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’ 2003 zero-tolerance policy “Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse” (ST/SGB/2003/13), applies to approximately 114,000 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. In 2012, there were 59 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse lodged against UN peacekeeping personnel. The majority (52 percent) of those allegations were made against staff members, contractors and UN Volunteers, not military or uniformed personnel. Most of the allegations occurred at the UN missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Haiti and Sudan. Thirty percent of the allegations involved children under 18 years of age, and in 20 other cases the age of the victims could not be determined. The UN completed 21 investigations of which eight were deemed credible; 37 cases were still under investigation at the end of 2012. No information is available on the number of cases that resulted in disciplinary action such as suspension, dismissal, censure, demotion, and referral to employers. In 2012, the UN reports it followed up 47 times with affected Troop Contributing Countries, and received 27 responses concerning the outcomes of disciplinary actions. All UN Missions have established victim assistance mechanisms and have mapped locally-available services for victims of sexual exploitation and abuse, which can be found at


The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s anti-trafficking policy was adopted in 2004 and updated in 2007 and includes 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. In 2007, NATO established a Senior Coordinator on Counter Trafficking in Human Beings; according to NATO, due to budget constraints, the position has been vacant for two years. No anti-trafficking initiatives or activities were undertaken by NATO at the headquarters level since the departure of NATO’s Counter Trafficking Senior Coordinator. NATO has five ongoing operations involving the deployment more than 105,000 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 not engaging in 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.