Government and International Relations Honors Papers

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Andrew Levin

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Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) has become an increasingly prevalent problem in UN Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKOs). However, not all UNPKOs experience the same levels of SEA occurrence. What explains this variation? Existing scholarly work has offered a range of theoretical explanations, including situational factors, immunity, militarized masculinity and a culture of impunity. These theories highlight a number of important factors but fail to address the role of upper level leadership, particularly the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG). My research will seek to understand how SRSGs can influence mission culture in UNPKOs away from a culture of impunity towards a culture of appropriateness where SEA is condemned. Through applying process tracing in a comparative case study analysis of the UN Mission in Burundi (ONUB) and the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), I will examine how a SRSG’s rhetoric, mandate interpretation and implementation, and mission coordination can influence the organizational culture within UNPKOs. Overall, this paper will demonstrate that through proactive anti-SEA rhetoric, mandate interpretation and implementation, and mission coordination SRSGs are capable of creating mission cultures where SEA is not the norm, illustrating the power of effective leadership.



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.