Between Immunity and Impunity: Peacekeeping and Sexual Abuses and Violence

Marco Odello, Roisin Burke

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Ten years ago the Zeid Report was released. It addressed comprehensively for the first time in the history of the United Nations the problem of sexual exploitation and abuses that were committed by peacekeepers. Despite the proclamation by the United Nations’ Secretary General of a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy against the abuses, the real impact of this policy is not perceived. Some administrative measures have been taken in recent years, reports have been issued, some more control has been exercised in peacekeeping operations, however victims are still left without adequate and effective redress and United Nations’ member States are not adequately acting against individuals who commit those forms of violence. This is partly linked to the abuse of immunities which are supposed to protect the individual on mission, and actually end up by providing de facto impunity. It is time that the recently appointed UN High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations addresses this issue in a clear and unequivocal way. The main scope of this article is to reflect on the role and to the debate on immunities rather than discuss the possible solutions that States and the United Nations should consider in relation to acts which amount to sexual exploitation which are committed by peacekeepers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)839-853
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Human Rights
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 05 May 2016


  • International Law
  • Immunities
  • Human Rights
  • United Nations
  • Peacekeeping


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