WASHINGTON – Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) successfully offered a resolution entitled “Combating involvement in trafficking in human beings and sexual exploitation and abuse by international peacekeeping forces” to the declaration of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Annual Session. Smith serves as the OSCE PA’s Special Representative on Human Trafficking.
“By adopting this resolution, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly will call for an end to trafficking in human beings, and other forms of sexual exploitation and abuse by members of peacekeeping contingents,” said Co-Chairman Smith, Co-Head of the U.S. Delegation to the OSCE PA. “I’m gratified that my resolution was endorsed by the Human Rights Committee today and I expect it to be endorsed by the full Assembly tomorrow morning. Parliamentarians then need to follow through on its recommendation in their national legislatures.”
“In the past, the lack of appropriate codes of conduct for international personnel, including military service members, contractors, and international organizations’ employees, limited the ability to counter sexual exploitation and trafficking. That is finally changing,” said Smith.
The need for control and accountability for peacekeeping operations was highlighted credible evidence surfaced of more than 150 allegations against personnel serving with the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Exploitation typically involved peacekeepers’ sexual contact with Congolese women and girls, some as young as 11, in exchange for food or small sums of money. The resolution expressed disgust at the sexual exploitation and abuse perpetrated by these peacekeeping forces.
“It is a sad fact that international peacekeeping troops, international aid workers, government contractors in post-conflict environments have in the past contributed to the demand for trafficking of women and girls into sexual exploitation,” said Smith. “My resolution calls on governments to ensure that their citizens, when deployed abroad, are not involved in any way, shape or form with the exploitation of victims of human trafficking or the sexual exploitation or abuse of local populations.”
The 317-member Assembly is the parliamentary dimension of the OSCE, whose primary task is “to facilitate inter-parliamentary dialogue.”