers who would provide the answers. The UNICEF staff members also referred the French investigators to the UN office of legal affairs.

July 2014

Code blue campaign: French authorities confirm to Mr Kompass that they had begun an investigation.

Mid-July 2014

Code blue campaign: More than 12 UN staff members receive the human rights officer's report, and one of the recipients informs his supervisor, Ander Kompass in Geneva. Mr. Kompass passes the information on to the French diplomatic authorities.

May – June 2014

Code blue campaign: The human rights officer with the UNICEF staff member continue to conduct numerous interviews with child victims. The boys aged 8-15 years old reported a catalogue of abuses including forced oral sex and anal rape. After each interview, MINUSCA were informed, yet no apparent action was taken. One of the victims claimed the most recent incidents of abuse were between the 8t and 12t June, several weeks after the first interview had taken place.

May 2014

Code blue campaign: A junior human rights officer with OHCHR and a UNICEF staff member conduct an interview with an 11 year old boy who gives a detailed description of a French soldier who had promised him food in exchange for oral sex. The soldier successfully negotiated with a guard to bring the boy onto the base, where he was then raped. The human rights officer informed Renner Onana, Chief of Human Rights and Justice for MINUSCA of the details of the interview. There is no record of Renner Onana, taking any action.

Early-May 2014

Code blue campaign: An international NGO request the help of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) after reports emerge that children are being sexually assaulted and raped by international peacekeeping troops in Bangui, the capital of Central African Republic (CAR).