Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 01/2014

Conduct and Discipline in Un Peacekeeping Operations: Culture, Political Economy and Gender

Catherine Lutz, Matthew C. Gutmann, Keith Brown

October 2009

Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University


Systematic patterns of sexual exploitation and abuse have emerged around UN peacekeeping missions over the course of many years. These include, most egregiously, peacekeepers’ exchange of UN food supplies or money for sex with young girls and sometimes boys as well as sexual assault. This paper examines the cultural and political economic roots of the problem, focusing on the relationship between ideas and attitudes about culture, gender, sexuality, and peacekeeping as those influence the nature and extent of SEA. It offers a political economic and cultural framework for understanding the problem, which is proposed to replace frameworks currently in broad if often tacit use in the UN.