Skip to main content Accessibility help

Reputation as a Disciplinarian of International Organizations

  • Kristina Daugirdas (a1)

As a disciplinarian of international organizations, reputation has serious shortcomings. Even though international organizations have strong incentives to maintain a good reputation, reputational concerns will sometimes fail to spur preventive or corrective action. Organizations have multiple audiences, so efforts to preserve a “good” reputation may pull organizations in many different directions, and steps taken to preserve a good reputation will not always be salutary. Recent incidents of sexual violence by UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic illustrate these points.

Hide All

For excellent comments and helpful discussions, I thank Nicholas Bagley, Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Kristen Boon, Andrew Clapham, Monica Hakimi, Don Herzog, Vic Khanna, Nico Krisch, Nina Mendelson, Julian Mortenson, Jide Nzelibe, Anne Peters, Steve Ratner; the current and former UN officials who spoke with me; workshop participants at the ASIL Midyear Meeting, the Graduate Institute in Geneva, and the University of Michigan; and the anonymous reviewers. For outstanding research assistance, I thank Adele Daniel, Madison Kavanaugh, Kate Powers, and Marissa Perry.

Hide All

1 Sandra Laville, UN Aid Worker Suspended for Leaking Report on Child Abuse by French Troops, Guardian (Apr. 29, 2015), at

2 See, e.g., Secretary-General's Remarks to the Security Council Meeting on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (Mar. 10, 2016), at (“First of all, I would like to thank you for your initiative in organizing this very important subject, which has a lot to do with our reputation and of our work in the future.”); UN SCOR, 71st Sess., 7642d mtg. at 7–8, 11, 18, 21, UN Doc. S/PV.7642 (Mar. 10, 2016) (statements from China, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, New Zealand, and the secretary-general); UN Press Release, Addressing Sexual Exploitation, Abuse Cases Involving Peacekeepers Requires Swift Accountability, Decisive Action, Speakers Tell General Assembly, UN Doc. GA/11819 (Sept. 7, 2016), at (statements from Jordan, Sweden, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and China that addressed reputational harm to the United Nations).

3 SC Res. 2272 (Mar. 11, 2016).

4 MINUSCA Press Release, New Allegations of Sexual Abuse Emerge Against MINUSCA Peacekeepers (Feb. 4, 2016), at

5 UN's CAR Envoy Gaye Sacked Over Peacekeeper Abuse Claims, BBC (Aug. 12, 2015), at

6 UN Press Release, Secretary-General Creates High-Level Task Force to Improve United Nations Approach for Preventing, Addressing Sexual Abuse, UN Doc. SG/A/1697 (Jan. 6, 2017).

7 Guglielmo Verdirame, The United Nations and Human Rights: Who Guards the Guardians 215–18 (2011); Ndulo, Muna, The United Nations Responses to the Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Women and Girls by Peacekeepers During Peacekeeping Missions, 27 Berkeley J. Int'l L. 127, 141–46 (2009).

8 See generally Grant, Ruth W. & Keohane, Robert O., Accountability and Abuses of Power in World Politics, 99 Am. Pol. Sci. Rev. 29 (2005) (identifying and analyzing source of accountability of international organizations).

9 While tort victims rarely have access to alternative remedies, individuals who have a contractual relationship with the organization do more often. For example, the employees of international organizations are usually able to turn to specialized administrative tribunals, and private individuals or firms that contract with international organizations may negotiate waivers that provide for dispute settlement.

10 For an earlier example, see Macaulay, Stewart, Non-contractual Relations in Business: A Preliminary Study (1963), 28 Am. Soc. Rev. 55 (1963); Robert Ellickson, Order Without Law (1991); see also infra note 23.

11 Andrew T. Guzman, How International Law Works 33–41, 71–117 (2008); Brewster, Rachel, Unpacking the State's Reputation, 50 Harv. Int'l L.J. 231 (2009); Robert E. Scott & Paul B. Stephan, The Limits of Leviathan: Contract Theory and the Enforcement of International Law (2006); Simmons, Beth, International Law and State Behavior: Commitment and Compliance in International Monetary Affairs, 94 Am. Pol. Sci. Rev. 819 (2000).

12 See, e.g., David Vogel, The Market for Virtue (2005). Indeed, regulations that require information disclosure on such topics are designed to operate by raising the reputational stakes. See Sarfaty, Adam S. Chilton & Galit A., The Limitations of Supply Chain Disclosure Regimes, 57 Stan. J. Int'l L. 1 (2017); James T. Hamilton, Regulation Through Revelation: The Origin, Politics, and Impacts of the Toxics Release Inventory Program (2005).

13 Daniel Carpenter, Reputation and Power: Organizational Image and Pharmaceutical Regulation at the FDA (2010); Charles R. Epp, Making Rights Real: Activists, Bureaucrats, and the Creation of the Legalistic State (2009) (concluding that lawsuits prompted U.S. police departments to revise their policies on use of force and handling claims of abuse not because the lawsuits imposed financial costs, but because they threatened the defendants’ professional reputations); Judge, Kathryn, The Federal Reserve: A Study in Soft Constraints, 78 L. & Contemp. Probs. 65 (2015); Parrillo, Nicholas R., The Endgame of Administrative Law: Governmental Disobedience and the Judicial Contempt Power, 131 Harv. L. Rev. 685 (2018); Chiang, Emily, Institutional Reform Shaming, 120 Penn St. L. Rev. 53 (2015)

14 For an important exception, see Johnstone, Ian, Do International Organizations Have Reputations?, 7 Int'l Orgs. L. Rev. 235, 239 (2010). Some of my own work has explored reputation in connection with the introduction of cholera to Haiti by UN peacekeepers. See Daugirdas, Kristina, Reputation and the Responsibility of International Organizations, 25 Eur. J. Int'l L. 991, 1013 (2014) [hereinafter Daugirdas 2014]; Kristina Daugirdas, Reputation and Accountability: Another Look at the United Nations’ Response to the Cholera Epidemic in Haiti, __ Int'l Orgs. L. Rev. ___ (forthcoming 2019) (applying the framework set out in this Article) [hereinafter Daugirdas 2019].

15 Carpenter, supra note 13, at 18, 26.

16 Some NGOs have suggested as much. See, e.g., Bea Edwards, How to End Sexual Abuse in UN Peacekeeping Missions, Gov't Accountability Project (May 31, 2016), available at

17 Laville, supra note 1.

18 Carpenter, supra note 13, at 33 (“Reputations are composed of symbolic beliefs about an organization—its capacities, intentions, history, mission—and these images are embedded in a network of multiple audiences.”).

19 Charney, David, Nonlegal Sanctions in Commercial Relationships, 104 Harv. L. Rev. 373, 396–97 (1990) (noting, for example, that firms with good reputations can charge higher prices for its products—or attract workers while paying lower wages).

20 Carpenter, supra note 13, at 26, 54.

21 Wapner, Paul, Defending Accountability in NGOs, 3 Chi. J. Int'l L. 197, 203 (2002).

22 Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Soft Power (2004).

23 There is a large law-and-economics literature that explores reputation as a type of informal sanction and considers, among other things, whether legal penalties ought to be adjusted to account for nonlegal sanctions including reputational sanctions. See, e.g., Iacobucci, Edward M., On the Interaction Between Legal and Reputational Sanctions, 43 J. Legal Stud. 189 (2014); Mungan, Murat C., A Generalized Model for Reputational Sanctions and the (Ir)relevance of the Interactions between Legal and Reputational Sanctions, 46 Int'l Rev. L. & Econ. 86 (2016); Khanna, V.S., Corporate Criminal Liability: What Purpose Does It Serve?, 109 Harv. L. Rev. 1477 (1996).

