Apart from perpetuating human rights violations in fragile contexts, sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) in UN peacekeeping operations (PKOs) reduces the international community's ability to pursue peacebuilding missions, threatens the legitimacy of ongoing missions, and undermines gender equality efforts in the host country. While previous research has investigated patterns of SEA violations by peacekeepers, most studies limit their focus on abuses by military and police personnel. This study expands on these studies by examining SEA violations committed by civilian peacekeepers in addition to military and police personnel, as well as separately. I argue that several other determinants beyond military attributes account for SEA in UN PKOs, particularly determinants which address the relationships peacekeeping personnel have with local communities. Using original data on over a thousand SEA allegations by various UN personnel from 2007 to 2020, my findings show substantial variation across military, civilian, and police SEA allegations in PKOs. Specifically, the results suggest that the presence of international civilian staff in PKOs raises the likelihood of civilian perpetuated SEA while decreasing the likelihood of military perpetuated offenses. Female peacekeepers are found to have a greater impact in decreasing civilian and police SEA, a trend not found when considering military perpetuated SEA. Military SEA appears to decrease when there is high conflict activity in PKOs but increases when levels of sexual violence during the conflicts increase. High levels of sexual violence during conflict, on the other hand, are associated with fewer abuses by civilian personnel. Overall, the findings support the idea that SEA varies across personnel categories and has significant implications for policymaking and peacebuilding processes in PKOs and beyond.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
School of Politics, Security and International Affairs
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Cuber, Gabriella, "Understanding Variation in Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in UN PKOs: The Role of Military, Police, and Civilian Peacekeepers" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 668.