The United Nations has taken a step forward  in acknowledging the involvement of UN personnel in a human trafficking ring in post-war Bonsia by hosting a screening of the film, "The Whistleblower", at its New York headquarters (October 13). The purpose of the screening was to promote the organization's new ''Zero-tolerance policy'' towards human rights violations perpetrated by UN personnel.

The film made headlines by exposing the real life story of Kathryn Bolkovac, hired by a private US security contractor in 1999 to recruit American peacekeepers for the UN mission in Bosnia. The film exposes the appalling reality of human trafficking and the involvement of UN peacekeepers and officials.

Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon addressed the audience and underlined  the progress made by the UN since the events, stating that the organization has made considerable progress "to prevent and punish such terrible abuses”.  Measures include the creation of codes of conduct and establishment of conduct and discipline units in peacekeeping operation.

Along with a stricter policy for recruiting UN personnel, the Secretary General noted that certain peacekeeping missions have initiated curfews and tidentified areas considered 'out-of-bounds' for UN personnel. In addition, he said, reports of violations by UN personnel are to be closely investigated by the UN with the possibility of repatriation and legal prosecution in the country of origin.

Also present at the event was Madeleine Rees, former head of the Women’s Rights and Gender Unit for the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).  Rees, played in the film by actress Vanessa Redgrave, helped to expose the allegations of human trafficking along with Bolkovac.

Following the 2009 UN reform, a Dispute Tribunal and an Appeals Tribunal became operational,which were major steps in assuring an operational internal justice system.  This system consolidates the UN response to allegations of violations and how for UN staff is to be held accountable for their actions.

Last month, four Uruguayan peacekeepers serving in the UN mission in Haiti were repatriated and placed in preventive detention for their alleged involvement in a sexual assault case on an 18-year-old Haitian man.

[Read more in the Global Journal magazine]