24 Sharman, J.C., Rationalist and Constructivist Perspectives on Reputation, 55 Pol. Stud. 20, 30 (2007) (arguing that “[a]n international organization's effectiveness is inseparably bound up with judgments about the reputation of that institution”).

25 Id. at 31 (quoting Tony Porter and Michael Webb).

26 Pollman, Elizabeth & Barry, Jordan, Regulatory Entrepreneurship, 90 So. Cal. L. Rev. 383 (2017) (describing certain private firms, including Uber, making decisions to strategically violate applicable laws and regulations as part of their business model).

27 Given the uncertainty and contestation regarding many aspects of international organizations’ international legal obligations, international organizations do sometimes operate in “gray areas” where the content of their obligations is not clear. See infra Part III.E. In these situations, international organizations use a range of strategies to avoid being perceived as scofflaws. Sometimes they will comply with the relevant norm without expressly acknowledging any legal obligation to do so; sometimes they will cease the challenged conduct; and sometimes they will directly challenge the applicability of the relevant norm. See Daugirdas 2014, supra note 14, at 1012–16.

28 Jenni Lee, 7 Quotes from António Guterres, UN Found. Blog (Oct. 11, 2016), at

29 Fromageau, Edouard, The Global Water Partnership: Between Institutional Flexibility and Legal Legitimacy, 8 Int'l Orgs. L. Rev. 367, 393–94 (2011).

30 See supra note 2; see also Kieran Guilbert, UN Investigating Leaked Sex Abuse Complaints in Central African Republic, Reuters (Sept. 14, 2017), at (quoting MINUSCA spokesperson Vladimir Monteiro as saying: “It [MINUSCA] recognizes that sexual exploitation and abuse cases have severely affected the mission's credibility and reputation in the past.”); UN SC, 6942nd mtg., UN Doc. S/PV.6842 at 5 (Oct. 3, 2012) (“The Secretary-General has recalled that the first priority is the reputation of the United Nations. It is for that reason, inter alia, that in Haiti we have intensified our zero-tolerance measures against abuse of all kinds, especially the sexual abuse of minors.”) (statement of the Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti); UN SC, 6936th mtg., UN Doc. S/PV.6936 at 4 (Mar. 20, 2013) (“It is essential to our reputation that the conduct of our personnel be in conformity with the highest standards and that prompt and decisive action be taken to prevent abuse, to investigate allegations and to impose disciplinary measures where warranted.”) (statement of interim head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti); UN Will Enforce “Zero Tolerance” Policy Against Sexual Abuse, Peacekeeping Official Says, UN News (Jan. 5, 2007), at (quoting Assistant Secretary-General Jane Holl Lute as saying: “The reputation of UN peacekeeping is one of our most powerful assets, which is why we have responded over the past couple of years so strongly[.]”).

31 See, e.g., Johnstone, supra note 14, at 238; Hurd, Ian, The Strategic Use of Liberal Internationalism 59 Int'l Org. 495 (2005); Daugirdas 2014, supra note 14.

32 World Health Organization, Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (Apr. 9, 2017), available at; see also, e.g., International Monetary Fund (IMF), Code of Conduct for Staff (July 31, 1998), at (“We all have a responsibility to contribute to the good governance of the IMF and to help maintain its reputation for probity, integrity, and impartiality.”); see also id. (“You should refrain from participating in any activity that is in conflict with the interests of the IMF or would damage the IMF's reputation.”); World Intellectual Property Organization, Code of Conduct, Including Procurement Related, for WIPO Staff, available at (“The staff member should at all time behave in a way that upholds the values and the integrity and good reputation of WIPO.”).

33 Marie Deschamps, Hassan B. Jalllow & Yasmin Sooka, Report of an Independent Review on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by International Peacekeeping Forces in the Central African Republic, Taking Action on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by Peacekeepers, at 67, 75, UN Doc. A/71/99 (Dec. 17, 2015), at [hereinafter CAR Panel Report].

34 UN Press Release, The “No Excuse” Card Is Online and Ready to be Distributed (June 2, 2017), at

35 Indeed, even focusing just on professional reputation, it is possible to break out additional dimensions. See, e.g., Jack Goldsmith, Lawyerly Integrity in the Trump Administration, Lawfare (May 14, 2017), at (noting that political appointees in government have, inter alia, reputations for loyalty, competence, and the quality of their judgment).

36 Brewster, supra note 11; Jack L. Goldsmith & Eric A. Posner, The Limits of International Law 102–03 (2007), Keohane, Robert O., International Relations and International Law: Two Optics, 38 Harv. Int'l L. J. 487, 497 (1997); Kertzer, Ryan Brutger & Joshua T., A Dispositional Theory of Reputation Costs, 72 Int'l Org. 693, 699 (2018); Downs, George W. & Jones, Michael A., Reputation, Compliance, and International Law, 31 J. Legal Stud. S95 (2002).

37 Carpenter, supra note 13, at 46–47.

38 Paul B. Stephan, Reputation and Responsibility: Moving the Goalposts, EJIL: Talk! (Mar. 26, 2015), at; see also Scott & Stephan, supra note 11.

39 Barnett, Michael & Coleman, Liv, Designing Police: Interpol and the Study of Change in International Organizations, 49 Int'l Stud. Q. 593, 598 (2005) (international organizations’ claims to authority “frequently turn on the belief that they are impersonal and neutral, that is, that they are not exercising power but instead are using impartial, objective, and value-neutral knowledge to serve others… . Because their authority is premised on these beliefs, international organizations are likely to be quite attentive to this very image …”).

40 For a theoretical account of the value of independence, see Abbott, Kenneth W. & Snidal, Duncan, Why States Act Through Formal International Organizations, 42 J. Conflict Res. 3 (1998). For a narrative account of the value of the independence of the UN secretary-general, see Brian Urquhart, Hammarskjold 94–105 (1972).

41 Parrillo, supra note 13, at 791–93.

42 Cf. Gary Alan Fine, Difficult Reputations 167–68 (2001) (identifying consumers, shareholders, employees, fellow business leaders, and the general public as judges of economic figures).

43 Carpenter, supra note 13, at 10.

44 Thomas M. Franck, Nation Against Nation 121 (1985).

45 Ana Campoy, These Are the Most Popular International Organizations on Twitter, Quartz (Nov. 30, 2017), at (noting that the United Nations had 9.4 million Twitter followers in 2017 and that other international organizations likewise had millions); António Guterres, Opinion, The Rohingya are Victims of Ethnic Cleansing. The World Has Failed Them. Wash. Post. (July 10, 2018), at

46 See generally Katerina Linos, The Democratic Foundations of Policy Diffusion (2013); see also Alexander Thompson, Screening Power: International Organizations as Informative Agents, in Delegation and Agency in International Organizations 229 (Darren G. Hawkins, David A. Lake, Daniel L. Nielson & Michael J. Tierney eds., 2006).

47 See Daugirdas 2019, supra note 14 (discussing the United Nations’ concerns about its reputation on the ground in Haiti).

