UNsupported: the needs and rights of children fathered by UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo

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Sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) by United Nations (UN) peacekeepers causes severe physical and psychological consequences. Where SEA leads to pregnancy and childbirth, peacekeepers typically absolve themselves of their paternal responsibilities and paternity suits are largely unsuccessful. The lack of support for peacekeeper-fathered children (PKFC) tarnishes the image of the UN who fails to implement a victim-centred approach to SEA. Analysing shortcomings in the provision of support, this article presents an evaluation of the UN’s accountability system from the perspective of PKFC families. In-depth interviews with thirty-five PKFC and sixty mothers demonstrate local barriers to child support and paternity claims in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. We discuss PKFC’s need for assistance and their mothers’ attempts to navigate an opaque international legal system. The findings cast light on their limited access to UN subsidies and offer recommendations to better implement existing UN goals of justice and victim-oriented policies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-332
JournalHuman Rigthts Review
Issue number3
Early online date17 Jan 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research leading to these results received funding from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (Grant number 642571).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Sexual exploitation and abuse
  • United Nations peacekeeping
  • Paternity
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Victim support
  • Peacekeeper-fathered children


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