Book review: Olivera Simic, Regulation of sexual conduct in UN peacekeeping operations

Much has been written about UN peacekeepers, involvement in trafficking and sexual exploitation of local women since the first reports on the issue started appearing in the mid-1990s. This book by Olivera Simic shifts the focus towards women’s agency and freedom of choice. Simic states that the UN’s response to these allegations bans almost all sexual activity between peacekeepers and local women, and argues that these policies contribute to the continued victimisation of women, and may be at the expense of the rights to privacy, liberty, autonomy and bodily integrity and the sexual rights of both local women and peacekeepers. Simic provides a refreshing and well-written analysis, building on feminist perspectives and international human rights law, as well as fieldwork in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The reader is challenged with questions about agency and human rights, and the difference between exploitative and non-exploitative sexual conduct She argues that future UN policies on sexual conduct in peacekeeping operations should be informed by local women’s knowledge and peacekeepers’ views, and should be grounded in the frameworks of international human rights law.