Canada urged to lead fight against UN peacekeeper sex abuse

OTTAWA -- With the Trudeau Liberals pledging a return to peacekeeping, Canada is being urged to play a leading role in stamping out what is being described as rampant sexual abuse by United Nations peacekeepers.

See Full Article

Stephen Lewis, a former Canadian ambassador to the UN, is one of the leaders of an international coalition for the creation of an independent management board to oversee UN peacekeeping.

Lewis, co-chair of the Code Blue coalition, wants Canada to lead the charge in UN corridors to wrestle control of peacekeeping away from the UN and place it with an independent board, similar to a bankruptcy trustee.

Lewis and others are accusing top UN brass of turning a blind eye to systemic sexual abuse by peacekeepers.

The coalition has been calling for UN reform following the scandal that erupted last year in the Central African Republic with child sex abuse allegations against French soldiers involving boys as young as nine.

Another Canadian, retired Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps, co-authored a report released last month that accused the UN of a "gross institutional failure" because of how it responded to the abuse allegations.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon commissioned Deschamps's report last year after Lewis's organization raised concerns about the scandal.

Lewis said the Canadian government can lead a diplomatic push to clean up peacekeeping because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants Canada to play a bigger role in future missions, while re-engaging more broadly with the UN.

"I think that Canada has a very considerable role to play in making certain that sexual exploitation and abuse is high on the agenda of what we do around peacekeeping hereafter."

Canada has already played a lead role behind the scenes to press Ban to appoint Deschamps and her panel to review the allegations, said Lewis.

But with Canada's new UN ambassador assuming his post in New York in April, and the Liberal government's renewed focus on multilateralism, "there can be a new tone set on the part of Canada," said Lewis.

The coalition is pressing the UN to lift the blanket immunity that protects its diplomats because it says many civilian employees know about peacekeeping abuses, but have done nothing to stop it.

Paula Donovan, the American women's rights activist who is Lewis's co-chair, said Canada has a vested interest in cleaning up peacekeeping because "they essentially invented peacekeeping, and I think many Canadians feel proudly attached to that legacy."

Backed by U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, former external affairs minister Lester Pearson proposed the first UN peacekeeping mission in 1956 to help defuse the Suez Crisis -- for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize a year later.

In recent decades, however, Canada's contribution to UN peacekeeping has dwindled to a few dozen troops.

Canada is still one of the top 10 financial supporters of UN peacekeeping missions, but Trudeau has said he wants to see Canadian troops playing a more active role in future missions.

Trudeau has said he expects Canada can contribute specialized leadership, such as engineers, or leverage the bilingualism of senior officers instead of contributing large numbers of infantry troops.

Developing countries such as Bangladesh, India and Pakistan have become the leading contributors of troops to peacekeeping missions since the passing of Canada's heyday in the 1990s.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Alberta Railway Museum steam locomotive coming out of retirement for Canada 150 [Photos] [Video]

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    The 104-year-old Montreal Locomotive Works 1392 is packed up and ready get back on the tracks for the first time in 62 years. The 1913 locomotive acquired by the Alberta Railway Museum in 1971, which served in the Edmonton-area in the 1950s on work and weed trains, will be back in action as part of the Rails and Tales Canada 150 celebrations. Source
  • Ex-ski coach Bertrand Charest guilty on 37 of 57 charges in sex trial

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    SAINT-JEROME, Que. — Former high-performance ski coach Bertrand Charest was found guilty Thursday of 37 of the 57 charges against him in connection with sexual relations with his students. The 57 counts included sexual assault and breach of trust involving 12 females who were between 12 and 19 at the time of the offences and alleged offences. Source
  • Republicans unveil bill to replace Obamacare, change Medicaid

    World News CBC News
    Senate Republicans released their long-awaited bill Thursday to dismantle much of Barack Obama's health care law, proposing to cut Medicaid for low-income Americans and erase tax boosts that Obama imposed on high-earners and medical companies to finance his expansion of coverage. Source
  • Power still off for 400 properties in Red Deer after Tuesday's windstorm

    Canada News CTV News
    RED DEER, Alta. -- The City of Red Deer says 400 homes and business are still without power after a violent windstorm hit central Alberta earlier this week. In an update on its website, the city says it could be another two days before electricity is restored to everyone. Source
  • Legal clinic challenges Ontario panhandling law as unconstitutional

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- A Toronto legal clinic has launched a constitutional challenge against an Ontario law that targets panhandling. The Fair Change clinic argues that the Safe Streets Act violates the rights of people who beg for money, including freedom of expression, the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Source
  • 6.8-magnitude earthquake measured in Guatemala's Pacific coast

    World News CBC News
    A major earthquake struck off the coast of Guatemala on Thursday, damaging buildings and downing trees as well as causing powerful tremors in neighbouring El Salvador. There were no reports of casualties. The quake, measured at a magnitude of 6.8 by the U.S. Source
  • Woman lights cigarette at end of wild police pursuit

    World News Toronto Sun
    Los Angeles police say a woman led officers on a wild chase in a suspected stolen car that lasted a half-hour and ended when she crashed into a pole. Officials say at one point during the pursuit early Thursday the suspect stopped the sedan suddenly and then backed up and rammed a patrol car. Source
  • Champs Elysees attacker had arsenal of weapons: prosecutor

    World News CBC News
    The man behind this week's attempted attack in Paris's Champs Elysees had been to Turkey several times in 2016 where authorities questioned him over large amounts of gold and jewelry in his possession, and had a huge arsenal of weapons, the Paris prosecutor said. Source
  • N.S. government sends teen suicide expert to Cape Breton to address deaths

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX -- The Nova Scotia government is sending an expert on youth mental health and suicide to Cape Breton in the wake of several teen suicides. It says Dr. Stan Kutcher will go there Monday to talk to "families, schools, and the community" about addressing mental health concerns. Source
  • Holocaust survivor asked to move seats to accommodate Ultra-Orthodox Jew wins Israeli court case against El Al Airlines

    World News Toronto Sun
    JERUSALEM — An advocacy group representing an 83-year-old Holocaust survivor suing Israel’s national airline for discrimination says it’s won the case. The Israel Religious Action Center representing Renee Rabinowitz on Thursday called this week’s ruling “revolutionary.” It said an El Al flight attendant asked Rabinowitz to move from her seat next to an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man on a flight from Newark to Tel Aviv following his request. Source