Experts in the training of peacekeepers and in investigating abuses and misconduct by UN personnel engaged an audience in a lively discussion following the screening of the film “The Whistleblower.” Using the occasion of the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, the UN Information Service (UNIS) in Vienna organized the showing of the movie with a post-screening debate on 30 May, at the Vienna International Centre (VIC).
Around 70 UN staff members and representatives of Permanent Missions, as well as interns and other guests attended the lunchtime screening of the film that deals with topics such as human trafficking, sexual violence and abuse and the misconduct of individual peacekeepers becoming involved in organized crime.
In a fictionalized account of events, “The Whistleblower” tells the story of a UN peacekeeper investigating the case of young women trafficked to Bosnia to work in forced prostitution.
The post-film panel discussion featured Riikka Puttonen, UNODC Specialist on organized crime and illicit trafficking, Anais Salvin, Investigator of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), and Lt.Col. Karl Wolf, Deputy Commander of the Austrian Armed Forces International Centre in charge of training Austrian Peacekeepers prior to deployment. With these specialists present, UNIS Director Janos Tisovszky, moderated the debate focusing on UN policy towards the misconduct of peacekeepers and possible measures of prevention.
Unfortunately, organized crime and the misconduct of individual peacekeepers are still a reality that UN peacekeeping missions have to confront. But the UN has come a long way since 1999, when the story portrayed in the film took place, and has introduced the “zero tolerance”, and 100% attention, policy for sexual exploitation and abuse, instituted by the Secretary-General. Furthermore, more robust systems have been set up to handle misconduct in peacekeeping operations, with a Conduct and Discipline Unit established in the Department of Field Support, and Conduct and Discipline Teams in each peacekeeping mission, and improved supervision and training of peacekeepers.
Delivering valuable insights into the work of peacekeeping missions and measures introduced by the UN to combat sexual violence and abuse as well as human trafficking, the event left the audience with an increased awareness of these issues.