48 Capturing this idea, Gary Alan Fine uses the term “reputational entrepreneurs” to describe these audiences with varying resources, outlets, and interests when it comes to observing and making claims about the target. Fine, supra note 42, at 20–21 (2001); see also id. at 63 (explaining that reputational entrepreneurship “depends upon the presence of three elements: motivation, narrative facility, and institutional placement”); id. at 87 (identifying features that are critical to the success of reputational entrepreneurs: “the interests of a community, the narrative resonance of the reputation, and the institutional placement of those making claims”).

49 Daugirdas 2014, supra note 14, at 998-99. Audiences can also help shape reputation by remaining silent, and thereby ceding ground to others. Fine, supra note 42, at 60–90 (explaining how President Warren Harding's reputation for incompetence solidified in part due to the silence of those who could have supplied and supported a rival narrative).

50 Daugirdas 2014, supra note 14, at 1000–07.

51 See Brutger & Kertzer, supra note 36 (using survey data to illustrate that individuals with different policy dispositions (i.e., hawks and doves) disagree about whether certain actions related to foreign policy enhance or damage reputation).

52 See, e.g., infra note 289.

53 For a formal model demonstrating this point for private firms, see Bar-Isaac, Heski & Deb, Joyce, What Is a Good Reputation? Career Concerns with Heterogeneous Audiences, 34 Int'l J. Indus. Org. 44 (2014). See also Fine, supra note 42, at 170, 189 (identifying strategies for managing the predicaments created by multiple audiences).

54 Karpoff, Jonathan M., Lott, John R. & Wehrly, Eric W., The Reputational Penalties for Environmental Violations: Empirical Evidence, 48 J. L. & Econ. 653, 655 (2005).

55 Id. at 656–66.

56 Id.

57 Id. at 668.

58 Stewart, Richard B., Remedying Disregard in Global Regulatory Governance, 108 AJIL 211, 253–54 (2014) (rejecting the view that reputation is an accountability mechanism because, in his view, accountability mechanisms all involve a right to demand an accounting and to invoke a remedy, and an obligation on the part of the organization to render an account); Hovell, Devika, Due Process in the United Nations, 110 AJIL 1, 45 (2016) (pointing out that reputation costs do not ensure responsiveness on the part of the United Nations).

59 Vogel, supra note 12, at 70–71, 77–82 (describing Nike's shifting responses to criticisms of its labor practices by NGOs and the press).

60 See infra text accompanying notes 80–83 (describing some competing priorities that influence the positions and decisions that states take with respect to international organizations).

61 In addition, individual officials may be inclined to be responsive to the views of their states of nationality. See infra note 72.

62 See, e.g., Ban Ki-moon, Cyril Foster Lecture, University of Oxford: “Human Protection and the 21st Century United Nations” (Feb. 2, 2011), available at (“Securing the required resources and [peacekeeping] troops has consumed much of my energy. I have been begging leaders to make resources available to us.”).

63 Daugirdas, Kristina, Congress Underestimated: The Case of the World Bank, 107 AJIL 517 (2013).

64 See generally Catherine Weaver, Hypocrisy Trap (2008) (describing this dynamic).

65 Daugirdas 2014, supra note 14, at 1002 (describing NGOs making demands that the Haitian government was unable or unwilling to make); Daugirdas 2019, supra note 14.

66 Vogel, supra note 12 at 47–56, 73–74.

67 Cf. Carpenter, supra note 13, at 54 (“As a general hypothesis, we may venture the statement that when all things are considered, the more legitimate, expert, and effective a regulator is perceived to be, the more likely politicians will be to create new regulations in policy areas that the regulator governs, and the more likely politicians will be to vest significant authority and resources in the regulator.”).

68 Id. at 50.

69 Johnstone, supra note 14, at 237 (“The Managing Director of the IMF and President of the World Bank have reputations to uphold, but their reputations are not coterminous with those of the organizations.”).

70 Carpenter, supra note 13, at 43, 47–51 (observing that the idea that human beings are motivated by esteem is long held—and that “the identity and esteem of an individual often depend upon wider social evaluations of the organization to which she belongs”).

71 Id. at 48–49 (citing psychological literature that “under conditions of a public threat to an organization's identity—a scandal or an observable episode of poor performance—less attached members may exit the organization, whereas more attached members may exhibit a combination of defensive and corrective behavior”). See also Albert O. Hirschmann, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty (1970) (exploring responses by individuals to “repairable lapses” by various kinds of organizations).

72 For example, individual IO officials may be particularly eager to cultivate reputations for responsiveness to their governments of nationality, perhaps because they are thinking about future job prospects within foreign ministries. See Jacob Katz Cogan, Representation and Power in International Organization: The Operational Constitution and Its Critics, 103 AJIL 209, 231 (2009) (quoting a former UN under-secretary general for writing: “A senior UN official nominated by his or her government was … assumed to be in the Secretariat to do that government's bidding … .”); Franck, supra note 44, at 94–116.

74 Carpenter, supra note 13, at 51.

75 Kagan, Elena, Presidential Administration, 114 Harv. L. Rev. 2245 (2001).

76 Vogel, supra note 12, at 77–79.

77 Id.

78 See generally Abram Chayes & Antonia Handler Chayes, The New Sovereignty (1995).

79 See supra notes 30–31; for a recent example involving Interpol, see Interpol Presidency Vote: Russia in Surprise Loss to North Korea, BBC News (Nov. 21, 2018), at

80 According to press reports, this consideration shaped the United States’ response to the cholera outbreak in Haiti under both the Obama and Trump administrations. Colum Lynch, Trump Won't Pay a Penny for U.N. Cholera Relief Fund in Haiti, For. Pol'y (June 1, 2017), at

81 See, e.g., Vaubel, Roland, A Public Choice Approach to International Organization, 51 Pub. Choice 39, 49 (1986) (suggesting that member states may seek to enhance or preserve their own reputations by shifting blame for unpopular or unsuccessful policies to international organizations in which they participate).

82 One example is the work of the “Small Five” to enhance the accountability, transparency, and inclusiveness of the Security Council's work a view to strengthening the Council's legitimacy and effectiveness. See generally Harrington, Joanna, The Working Methods of the United Nations Security Council: Maintaining the Implementation of Change, 66 Int'l Comp. L. Q. 39 (2017).

83 See, e.g., supra note 65.

84 Oliver, Christine, Strategic Responses to Institutional Processes, 16 Acad. Mgmt. Rev. 145 (1991) (setting out a typology of institutional responses to pressure, ranging from acquiescence to defiance, and identifying factors that lead institutions to favor each response).

85 See supra note 18.

86 Meyer, John W. & Rowan, Brian, Institutionalized Organizations: Formal Structure as Myth and Ceremony, 83 Am. J. Soc. 340 (1977).

87 Id. at 350.

88 Id. at 349, 357.

89 Weaver, Gary R., Treviño, Linda Klebe & Cochran, Philip L, Integrated and Decoupled Corporate Social Performance: Management Commitments, External Pressures, and Corporate Ethics Practices, 42 Acad. Mgmt. J. 539, 541 (1999).

90 Id. at 547.

91 Id. at 542.

92 Id.

93 Sauder, Michael & Fine, Gary Alan, Arbiters, Entrepreneurs, and the Shaping of Business School Reputations, 23 Soc. F. 699 (2008).

94 Id. at 712–14. Other key studies include Oliver, supra note 84, and Nils Brunsson, The Organization of Hypocrisy (1989).

