Cairo defends abstention from UN resolution on peacekeeping sex abuse

Menna Alaa El-Din , Saturday 12 Mar 2016

UN Peacekeeping troops
File Photo: UN Peacekeeping troops (Photo: AP)

Egypt has slammed criticism related to its reservation on supporting a UN Security Council resolution that calls for the repatriation of peacekeeping units whose troops face allegations of sexual abuse.

The resolution passed 14-0 on Friday, with Egypt abstaining, after Cairo's representative described the measures being passed as libeling and "branding entire states."

The American ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, described Egypt and other states' "undermining" of the resolution as "sad" on Twitter.

Egyptian foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid responded in kind:

"What is sad is for a #UNSC Permanent Rep. to impose resolution on security council for publicity & personal ambition," he wrote.

He added that "Egypt is against sexual abuse" and "Egypt is also against undermining UNGA, collective punishment & selective approach."

In 2015, there were 69 allegations of child rape and other sexual offences by peacekeepers from 10 missions, while in 2014 there were 52.

On Friday, the UN Security Council passed for the first time a resolution that intends to combat sexual abuse by peacekeepers.

The resolution allows the secretary-general “to repatriate a particular military unit or formed police unit of a contingent when there is credible evidence of widespread or systemic sexual exploitation and abuse by that unit.”

The resolution requested that the secretary-general replace all units of the troop- or police-contributing country which the perpetrator is from if appropriate steps have not been taken by the country to investigate the allegation, when the perpetrators have not been held accountable, and/or when there has been failure to inform the secretary-general of the progress of its investigation or actions taken.

Prior to the vote, Egypt suggested a last minute amendment that entitled that all three conditions be met for the secretary-general's decision to replace all the units of the troop- or police- contributing country.

In press statements, Egypt’s UN ambassador, Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta, described the successful amendment's measures as totally unacceptable and said they would "drastically and inevitably" affect the morale of the troops.

Egypt's amendment was backed by five countries Angola, Russia, China, Egypt and Venezuela and was opposed by nine council members, including the United States. 

According to France 24, the countries argued that the issue should be addressed in the General Assembly instead; however the assembly's actions are not legally binding, unlike resolutions passed by the Security Council.

Power described the Egyptian move as one that would have “watered down” the resolution.

Nearly 106,000 UN troops and police are currently serving in 16 peacekeeping missions. As of December 2015, Egypt contributes 2,809 troops including police and military personnel.  

In August 2015, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon sacked the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic, Babacar Gaye of Senegal, following multiple allegations of series of sexual and other misconduct by peacekeepers.

"I cannot put into words how anguished and angered and ashamed I am by recurrent reports over the years of reports of sex abuse and exploitation by UN forces," said Ban last August after accepting Gaye's resignation.

Short link: