Monday, October 31, 2005

Keeping the Peace

The number of complains of sexual abuse and exploitation formally lodged against UN peacekeepers last year was more than double the number in 2003.

There are those on the soft-left who believe that the New Zealand army should be reformatted to concentrate on peacekeeping. It's seen as a way we can defend human rights, protect minorities and so on.

This does always seem terribly naieve to me. I don't actually think that decisions about which troops go where have anything to do with human rights, ever. The experience of East Timor shows that very clearly.

But there is actually another fundamental point, which rape and sexual abuse by peacekeepers makes clear. The basic assumption of 'peacekeeping' is that you can give people weapons send them into a conflict zone and trust them not to abuse that power, as long as they come from somewhere outside of the area where there's conflict. Well it doesn't work like that.

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