95 Weaver, supra note 64; Lipson, Michael, Peacekeeping: Organized Hypocrisy, 13 Eur. J. Int'l Rel. 5, 6 (2007); Barnettt, Michael & Coleman, Liv, Designing Police: Interpol and the Study of Change in International Organizations, 49 Int'l Stud. Q. 593 (2005).

96 Weaver, supra note 64.

97 Id. at 108, 121; see also Sebastian Mallaby, The World's Banker 174–206 (2004).

98 Weaver, supra note 64, at 123.

99 Id. at 121.

100 Id. at 118.

101 Id. at 118–19.

102 Reuber, A. Rebecca & Fischer, Eileen, Organizations Behaving Badly: When Are Discreditable Actions Likely to Damage Organizational Reputation, 93 J. Bus. Ethics 39, 41 (2009); see also Peters, Anne, International Organizations and International Law, in The Oxford Handbook of International Organizations 33, 49 (Cogan, Jacob Katz, Hurd, Ian & Johnstone, Ian eds., 2016) (“Both member states and outsiders, including affected individuals, will only be able to assess the quality of the operations of an international organization and its impact on themselves if they possess sufficient information on those operations.”).

103 Cf. Guzman, supra note 11, at 96 (“Needless to say, a violation of international law generates a reputational sanction only if some other country knows about the violation. It follows that a violation will lead to a smaller reputational loss if fewer countries know about it. By reducing the visibility of their violations, then, states reduce the reputational consequences.”); Austin Carson, Facing Off and Saving Face: Covert Intervention and Escalation Management in the Korean War, 70 Int'l Org. 103 (2016) (arguing that the leaders of governments sometimes act covertly in order to lower the reputational stakes—that is, to avoid pressure from domestic audiences or their foreign counterparts to act in a particular way); Scott Dodd, Pennsylvania Grand Jury Says Church Had a “Playbook for Concealing the Truth, N.Y. Times (Aug. 14, 2018), at (describing tactics that leaders of the Roman Catholic church in Pennsylvania used regularly for decades to conceal child sexual abuse by priests, as revealed by a grand jury report).

104 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, Feb. 13, 1946, 1 UNTS 15; see also Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the Specialized Agencies, Nov. 21, 1947, 33 UNTS 261.

105 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, supra note 104, Art. II, secs. 3–4; Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the Specialized Agencies, supra note 104, Art. III, secs. 5–6.

106 Colum Lynch, UN Halted Probe of Officers’ Alleged Role in Sex Trafficking, Wash Post. (Dec. 27, 2001) (quoting David Lamb, a former Philadelphia police officer who served as a UN human rights investigator in Bosnia, as saying: “I have to say there were credible witnesses, but I found a real reluctance on the part of the United Nations … leadership to investigate these allegations [that UN police were ‘directly involved in the enslavement of Eastern European women in Bosnian brothels’].”).

107 For detailed accounts, see Ralph R. Frerichs, Deadly River (2016); Jonathan M. Katz, The Big Truck that Went by: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster 217–44 (2014).

108 Id.

109 Pozen, David E., The Leaky Leviathan: Why the Government Condemns and Condones Unlawful Disclosures of Information, 127 Harv. L. Rev. 512 (2013).

110 See, e.g., Weaver, supra note 64, at 16 (noting that disillusioned staff members are often quite willing to share stories, draft reports, and internal correspondence, and quoting one Bank staff member who joked that “if a document is marked ‘for internal use only,’ you can bet the NGOs and newspapers will have it within twenty-four hours”).

111 See, e.g., Colum Lynch, U.N. Sex Crimes Whistle-blower Wrongly Dismissed, For. Pol'y (Sept. 16, 2011), at (“Madeleine Rees, a former UN human rights official and the inspiration for one of the heroines in the film The Whistleblower, was wrongfully dismissed from her job with the Geneva-based UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights in March 2010, according to a ruling by the United Nations’ administrative disputes tribunal.”); Colum Lynch, U.N. Whistleblower: Expose Corruption at Your Own Peril, For. Pol'y (Mar. 19, 2013), at (describing decision by UN tribunal awarding $65,000 in compensation to an American whistleblower, James Wasserstrom, who says that he was forced from his UN job in Kosovo after cooperating in an internal investigation of corruption by UN officials).

112 See, e.g., Robert G. Vaughn, The Successes and Failures of Whistleblower Laws 249–52 (2012).

113 See, e.g., David Kaye (Special Rapporteur), Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, 20, UN Doc. A/70/361 (Sept. 8, 2015).

114 Colum Lynch, “They Just Stood Watching, For. Pol'y (Apr. 7, 2014), at

115 UN Secretary-General, Statement Attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General, Review of UNAMID Reporting (Oct. 29, 2014), at (documenting five instances where “the Mission did not provide UN Headquarters with full reports on the circumstances surrounding these incidents, which involved possible wrongdoing by Government or pro-Government forces”); id. (observing that “the Mission took an unduly conservative approach to the media, maintaining silence when it could have developed a press line, even in the absence of all the facts”).

116 Colum Lynch, U.N. Whistleblower Decries “Cover-Up of a Cover-Up” Over Darfur Debacle, For. Pol'y (Oct. 29, 2014), at

117 Lynch, supra note 114. For other examples of the United Nations’ underreporting violations by a government in order to retain the support of that government for the delivery of humanitarian assistance, see Report of the Secretary-General's Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka, Nov. 2012, available at; Colum Lynch, Congolese Cover-Up, For. Pol'y (Nov. 27, 2018), at

118 Katerina Linos, How to Select and Develop International Law Case Studies: Lessons from Comparative Law and Comparative Politics, 109 AJIL 475, 482 (2015) (“A critical case is one in which a hypothesis would be least likely to hold true, as a matter of theory, and would thus serve as especially powerful evidence in support of the hypothesis.”).

119 MINUSCA, About, at For a comprehensive overview of the history of the Central African Republic, see Richard A. Bradshaw & Juan Fandos-Rius, Historical Dictionary of the Central African Republic 83–132 (2016). For a journalist's account of recent developments, see also John Lee Anderson, The Mission: A Last Defense Against Genocide, New Yorker (Oct. 20, 2014).

120 Bradshaw & Fandos-Rius, supra note 119, at 132.

121 Id. at 126, 132–33.

122 Id. at 133; MINUSCA, supra note 119.

123 SC Res. 2127, para. 28 (Dec. 5, 2013).

124 Id.

125 Id., para. 50.

126 Thus, the Security Council requested that the African Union and France report to the Security Council on the implementation of their mandates. Id., paras. 32, 50.

127 UN Secretary-General, Report of the Secretary-General on the Central African Republic, para. 35, UN Doc. S/2014/142 (Mar. 3, 2014).

128 Emmanuel Braun & Tom Miles, “Seeds of Genocide” in Central African Republic, U.N. Warns, Reuters (Jan. 17, 2014), at

129 Report of the Secretary-General on the Central African Republic, supra note 127, para. 55.

130 SC Res. 2146, paras. 20–21 (Apr. 10, 2014). The full name of MINUSCA is the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic.

