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

In response to a Congressional mandate, this section summarizes actions taken by the United Nations (UN), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to prevent trafficking in persons or the exploitation of victims of trafficking.


The United Nations continues to implement its 2003 zero-tolerance policy “Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse” (ST/SGB/2003/13), which applies to approximately 120,000 uniformed personnel (troops, military observers, and police), international and national staff members, contractors, consultants, and volunteers serving in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions around the world. During the reporting period, there were 60 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse against UN peacekeeping personnel, compared with 85 such allegations in 2010. The majority of the allegations affected the UN missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Haiti and Sudan. Twenty-two allegations involved children under 18 years of age, and in 14 other cases the age could not be determined. The UN completed 23 investigations and deemed 10 of the allegations credible; 56 cases were still under investigation in 2011. No comprehensive information is available on the number of cases of disciplinary action such as suspension, dismissal, censure, demotion, and referral to employers. The UN reports that in 2011 it followed up 60 times with affected Troop Contributing Countries, but only received 26 responses concerning the outcomes of disciplinary actions. In late 2011, the Conduct and Discipline Unit at UN Headquarters launched a review of current practices and procedures in peacekeeping missions to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse; there is no information on when the review will be completed. While all UN Missions have established victim assistance mechanisms, there is no data available on the number of alleged or confirmed victims receiving assistance through these mechanisms during the reporting period.


The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s anti-trafficking policy was adopted in 2004 and updated in 2007. Provisions include training for personnel of NATO-led missions, support for host country law enforcement in anti-trafficking investigations, guidelines prohibiting contractors from engaging in trafficking, and evaluations of implementation of efforts as part of ongoing reviews. Since 2007, NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Defense Policy and Planning has served as the Senior Coordinator on Counter-Trafficking in Human Beings. However, this is a collateral-duty position and there is no information on any new anti-trafficking activities in 2011. NATO has six ongoing missions involving the deployment more than 135,000 troops. During the reporting period, there were no reports of NATO personnel or units engaging in or facilitating human trafficking.


The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Code of Conduct for Staff and Mission Members prescribes general conduct of officials and staff while on mission, with specific instruction on preventing human trafficking. In a direct response to the OSCE Action Plan, the organization’s human resources department issued guidance reiterating the high standards of behavior expected for all OSCE officials in mission areas, as well as for OSCE staff attending conferences and other official events. During the reporting period there were no reports of OSCE personnel engaging in or facilitating human trafficking.