Stopping Human Trafficking, Sexual Exploitation, and Abuse by International Peacekeepers

Trafficking in Persons Report
Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
June 4, 2008

In response to Congressional mandate, this section summarizes actions taken by the United Nations (UN), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to prevent trafficking in persons. Beginning this year, individual country narratives in this Report will, when applicable, describe efforts by governments to ensure that nationals deployed abroad as part of a peacekeeping or similar mission do not engage in, or facilitate, severe forms of trafficking in persons or exploit victims of such trafficking, as well as efforts to hold accountable nationals who engage in such conduct. This analysis is included if the government has 100 or more military personnel deployed in peacekeeping missions. Governments are ultimately responsible for holding civilian and military personnel accountable for acts of misconduct while on peacekeeping or humanitarian missions.

United Nations (UN)
The United Nations is implementing a series of reforms, and in May 2007, adopted additional
measures to prevent military and civilian personnel assigned to UN peacekeeping and humanitarian missions from engaging in sexual exploitation and abuse. Below are highlights of key UN reforms and the status of allegations registered in 2007. The measures apply to the approximately 90,000 UN uniformed personnel (troops, military observers, and police) and 10,000 UN international and locally-hired civilian staff members engaged in peacekeeping worldwide.


  • UN Staff Regulations classify sexual exploitation and abuse as a form of serious misconduct subject to disciplinary action, including summary dismissal.
  • Consultants, individual contractors, volunteers, military observers, and civilian police are legally bound by the standards of the Secretary General’s 2003 bulletin. All contracts and “letters of undertaking” include these standards.
  • The UN has a new revised model memorandum of understanding (MOU) that includes provisions for addressing sexual exploitation and abuse. This MOU, adopted by the UN General Assembly on July 24, 2007 (GA 61/267B), is being used as a template for negotiations with potential troop contributing countries (TCCs). The UN continues to discuss standards of conduct with current TCCs.
  • UN peacekeeping missions have instituted “offlimits premises and areas,” curfews, telephone hotlines, and required mission personnel to wear their uniforms at all times. 
  • With donor funding, United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) initiated mission-customized information campaigns and strategies to combat commercial sexual exploitation. In January 2008, this initiative was launched in Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Liberia, Sudan and East Timor.
  • DPKO established a secure Web-based software program to track sexual exploitation and abuse cases that will ensure that those personnel who have been dismissed or repatriated for sexual exploitation violations are barred from serving in future UN missions. This tracking system is being pilot tested for launch in the second quarter of 2008.
  • DPKO developed three training modules for different levels of personnel. These training modules are given to the TCCs for predeployment training; however, DPKO is not able to verify if the training has been completed. All personnel arriving at UN missions are made aware of the UN’s standards of conduct and “zero tolerance” policy, and receive sexual exploitation and abuse prevention training. Reports from U.S. Embassies in UN Mission countries indicate that training is occurring regularly and that conduct and discipline teams (CDTs) are active.
  • Civilian managers and military commanders are responsible for ensuring implementation
    of the UN’s programs and policies to eliminate sexual exploitation and abuse. Civilian managers are formally evaluated by the Heads of UN Missions on their efforts to implement the UN’s zero-tolerance policy.

Victim Assistance

  • The UN has a new victim assistance strategy, United Nations Comprehensive Strategy on
    Assistance and Support to Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by United Nations Staff and Related Personnel, adopted by the UN General Assembly December 19, 2007 (resolution GA 62/214). It enables the UN to address the needs of victims who may have suffered at the hands of UN personnel. The strategy enables the UN to help children born as a result of sexual exploitation and abuse. Assistance for victims and their children may include medical treatment, counseling, social support, legal services or material care. The UN is in the process of issuing implementation guidelines to all missions.


  • The DPKO has CDTs in place at UN headquarters and most UN peacekeeping missions.
    These teams are charged with informing local communities of the UN’s zero-tolerance policy and procedures for reporting abuse, receiving complaints, carrying out initial assessments of allegations, and determining whether specific allegations should be reported to the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) as Category I offenses (serious) warranting full investigation. Category II (less serious) allegations are handled by the peacekeeping mission itself.
  • OIOS has investigative personnel currently stationed in five peacekeeping missions; however, OIOS management is taking steps to move its personnel to regional UN offices for cost efficiency, which may adversely affect the deterrent benefit of being embedded in peacekeeping missions.
  • In 2007 there were 127 new allegations against UN peacekeeping personnel, a decrease from 357 allegations in 2006. The largest number of allegations came to light in the summer of 2007 affecting a roughly 700-member Moroccan contingent at the UN Mission in
    Cote d’Ivoire. While charges against most members of this contingent were not  substantiated, the Moroccan government confined its troops to barracks. The contingent was due for rotation home and was replaced by another Moroccan contingent, which was stationed in a different area of Cote d’Ivoire. OIOS has completed its investigation, but its findings have not yet been made public. In 2007, allegations were also made against UN peacekeeping personnel in the UN missions in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • According to DPKO, as of December 31, 2007, the UN completed 123 investigations of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse. There were 114 repatriations and no  suspensions.

