International Policy/United Nations

'Whistleblower' Screening Disturbs Peace at U.N.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A "Whistleblower" screening at U.N. headquarters recently turned heated. When the secretary-general cast the problem of peacekeeper abuse as a "dark period" in the past, the movie's director took issue, saying more movies are to be made.

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Mandate Disagreement

Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Margot Wallstrom told Women's eNews that she keeps up-to-date with peacekeepers, but that this issue doesn't fall within her mandate.

Rees, now serving as the secretary general of the Geneva-based Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, disagreed with Wallstrom on that.

"This is part of her mandate. It's just men wearing different colored uniforms, that's all," she said. "There's just a general reluctance to take this issue on because look at what happens to people who do."

The United Nations condemns all forms of sexual exploitation and requires peacekeepers to undergo training in sexual violence and abuse before they begin their service. But international military immunity means the U.N. can only recall peacekeepers. From there member nations are often charged with investigating the allegations of abuse.

The duty is sometimes neglected, said Ivan Barbalic, permanent representative of Bosnia-Herzegovina to the U.N., during the post-screening discussion.

"There's a tendency to cover up and protect even in the fact-finding phase," he said. "There must be participation from headquarters to make sure this is partial and objective."

Movie director Kondracki also noted that top officials in U.N. headquarters should be scrutinized just as carefully as peacekeepers for their moral and legal conduct.

"This is not just about peacekeepers on the ground. We have videos of high-level diplomats walking around U.N. headquarters with people they purchased," she said during the forum.

By that point in the discussion period, Ban had left the room.


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Amy Lieberman is a correspondent at the United Nations Headquarters and a freelance writer in New York City.

For more information:

"The Whistleblower" movie:

United Nations Peacekeeping:

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom:

3 COMMENTS | Login or Sign Up to post comments


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International Policy/United Nations

U.N. Official Calls for More Female Peacekeepers

When will the world of women begin to deal with the fact that we are ruled by patriarchy and until that changes, women and girls will continue to be abused by men and boys! Enuf moaning and groaning about it - let's change the world!~It does not need to be this way.

A few minutes ago, I left a comment to this, that I hope has been received by Women's enews. I intended to add another comment, but I clicked the save button instead of the preview button to add the last part of the comment, so, here it is here:
I worry that this film will be used by dangerous men to push the idea that women cannot successfully resist the abuse of women. Thus, that this film, no matter what good it does, it will also be shown to women by dangerous men to emphasize to vulnerable girls and women that it is hopeless for them to speak out or to resist. Kathy Bolcovac was not successful in helping ANY of the girls and women she attempted to help - that is the other message of this film! It has been reinforced by Ban Ki Moon and the rest of the UN male staff and many of the female staff for whom their jobs are more important than that they make certain that this changes!
Women need to really, really press this issue! Destroy the bullies and murderers of young girls and women!

Unaware that this film is so new, and having read Kathy Bolcovac's story in her book form, also published this year, I watched the film twice while in a plane last weekend. I was horrified all over again at the absence of humanity by these traffickers who are the worst offenders in this dreadful reality, and by the UN and other men who were and are working toward peace and respecting rights. It is quite clear that they all see this as men's rights, and that women are to be used.
Women MUST be much more represented in the peacekeeping forces and in the private companies who are given contracts to work in these areas when war is the main focus. By much more represented, I mean at least 50% of the peacekeepers must be women! I mean that when women's rights are being abused, that this is not only a problem for women, it is also a problem for men, that men must be held accountable for their actions that harm women, whether the harm is done by a local male or a UN male or a male from a private company that has a contract there.
One of the most significant problems was the immunity of peacekeepers, such that they are able to not be prosecuted in the offended country and when they return home, they are not prosecuted in their home countries because the crime did not occur there, and the old-boys-club makes sure to keep it that way.
The young teens in this film are just girls who believed they were being helped to get a temporary, respectable job in another country, with a higher salary than they could obtain at home. The UN men who collaborated in the trafficking of them saw them as 'war-whores' for whom they had no sympathy and did not see them as they would their own sisters or daughters. Rather, they collaborated in making certain that these young women were tortured and even killed if they began to resist their fate.
This is a terrible, terrible reality, and people must stop the destruction of young girls and women in war areas through the acts of the warring parties, civilian mercenaries, and UN and private men who are in the nation apparently to help in a non-partisan way. They are not non-partisan to girls and women!
Kathy Bolcovac was unable to actually help ANY of the abused girls and women in Bosnia; that is the dreadful reality of this! A fact that a somewhat scary male on the plane made known to me, as if to emphasize that to him, the film was about threatening any woman, including me, who believes that any other fate is deserved by women, that men can rough us around all they want. This man was a stranger on the plane, and this non-verbal message was given as he walked in front of me, put on his Harley-Davidson jacket, and left the plane.