131 CAR Panel Report, supra note 33, at 17.

132 Id.; Nick Cumming-Bruce, U.N. Official Says French Learned Early of Abuse, N.Y. Times (Oct. 15, 2015), at

133 CAR Panel Report, supra note 33, at 17.

134 Id.

135 Id.

136 Id.

137 See supra note 1.

138 Id.

139 UN Press Release, Secretary-General Appoints Independent Review Panel on UN Response to Allegations of Sexual Abuse by Foreign Military Forces in Central African Republic, UN Press Release SG/SM/16864-SG/A/1578 (June 22, 2015), at

140 CAR Panel Report, supra note 33, at 2.

141 Angelique Chrisafis, French Soldiers Interrogated in Child Sex Abuse Inquiry, Guardian (Dec. 8, 2015).

142 Benoît Morenne, No Charges in Sexual Abuse Case Involving French Peacekeepers, N.Y. Times (Jan. 6, 2017), at

143 Child Rape Allegations Against French Troops in C.A.R. Dismissed, AfricaNews (Jan. 15, 2018), at

144 UN Mission in Central African Republic Opens Investigation into Sexual Abuse Claims, UN News Centre (June 4, 2015), at (acknowledging the UN office in Bangui received an allegation that a peacekeeper had engaged in “sexual abuse of an underage person”); AFP, New Child Sex Abuse Claims Target UN Peacekeepers in Central African Republic, Telegraph UK (June 24, 2015), at (describing new allegations that UN peacekeepers had sexually abused street children in Bangui); Somini Sengupta, Police Officer With U.N. Force in Central African Republic Is Accused of Rape, N.Y. Times (Aug. 11, 2015), at (describing Amnesty International report that accused UN police from Cameroon and Rwanda of indiscriminately firing at civilians in Bangui and of raping a twelve-year-old girl).

145 Full Transcript of Secretary-General's Remarks to Press on the Central African Republic (Aug. 12, 2015), at

146 UN Press Release, Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General (Aug. 12, 2015), at

147 Id.

148 Id.

149 Somini Sengupta, 3 Peacekeepers Accused of Rape in Central African Republic, N.Y. Times (Aug. 19, 2015), at

150 Id.

151 UN Secretary-General, Children and Armed Conflict, Annex I, UN Doc. A/68/878-S/2014/339 (May 15, 2014). Somini Sengupta, U.N. Officials Warned That Congolese Soldiers Were Linked to Rape, N.Y. Times (Mar. 17, 2016), at

152 UN Secretary-General, Report of the Secretary General on the Situation in the Central African Republic, UN Doc. S/2014/857 (Nov. 28, 2014).

153 UN Press Release, Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General (Jan. 8, 2016), at (citing lack of progress in meeting UN requirements for “equipment, vetting and preparedness”).

154 UN Secretary-General, Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, para. 25, UN Doc. A/70/729 (Feb. 16, 2016) (providing data on allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse from January 1 to December 31, 2015) [hereinafter 2016 SEA Report]; Somini Sengupta, U.N. Officials Warned That Congolese Soldiers Were Linked to Rape, N.Y. Times (Mar. 17, 2016), at; Anthony Banbury, Opinion, I Love the U.N., but It Is Failing, N.Y. Times (Mar. 18, 2016), at

155 See supra note 151.

156 Colum Lynch, The U.N. Official Who Blew the Lid off Central African Republic Sex Scandal Vindicated, For. Pol'y (Dec. 17, 2015), at The CAR Panel Report concluded that Onana had abused his authority. CAR Panel Report, supra note 33, at 7.

157 CAR Panel Report, supra note 33, at 7.

158 Id. at 32–35, 52–54 (describing how Onana included the allegations in a report about re-hatting MISCA soldiers for MINUSCA, and in a report on a comprehensive report on human rights violations committed by all foreign forces in the Central African Republic, and noting that the latter was never even finalized).

159 Id. at 61.

160 Cf. Daugirdas 2019, supra note 14 (quoting an NGO advocate criticizing the United Nations’ handling of the cholera outbreak in Haiti saying: “The way to contribute to public anger is to lie.”).

161 CAR Panel Report, supra note 33, at 51–52.

162 UN Press Release, Press Briefing Note on Central African Republic, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Cécile Pouilly (Apr. 1, 2014), at

163 Id.

164 Steve Niko & Krista Larson, Chad Pulls Troops from Central Africa; Decries Scrutiny After Peacekeepers Fired into Crowd, Boston Globe (Apr. 4, 2014).

165 Id.

166 Id.

167 CAR Panel Report, supra note 33, at 51–52.

168 See, e.g., SC Res. 1264, para. 9 (Sept. 15, 1999) (“stresses that the expenses for the force will be borne by the participating Member States concerned”). See generally Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Interactions Between Universal and Regional International Organizations (2017).

169 Envoyé spécial : Viols en Centrafrique: l'armée savait-elle plus tôt qu'elle ne le dit?, France 2 (Oct. 2, 2015), at [hereinafter France 2 Envoyé spécial]; see also Nick Cumming-Bruce, U.N. Official Says French Learned Early of Abuse, N.Y. Times (Oct. 14, 2015), at For a discussion of subsequent events, see infra Part III.D.2.

170 CAR Panel Report, supra note 33, at 46.

171 Angelique Chrisafis & Sandra Laville, Hollande: No Mercy Over Claims French Soldiers Abused Children in CAR, Guardian (Apr. 30, 2015), at

172 Sandra Laville, France Promises to Act After Leaked UN Report Says Its Soldiers Abused Children, Guardian (Apr. 29, 2015), at

173 Centrafrique: <<l'honneur de la France serait engagé>> déclare François Hollande, Libération (Apr. 2, 2016), at (translated by the author).

174 Comments of the Head of the Human Rights & Justice Section, MINUSCA, CAR Panel Report, supra note 33, at Appendix C.1, at para. 21.

175 Cf. Darrow, Mac & Arbour, Louise, The Pillar of Glass: Human Rights in the Development Operations of the United Nations, 103 AJIL 446, 453 (2009) (“[F]or a resident coordinator to be … declared persona non grata, that is, asked by the government to leave the country … is no badge of honor. To the contrary, experience shows that losing favor with the host government may retard senior officers’ career prospects and, in some cases, undermine or delay the implementation of the UN projects in the country concerned.”); see also supra notes 69–71 (addressing how individual reputations relate to organizational reputation).

176 The literature on rape perception identifies some of the factors that may cause individuals to blame victims or to exonerate perpetrators—and therefore not take allegations seriously. See, e.g., Grubb, Amy & Turner, Emily, Attribution of Blame in Rape Cases: A Review of the Impact of Rape Myth Acceptance, Gender Role Conformity and Substance Use on Victim Blaming, 17 Aggression & Violent Behav. 443 (2012); Anderson, Irina, What Is a Typical Rape? Effects of Victim Participant Gender in Female and Male Rape Perception, 46 Brit. J. Soc. Psych. 225 (2007).

177 Somini Sengupta, U.N. Official Accuses France of Delays in Child Sexual Abuse Case, N.Y. Times (May 9, 2015), at

178 GA Res. 48/141, para. 2(a) (Dec. 20, 1993).

179 Somini Sengupta & Nick Cumming-Bruce, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, Top Human Rights Official, Won't Seek a Second Term, N.Y. Times (Dec. 20, 2017), at

180 See, e.g., Comments of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, CAR Panel Report, supra note 33, at Appendix C.5, at 2; id. at 60.

