Smith co-chairs hearing on the shocking abuses committed by UN peacekeepers stationed abroad
A congressional hearing co-chaired today by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Chair of the House Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations Subcommittee, highlighted shocking abuses committed by UN peacekeepers stationed abroad—especially in Africa—against local civilians and the alarming lack of accountability for perpetrators.
“Failures of peacekeeping missions are a stain on the UN’s record and have caused a crisis of credibility,” said Rep. Smith, who has chaired a long series of hearings focused on accountability for peacekeeper abuse of local populations, especially in egregious cases of sexual abuse and exploitation like the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Haiti.
“Since the UN began to record details in 2010, there have been 251 substantiated allegations of abuse or exploitation by uniformed personnel and 81 substantiated allegations by civilian personnel,” said Smith.
“What is alarming is that there were 530 new allegations between 2015 and 2023 with only 177 of them investigated with 75 substantiated claims and 50 still pending information,” Smith said.
“The UN must do more to ensure that perpetrators are punished and that these crimes are prevented in the first place,” said Smith.
Entitled “The Future of Peacekeeping and the Increasing Role of Private Military Companies in Africa,” the joint hearing of the House Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations Subcommittee and the House Subcommittee on Africa featured testimony from two witnesses from the US State Department—Michele Sison, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of International Organization Affairs; and Jonathan Pratt, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs.
Over 71,000 UN peacekeepers are currently deployed across 11 missions, including five in Africa—with the largest missions in Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan.
“Peacekeepers must be protectors and never predators,” said Smith.
“We in Congress bear a special responsibility to the American people and vulnerable populations abroad to ensure that peacekeepers are held to the highest standards of behavior,” said Smith, who noted that American taxpayers provide more support for UN peacekeeping operations than any other country.
“That is why I included provisions related to peacekeeping operations—including human trafficking by peacekeeping personnel—as part of the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act that I authored in 2000 and subsequent reauthorizations,” Smith said.