UN Peacekeeping Economies and Local Sex Industries: Connections and Implications
“Peacekeeping economies” have not been subject to much analysis of either their economic or socio-cultural and political impacts. This paper uses a gendered lens to explore some ramifications and lasting implications of peacekeeping economies, drawing on examples from four post-conflict countries with past or ongoing United Nations peacekeeping missions: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Liberia, and Haiti. The paper is particularly concerned with the interplay between the peacekeeping economy and the sex industry. It examines some of the characteristics and impacts of peacekeeping economies, arguing that these are highly gendered – but that the “normalization” of peacekeeping economies allows these effects to be overlooked or obscured. It also contends that these gendered characteristics and impacts have (or are likely to have) broad and lasting consequences. Finally, the paper considers the initial impacts of UN efforts to tackle negative impacts of peacekeeping economies, particularly the zero-tolerance policy against sexual exploitation and the effort to “mainstream” gender and promote gender equality in and through peacekeeping. The paper suggests that the existence and potential longterm perpetuation of a highly gendered peacekeeping economy threatens to undermine the gender goals and objectives that are a component of most peace operations.
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