Canadians join campaigners calling for end to UN peacekeeper sex abuse

An international group that includes Canada’s former UN ambassador Stephen Lewis and retired general and senator Romeo Dallaire is opening a campaign to end sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers and international employees.

OTTAWA — An international group that includes Canada’s former UN ambassador Stephen Lewis and retired general and senator Romeo Dallaire is opening a campaign to end sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers and international employees.

The group, which calls itself Code Blue, wants UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to lift the diplomatic immunity that protects UN employees from being held to account when abuse complaints arise.

Lewis says the secretary general’s inaction makes a mockery of his annual pledge of zero tolerance towards abuse.

Paula Donovan, a campaign organizer, says Canada’s support is needed because the country invented peacekeeping and has a vested interest in ensuring its integrity.

The campaign has added relevance because of a scandal that erupted last month in Central African Republic, with sex abuse allegations against French soldiers involving boys, some as young as nine.

Nineteen years after she first documented a rise in child prostitution in six countries after peacekeepers arrived, Mozambique humanitarian advocate Graca Machel says the recent scandal shows matters are only getting worse.