181 Id. at Appendix C.5, at 2.

182 Id. at Appendix C.1, para. 14 & final observation iv.

183 SC Res. 2149, para. 22 (Apr. 10, 2014).

184 Sengupta, supra note 151.

185 Id.

186 UN Peacekeeping, Deployment and Reimbursement, at

187 See, e.g., Call, Chuck & Barnett, Michael, Looking for a Few Good Cops: Peacekeeping, Peacebuilding, and CIVPOL, 6 Int'l Peacekeeping 43, 51 (1999) (“Even the common, basic requirements of being able to drive a vehicle and to speak the language of the mission are not consistently met.”).

188 Kevin Sieff, “Sometimes When I'm Alone with My Baby, I Think About Killing Him. He Reminds Me of the Man Who Raped Me,” Wash. Post (Feb. 28, 2016).

189 See, e.g., William Branigin, Tarnishing U.N.’s Image in Cambodia, Wash. Post, Oct. 29, 1993, at A33 (after describing numerous misdeeds of Bulgarian peacekeepers deployed to Cambodia, closing with quotation from a UN spokesperson who said that while the Bulgarian peacekeepers had “behave[d] in a way that would make all of us blush,” repatriating the unit was out of the question because “[i]t would be a terrible insult”).

190 See, e.g., comments by Egypt during the Security Council debate leading to the adoption of Security Council Resolution 2272: “Egypt believes that cases of sexual exploitation and abuse should not be used as a tool to attack troop-contributing countries or their reputation, or to undermine the significant sacrifice they are undertaking to re-establish peace and security for civilians.” UN SCOR, 71st Sess., 7642d mtg., at 10, UN Doc. S/PV.7642 (Mar. 10, 2016).

191 See also Bellamy, Alex J. & Williams, Paul D., Explaining the National Politics of Peacekeeping Contributions, in Providing Peacekeepers: The Politics, Challenges, and Future of United Nations Peacekeeping Contributions 417, 420 (Bellamy, Alex J. & Williams, Paul D. eds., 2013) (identifying “the potential for peacekeeping to damage the national reputation” as a political factor inhibiting participation in peacekeeping); Victor, Jonah, African Peacekeeping in Africa: Warlord Politics, Defense Economics, and State Legitimacy, 4 J. Peace Res. 217 (2010) (evaluating participation of African states in peacekeeping operations in Africa, and finding that states that are poorer, with lower state legitimacy and lower political repression, participate more often in regional peacekeeping).

192 See, e.g., Chris McGreal, Stop Protecting Peacekeepers Who Rape, Ban Ki-moon Tells UN Member States, Guardian (Sept. 17, 2015), at (“Some countries, notably Nigeria, Rwanda and India, have threatened to pull their troops out of peacekeeping if they are exposed publicly on abuses, sexual and otherwise.”). For a parallel example involving a threat to withhold funding if the secretary-general included Saudi Arabia in a report documenting abuses of children during armed conflict, see Colum Lynch, U.N. Chief Says He Went Soft on Saudi Arabia and Allies to Avoid Aid Cut, For. Pol'y (June 9, 2016), at

193 SC Res. 2272, para. 2 (Mar. 11, 2016).

194 UN SC, 7643d Mtg., Mar. 11, 2016, UN Doc. S/PV.7643, at 2.

195 Id.

196 Id.

197 Ngaire Woods, The Globalizers 4 (2006); Weaver, supra note 64, at 58–59.

198 See supra notes 63–64 and accompanying text.

199 UN Secretary-General's Bulletin, Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, UN Doc. ST/SGB/2003/13 (Oct. 9, 2003) [hereinafter SEA Bulletin]

200 See, e.g., Audrey Gillan & Peter Moszynski, Aid Workers in Food for Child Sex Scandal, Guardian (Feb. 27, 2002); see also Rep. of the Off. of Internal Oversight Servs. on the Investigation into Sexual Exploitation of Refugees by Aid Workers in West Africa, UN Doc. A/57/465 (Oct. 11, 2002) [hereinafter OIOS West Africa Report].

201 Lipson, supra note 95, at 10, 18.

202 CAR Panel Report, supra note 33, at 16.

203 OIOS West Africa Report, supra note 200, at 7.

204 OIOS established an investigative team comprised professional investigators, lawyers, refugee protection and human rights specialists, translators, and a pediatric trauma specialist. Over a period of six months, the investigators observed camp activities in the three countries and conducted nearly three hundred individual interviews. Id. at 6, 14.

205 Id. at 11.

206 SEA Bulletin, supra note 199, sec. 3.2(a).

207 Id., sec. 2.2.

208 Letter Dated 24 March 2005 from the Secretary-General to the President of the General Assembly, UN Doc. A/59/710 (Mar. 24, 2005).

209 Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein (Permanent Rep. of Jordan), A Comprehensive Strategy to Eliminate Future Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, 12, UN Doc. A/59/710 (Mar. 24, 2005) [hereinafter 2005 SEA Report].

210 CAR Panel Report, supra note 33, at 4.

211 UN Secretary-General's Bulletin, Staff Regulations and Rules of the United Nations, Art. X, Regulation 10.1, UN Doc. ST/SGB/2017/1 (Dec. 30, 2016).

212 2005 SEA Report, supra note 209, at 13; GA Res. 61/267B (July 24, 2007); UN GAOR, Report of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations and its Working Group, General Assembly Official Records, 61st Sess., Supp. No. 19, UN Doc. A/61/19/Rev.1, Annex.

213 UN Secretary-General, Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, para. 23, UN Doc. A/63/720 (Feb. 17, 2009).

214 See GA Res. 70/286, para. 74 (June 17, 2016).

215 Report of the Secretary-General, Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse: A New Approach, at para. 61, UN Doc. A/71/818 (Feb. 28, 2017) [hereinafter 2017 SEA Report].

216 See, e.g., Geoffrey York, Failure to Act on Sex Abuse by UN Peacekeepers Undermines Missions: Dallaire, Globe & Mail (Canada) (May 14, 2015) (quoting Roméo Dallaire, who commanded the beleaguered UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, using the phrase), at

217 Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, Opinion, How the U.N. Is Countering Child Sex Abuse by Its Troops, Newsweek (Mar. 30, 2016), at (“I make one point in all my conversations, whether with our military and police or with representatives of local populations: the days of silence are over.”).

218 See Laville, supra note 1.

219 See, e.g., Colum Lynch, Exclusive: U.N. Drops Leak Investigation into Human Rights Official in CAR Sex Scandal, For. Pol'y (Jan. 15, 2016), at; Agence France-Presse, Whistleblower Who Exposed Food-for-Sex Child Sex Among Peacekeepers Resigns Over UN “Impunity, Telegraph (June 7, 2016), at

220 CAR Panel Report, supra note 33, at Appendix. C.1 at para. 9.

221 Id. at Annex B, Comments of Head of the Human Rights & Justice Section, MINUSCA, para. 9.

222 See supra notes 135–136 and accompanying text.

223 CAR Panel Report, supra note 33, at 36.

224 These reports are produced pursuant to GA Res. 57/306 (May 22, 2003).

225 In June 2016, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that requested the secretary-general to “to include in future reports [on sexual exploitation and abuse] information on allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by non-United Nations forces operating under a Security Council Mandate.” GA Res. 70/286, para. 82 (July 8, 2016). The 2017 report on SEA included those allegations for the first time. See 2017 SEA Report, supra note 215.

