Previous research projects

Profiled projects

Mapping the impact of sexual abuse and exploitation by interveners in peace operations, La Trobe University

In the past 15 years, despite the adoption of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and the Secretary-General’s Bulletin on Zero Tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) by peacekeepers, abuse by interveners remains prevalent in peace operations. This project will be the first global study to investigate the impact of SEA by peacekeepers, aid workers, private contractors and other civilians associated with peacebuilding operations on the capacity of the international community to fulfil its goals related to promoting security, stability and peacebuilding in post-conflict contexts. Pilot case studies will be conducted in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Timor-Leste, and will generate new knowledge that has the potential to inform policy and legal reform processes and training programs both in Australia and globally.

Research partnership

This project is a collaboration between Jasmine-Kim Westendorf at La Trobe University and Humanitarian Advisory Group. Bridging the academic/practitioner divide by incorporating both perspectives during the research and analysis is essential to generating conclusions that speak to both academic and policy debates on enhancing the effectiveness of peace and emergency operations.

Two internship positions were created as part of the project have been supervised by the Humanitarian Advisory Group, in order to mentor young women entering the sphere of gender and international development/international relations. 

In 2016, the project consists of three phases:

Phase 1: Desk-based research (January-May 2016)

  • Desk-based research and identification of local community partners, including intial interviews with relevant government officials, NGOs, local civil society groups. Interviews will inform the development of the project design, focus group questions, and identify specific areas where abuse was most prevalent and where field research will focus.

Phase 2: Field research (June-September 2016)

Three researchers undertook fieldwork in Timor-Leste and Bosnia to combine practitioner and academic approaches. Research activities included:

  • Interviews with civil society and government representatives in case study countries, international organisations; individuals associated with the mission (civilian and military).
  • Interviews with officials and policy-makers at UN Headquarters in New York, and relevant CSOs. Archival research at UN Archives will also be conducted.

Phase 3: Analysis and dissemination of findings (September – December 2016)

  • Roundtable discussion with policy-makers and stakeholders in Canberra to present initial findings and invite discussion on the weaknesses of existing approaches, and possible alternatives.
  • Analysis and publication of findings.
  • Application for major external grant.


The outcomes of the research will be presented across several fora including roundtable discussions, policy papers, co-authored journal articles, conference presentations and book chapters.


Previous projects