In 2004, after numerous allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) by United Nations (UN) peacekeepers made international headlines, both the UN Security Council and US Congress deliberated over what actions should be taken to solve the problem of peacekeepers violating the populations they were sent to protect. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked the Permanent Representative of Jordan, His Royal Highness Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, a former civilian peacekeeper and the UN ambassador of one of the major peacekeeping troop contributors, to prepare a comprehensive report on sexual exploitation and abuse in UN peacekeeping missions.
The Zeid Report, released in March 2005, recommended the establishment and implementation of a comprehensive strategy to eradicate SEA by UN peacekeeping personnel. The report’s recommendations included propagation of UN standards of conduct, reforming the investigative process, strengthening organizational, managerial and command responsibility, and instituting individual disciplinary, financial and criminal accountability. Releasing the Zeid Report was a significant step for the UN in its effort to combat SEA. The report was an acknowledgement by the Secretary-General that SEA in peacekeeping was a major problem and set forth a rough plan for action.
This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the Zeid Report’s release. Since then, the UN has taken several steps to implement these recommendations. First, an entirely new Conduct and Discipline Unit (CDU) was established at UN headquarters. Second, training, investigative and victim assistance procedures have been developed through a “three-pronged” strategy of prevention, enforcement and remedial action. Third, the UN’s administrative justice system was overhauled.