226 SC Res. 1612, paras. 2–3 (July 26, 2005).

227 Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) on Grave Violations Against Children in Situations of Armed Conflict, Field Manual, at 15–16 (2014), available at

228 CAR Panel Report, supra note 33, at 38.

229 The question is both controversial and important because the answer, among other things, determines whether peacekeepers can be lawful targets. See, e.g., D.W. Bowett, United Nations Forces: A Legal Study 484–516 (1964); Dietrich Schindler, United Nations Forces and International Humanitarian Law, in Studies and Essays on International Humanitarian Law and Red Cross Principles 521 (Christopher Swinarski ed., 1984); Greenwood, Christopher, Protection of Peacekeepers: The Legal Regime, 7 Duke J. Comp. & Int'l L. 185 (1996); Tittemore, Brian D., Belligerents in Blue Helmets: Applying International Humanitarian Law to United Nations Peace Operations, 33 Stan. J. Int'l L. 61 (1997); Whittle, Devon, Peacekeeping in Conflict: The Intervention Brigade, MONUSCO, and the Application for International Humanitarian Law to United Nations Forces, 46 Geo. J. Int'l L. 837 (2015).

230 Laville, supra note 1.

231 Daugirdas 2019, supra note 14 (identifying a similar inflection point in connection with the United Nations’ response to the cholera outbreak in Haiti).

232 UN Secretary-General, Children and Armed Conflict, para. 44, UN Doc. A/69/926-S/2015/409 (June 5, 2015); UN Secretary-General, Children and Armed Conflict, para. 43, UN Doc. A/70/836-S/2016/360 (Apr. 20, 2016).

233 See supra notes 144, 149–150 (newspaper stories that rely in part on information provided by official UN sources).

234 United Nations, Conduct in UN Field Missions: Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Table of Allegations, at; see also 2017 SEA Report, supra note 215, para. 70 (“[T]he global public has long become accustomed to learning of serious social transgressions through news outlets in addition to official sources. The United Nations must responsibly and regularly make use of respected news outlets in the service of greater transparency and accountability. My Spokesperson will establish a system to ensure that appropriate facts regarding credible reports of sexual exploitation and abuse are publicly and regularly released to the media, as standard practice.”).

235 United Nations, Conduct in UN Field Missions: Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Alleged Perpetrators, at

236 CAR Panel Report, supra note 33, at 65.

237 Id.

238 Laville, supra note 1.

239 CAR Panel report, supra note 33, at 66.

240 Id. at 57, n. 239 & Appendix A, para. 26.

241 Id. at Appendix C.5, at 3.

242 Starting in the fall of 2015, Kompass was under investigation for sharing information with Morocco for these reasons. The investigation did not substantiate this claim, but some of Kompass's colleagues continued to believe that this personal agenda motivated his disclosures to both Morocco and France. Id., Appendix C.5, at 1–2; Colum Lynch, Exclusive: U.N. Drops Leak Investigation into Human Rights Official in CAR Sex Scandal, For. Pol'y, at Ironically, Kompass was accused of trying to curry favor with the French government by sharing exactly the same information that Kompass's colleagues in Bangui viewed as radioactive.

243 See supra notes 180–182.

244 CAR Panel Report, supra note 33, at 69.

245 Sandra Laville, UN Whistleblower Who Exposed Sexual Abuse by Peacekeepers is Exonerated, Guardian (Jan.18, 2016), at

246 Darrow & Arbour, supra note 175, at 452 (“The troubling reality is that the United Nations internal incentives, accountability systems, and support structures do not generally tend to encourage courageous positions… . To the contrary, the more discernible tendency has been toward risk aversion.”).

247 See supra note 169.

248 See supra note 170; Chine Labbé, Information judiciaire sur des soldats français en Centrafrique, Reuters France (May 7, 2015), at

249 See supra note 171.

250 France 2 Envoyé spécial, supra note 169; Labbé, supra note 248.

251 France 2 Envoyé spécial, supra note 169.

252 Labbé, supra note 248; Aurelien Breeden, France Opens Criminal Inquiry into Charges of Abuse by Peacekeepers in Africa, N.Y. Times (May 7, 2015).

253 Labbé, supra note 248 (translated by the author).

254 UN Press Release, Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General (May 8, 2015), at (ellipses in original). This description accords with the United Nations’ standard practices. See The Conventions on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations and Its Specialized Agencies: A Commentary 92–93 (August Reinisch ed., 2016).

255 France 2 Envoyé spécial, supra note 169.

256 This is another example of the way that silence helps to shape reputations. See supra note 49.

257 CAR Panel Report, supra note 33, at 56.

258 Id. at 95.

259 Report of the Secretary General, Combating Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, para. 74, UN Doc. A/71/97 (June 23, 2016).

260 For a sampling, see UN Press Release, Sexual Exploitation “Utterly Immoral,” Completely at Odds with United Nations Mission, Says Secretary-General to New York Conference, UN Doc. SG/SM/10776-PKO/156 (Dec. 4, 2006), at (Kofi Annan); Full Transcript of the Secretary-General's Remarks to Press on the Central African Republic, Aug. 12, 2015, at (Ban Ki-moon); Combating “Scourge” of Sexual Abuse Allegations Remains “Key” UN Priority, as 54 New Allegations Emerge, UN News (May 1, 2018), at

261 Draft Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations with Commentaries, Art. 4, in Report of the International Law Commission on Its Sixty-third Session, UN Doc. A/66/10 (2011) [hereinafter Draft Articles].

262 Id. Arts. 6, 7, 9.

263 Draft Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, with Commentaries, Arts. 4 7, UN Doc. A/56/10 (2001).

264 See supra notes 125–126 and accompanying text.

265 Draft Articles, supra note 261, ch. II, cmt. (5).

266 Id., Art. 7.

267 Id. Art. 7, cmt. (4).

268 Tom Dannenbaum, Translating the Standard of Effective Control into a System of Effective Accountability, 51 Harv. Int'l L.J. 113, 163 (2010)

269 Id. at 142–48.

270 Id. at 148–50.

271 Id. at 150; see also supra note 192 (describing such threats in relation to allegations of sexual violence).

272 CAR Panel Report, supra note 33, at 4 (“In the course of the Review it became clear that in the eyes of many UN staff, the human rights framework does not apply to allegations of sexual violence by peacekeepers. As a result, where there is an allegation that a peacekeeper not operating under UN command has sexually assaulted a civilian (and the SEA Policies do not apply), some UN staff take the view that the UN has no obligation, or indeed authority, to address the reported sexual violence.”).

273 Id. at 38 (“When looking at the [UN's] human rights policy framework, it is clear that the UN has the responsibility to address acts of sexual violence as human rights violations and potential violations of international humanitarian law and international criminal law. This includes the obligation to investigate the incidents, report both internally and publicly on the violations, protect the victims and work to hold the perpetrators accountable.”).

274 REDRESS, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Peacekeeping Operations Report 37 (2017), available at

275 UN Charter Art. 55.

276 Compare Daugirdas, Kristina, How and Why International Law Binds International Organizations, 57 Harv. Int'l L.J. 325 (2016) (arguing that customary international law and general principles do bind international organizations) with Klabbers, Jan, Sources of International Organizations’ Law: Reflections on Accountability, in The Oxford Handbook on the Sources of International Law 987 (Besson, Samantha & d'Aspremont, Jean eds., 2017) (arguing only some such rules bind international organizations).