Further information on the UN’s sexual exploitation and abuse prevention measures is available at:

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

NATO has measures in place to prevent military or civilian personnel assigned to NATO-led
missions from engaging in human trafficking. Since May 2007, there have been no reports of
any NATO personnel or units engaging in, or facilitating, human trafficking. NATO currently has seven on-going missions with tens of thousands of soldiers, and undertakes numerous other
activities throughout the year. In June 2004, NATO allies and partners adopted a policy on combating trafficking in human beings. Among its provisions, NATO initiated an anti-human
trafficking training for personnel taking part in NATO-led missions, committed to supporting host-country law enforcement in anti-trafficking investigations, and incorporated contractual provisions prohibiting contractors from engaging in trafficking. Anti-human trafficking directives are incorporated in all NATO operational plans. NATO employs three anti-human trafficking
awareness training modules for troops, commanders, and military police, which are available online to personnel and are also offered at NATO’s two training facilities. NATO provides anti-trafficking training for personnel and international staff prior to deployment. Officials and staff are subject to disciplinary action including dismissal for violations of NATO’s zero-tolerance policy. NATO allies and partners are responsible for taking any legal action against nationals participating in NATO missions. Personnel taking part in NATO missions are instructed to refer victims to local NGOs in order to receive legal or social services, and to work cooperatively with local law enforcement officials if they encounter a human trafficking situation. NATO has appointed its Assistant Secretary General for Defense Policy and Planning as Senior Coordinator on Counter-Trafficking in Human Beings to oversee its anti-human trafficking implementation efforts.

In the reporting period, over 1,000 individuals completed counter-trafficking training at NATO Schools in 2007 (in addition to pre-deployment training conducted by troop-contributing nations).
Progress has been made in the ongoing development of a specialized anti-trafficking course at the NATO Partnership for Peace Training Centre in Turkey with a pilot course completed in October 2007. The first annual report on Military Aspects of NATO Policy on Trafficking in Human Beings was submitted in February 2008.

Further information on NATO’s anti-human trafficking prevention measures can be found at:

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is implementing measures to prevent
personnel from engaging in human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and abuse. No new measures
have been adopted since May 2007. There have been no reports of any OSCE personnel engaging
in, or facilitating, the trafficking of human beings. The OSCE has 19 field missions and approximately 3,450 personnel, including contractors, seconded staff, and international and locally-based employees. The OSCE Secretary General is responsible for overseeing OSCE’s efforts to prevent misconduct by personnel. The OSCE’s Code of Conduct for Staff and Mission Members (Appendix 1 to Permanent Council 550/Corr.1, 27 June 2003) addresses general conduct of officials and staff while on mission, and “Staff Instruction 11” specifically focuses on preventing trafficking in persons. The OSCE Ministerial Council Decision 16/05, Ensuring the Highest Standards of Conduct and Accountability of Persons Serving International Forces and Missions calls on participating states to take the necessary steps to prevent human trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse, and, as necessary, discipline its personnel. The OSCE Ministerial Council
Decision 15/06, Combating Sexual Exploitation of Children, directs the OSCE executive structures to ensure that the issue of child sexual exploitation is incorporated in the code of conduct trainings
and awareness-raising materials targeted at OSCE officials. These documents are incorporated into OSCE training modules provided during orientation training for all OSCE personnel, including for locally-hired staff at missions. Officials and staff are subject to disciplinary action including dismissal. However, OSCE member states and partners are ultimately responsible for taking any legal action against nationals participating in OSCE missions who violate the policy. Personnel at field missions are instructed to refer alleged victims to local NGOs for legal or social services and to work cooperatively with local law enforcement officials if they encounter a human trafficking situation.

Further information on the OSCE’s anti-trafficking prevention measures is available at: