Review Essay of Sex in Peace Operations, by Gabrielle Simm (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).
International Peacekeeping Journal (2014) 23:5
6 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2014 Last revised: 19 Jul 2015
Date Written: October 29, 2014
Sexual exploitation and abuse have been endemic to peace support operations for many years now. Despite strict codes of conduct, humanitarian workers, UN peacekeeping personnel, and private military contractors have a long history of sexual misconduct. This includes sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, and human trafficking in a number of war-torn countries — all of which have damaged the credibility of the peacekeeping industry over the past two decades. The failure of the United Nations and the contributing countries to hold peacekeepers and other actors in peace support operations accountable for sexual exploitation and abuse has subverted this industry and encouraged a culture of impunity.
Bearing this in mind, it is interesting that the work under review goes beyond the above question to discuss the issue of consensual sex between international personnel and local women, a phenomenon that has not yet been evaluated or debated to any great extent in the academic arena. The book argues that the current regulation of sex between local women and participants in peace support operations is unsatisfactory. It emphasizes that a greater regulatory framework is needed — as law alone is inadequate for regulating these relations — to establish effective monitoring and enforcement policies.
In sum, this is an outstanding work that examines international law on peacekeeping sex from a regulatory perspective, and underlines the importance of considering all aspects of sex between local people and private military contractors in peace support operations. It stands as a unique scholarly reference on the subject and will serve as an essential tool to academics, students of peacekeeping studies, and feminist legal scholars both immediately and for several years to come.
Keywords: UN peacekeeping, peacekeeping industry, immunity, peacekeepers sexual exploitation, private military contractors’ sexual crimes, humanitarian workers sexual crimes, Gabrielle Simm.
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