277 Nuclear Tests (Austl. v. Fr.), 1974 ICJ Rep. 253, 267 (Dec. 20) (holding that unilateral engagements can create binding international law commitments).

278 Crook, John R., Oil-for-Food Audits Released to U.S. Congress; Widened Congressional Probes of United Nations, 99 AJIL 495, 496 (2005).

279 United Nations Secretary-General, Unofficial Transcript of the Secretary-General's Press Encounter upon Arrival to UNHQ, Feb. 4, 2005, at; see also supra note 26 and accompanying text.

280 Crook, John R., Further U.S. Reactions to Abuses in UN Oil-for-Food Program; U.S. Criminal Charges Against UN Officials, Others, 99 AJIL 904, 905 (2005). Volcker also faulted UN member states, particularly those on the Security Council, for turning a blind eye to extensive smuggling of Iraqi oil. Id.

281 See, e.g., Kofi Annan, U.N. Secretary General and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Dies at 80, Obituary, Wash. Post. (Aug. 18, 2018), at (devoting several paragraphs to describing the oil-for-food scandal).

282 Cogan, Jacob Katz, Financing and Budgets, in The Oxford Handbook of International Organizations 903, 917 (Cogan, Jacob Katz, Hurd, Ian & Johnstone, Ian eds., 2016).

283 Damian Carrington, UN Environment Chief Resigns After Frequent Flying Revelations, Guardian (Nov. 20, 2018); Somini Sengupta, U.N. Environment Envoy Quits After Audit of Expenses, N.Y. Times (Nov. 20, 2018).

284 Carrington, supra note 283.

285 Id.

286 Nina Berglund, Ousted Solheim Fires Back at UN, (Nov. 28, 2018), at (describing an article about Solheim's resignation published in Aftenposten, a leading newspaper published in Norway).

287 Id.; Carrington, supra note 283.

288 Michael Johnston, Syndromes of Corruption 10–13 (2005).

289 Compare Williams, Ian, The True UN Scandal: Who Pocketed the $10 Billion for Iraq?, 23 World Pol. J. 27 (2007) (suggesting that the conservative media made a mountain out of a molehill) with Kenneth Anderson, Living with the UN 157 (2012) (citing the “widespread belief at the United Nations and among its elite constituents that it did nothing, or at any rate very little, wrong in the oil-for-food scandal, and this was a put-up job by the United States and the Bush administration”).

290 Scholars of domestic bureaucracies have already noticed the ways that reputational concerns may reinforce organizational tendencies towards risk aversion. Carpenter, supra note 13, at 67–68 (suggesting that regulators in national governments will be reluctant to make decisions that are costly to reverse—and observing more generally that “familiarity and predictability are all the more important to reputation-conscious regulators”); id. at 56–57 (explaining how some agencies have responded to reputational damage by seeking to diminish expectations about what they can be expected to accomplish). Private firms are sometimes also risk averse when it comes to their reputations. Vogel, supra note 12, at 73 (noting that firms with highly visible brands—and in particular those that have been criticized by activists in the past—are highly risk-averse and engage in corporate social responsibility in order to avoid being singled out among their competitors).

291 Report of the Independent Inquiry into the Actions of the United Nations During the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda, at 3, UN Doc. S/1999/1257 (Dec. 15, 1999).

292 SC Res. 872 (Oct. 5, 1993).

293 SC Res. 912 (Apr. 21, 1994).

294 Michael Barnett & Martha Finnemore, Rules for the World 121 (2004).

295 Id. at 144.

296 Id. at 131, 134, 142, 144, 150.

297 For examples of such instructions, see supra note 32.

298 See, e.g., supra notes 189–196 and accompanying text.

299 Testimony of Isobel Coleman, then the US Ambassador to the United ations for Management and Reform, Do No Harm: Ending Sexual Abuse in United Nations Peacekeeping: Hearing Before the S. Comm. on Foreign Rel. 24, 114th Cong. (Apr. 13, 2016). This framing of the source of reputational harm tracks that articulated by former French President François Hollande. See supra note 173.

300 GA Res. 57/306, para. 12 (Apr. 15, 2003).

301 Chilton & Sarfaty, supra note 12, at 4.

302 Id. at 5.

303 Cf. Ndulo, supra note 7, at 132–33 (“These reports [issued pursuant to Resolution 1325] are debated in the Security Council and provide an opportunity to assess and reflect on the progress that is being made in combating sexual crimes and sexual exploitation during conflicts and in post-conflict areas and have provided opportunities to deal with sexual violence against women.”).

304 See, e.g., Associated Press, U.N. Report Describes Sex Abuse Allegations About Peacekeeping Missions, N.Y. Times (Mar. 3, 2016), at

305 See generally Grubb & Turner, supra note 176; Kanetake, Machiko, Whose Zero Tolerance Counts? Reassessing a Zero Tolerance Policy Against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by UN Peacekeepers, 17 Int'l Peacekeeping 200, 208–09 (2010).

306 Grady, Kate, Sex, Statistics, Peacekeepers and Power: UN Data on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and the Quest for Legal Reform, 79 Modern L. Rev. 931, 941–43 (2016).

307 See supra notes 190–192 and accompanying text (observing that both international organizations and states have reputational concerns).

308 2017 SEA Report, supra note 215.

309 United Nations, Preventing Sexual Exploitation and Abuse; Circle of Leadership, at

310 Id.

311 Id.

312 2017 SEA Report, supra note 215, para. 58

313 Member State Signatories to the Voluntary Compact with the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the Commitment to Eliminate Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (Oct. 5, 2018), available at

314 Report of the Secretary-General, Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse: A New Approach para 72, UN Doc. A/72/751 (Feb. 15, 2018) [hereinafter 2018 SEA Report].

315 While this step is likely to be a tough sell, the Human Rights Advisory Panel, which was established to hear claims that the UN interim administration in Kosovo had violated international human rights law, is an important precedent. The Human Rights Advisory Panel, at

316 See supra notes 180–182 and accompanying text.

317 See, e.g., Swanson, Chelsea, Devos, Elizabeth, Ricke, Chloe & Shin, Andy, Expert Workshop Session: Child Witnesses: Testimony, Evidence, and Witness Protection, 43 Ga. J. Int'l & Comp. L. 649 (2015).

318 CAR Panel Report, supra note 33, at 84 (recommending that a working group “review[] UN policies dealing with confidentiality in order to establish a proper balance between informed consent, protection, and accountability”).

319 2018 SEA Report, supra note 314, para. 38.

320 Id.

321 Hobbes, Leviathan, at ch. 10, para. 10 (1651).

322 Chayes & Chayes, supra note 78, at 124–28.

For excellent comments and helpful discussions, I thank Nicholas Bagley, Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Kristen Boon, Andrew Clapham, Monica Hakimi, Don Herzog, Vic Khanna, Nico Krisch, Nina Mendelson, Julian Mortenson, Jide Nzelibe, Anne Peters, Steve Ratner; the current and former UN officials who spoke with me; workshop participants at the ASIL Midyear Meeting, the Graduate Institute in Geneva, and the University of Michigan; and the anonymous reviewers. For outstanding research assistance, I thank Adele Daniel, Madison Kavanaugh, Kate Powers, and Marissa Perry.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Journal of International Law
  • ISSN: 0002-9300
  • EISSN: 2161-7953
  • URL: /core/journals/american-journal-of-international-law
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed