New York: The United Nations has "zero tolerance" for sexual misconduct by international troops participating in peacekeeping missions, the UN`s special representative on sexual violence in conflict said late Tuesday.
Margot Wallstroem, appointed to the post last week by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, said that such incidents are isolated cases but cannot be neglected without damaging the reputation of peacekeeping operations and the entire United Nations.
Recurring allegations of sexual misconduct by troops from numerous countries have arisen since the 1990s during peacekeeping and stabilisation missions in Kosovo, Nepal, Haiti, Liberia and most recently the Democratic Republic of Congo. More than 300 allegations were investigated just during the 2004-06 period.
Over the years, allegations have arisen including paying and even organising of prostitutes, sexual abuse of children and outright rapes against women in conflict zones where peacekeepers were sent to protect civilian populations.
UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy said that suspects are required to immediately leave the country where the mission is being conducted, and that he pushes hard for troops to face prosecution at home.