The Secretary-General today launched his report on Special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse: A new approach, which sets out his new strategy to combat sexual exploitation and abuse.
As the Secretary-General said in his video message “the vast majority of UN personnel serve with pride, dignity and respect for the people they assist and protect, very often in dangerous and difficult conditions and at great personal sacrifice. Yet our Organization continues to grapple with the scourge of sexual exploitation and abuse, despite great efforts over many years to address it. We need a new approach.”
The Secretary General’s strategy makes recommendations on four main areas: putting the rights and dignity of victims first; ending impunity for those guilty of crimes and abuses; drawing on the knowledge and wisdom of external partners such as civil society, local communities and experts; and, raising awareness and sharing best practices.
New mechanisms will be set in place to enforce the policy of whistle-blowers and protect staff who report cases of sexual exploitation and abuse. Senior leadership will be instructed, system-wide, to issue management letters to their governing bodies certifying that all allegations have been reported and appropriate action is taken on them. Screening mechanisms prior to recruitment or upon extension of contracts will be strengthened and a system will be established to ensure that individuals terminated from service in one part of the UN system due to substantiated allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, will not be hired in any other part of the UN system.
All individuals assigned to UN field based activities will be required to carry the “no excuses’ pocket card that restates our rules and spell out how to report allegations. A new annual written attestation will be developed for every staff member to confirm that they have read and understood United Nations’ code of conduct and the consequences of failing to abide by it. Training on sexual exploitation and abuse will become mandatory for all categories of personnel, system-wide.
Finally, as revealed by the data contained in his report, nearly all victims of sexual exploitation and abuse are women and girls. The Secretary-General is convinced that increasing the number of women throughout UN activities, including service as uniformed peacekeepers, would help advance the UN efforts to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse – which is deeply rooted in gender inequality and discrimination. The UN must, moreover, do more to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality.
The Secretary-General calls on all parties to deliver on these goals together. “Let us do so in the name of all who look to the United Nations for life-saving protection and support – and on behalf of the tens of thousands of United Nations personnel around the world who deliver that assistance with courage and commitment to the highest ideals.”
click to read the text of the S-G's message
One of my most unforgettable experiences has been listening to the victims of rape, sexual violence, exploitation and abuse.
Their haunting stories and chilling testimony will stay with me forever. Such acts of cruelty should never take place. Certainly no person serving with the United Nations in any capacity should be associated with such vile and vicious crimes. Indeed, the vast majority of UN troops and personnel serve with pride, dignity and respect for the people they assist and protect, very often in dangerous and difficult conditions and at great personal sacrifice. Yet our Organization continues to grapple with the scourge of sexual exploitation and abuse, despite great efforts over many years to address it.
We need a new approach. In my inaugural speech as Secretary-General, I pledged to work closely with Member States on structural, legal and operational measures to make zero tolerance a reality. And in my first week as Secretary-General, I established a High-Level Task Force with an urgent task: To develop an ambitious new approach to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse committed by those serving under the UN flag. Today, I am presenting those proposals for consideration by the General Assembly .
My report outlines a victim-centered strategy rooted in transparency, accountability and ensuring justice. It is based on four tracks. First, to put the rights and dignity of victims first. Second, to focus on ending impunity for those guilty of crimes and abuses. Third, to draw on the wisdom and guidance of all those who have been affected, civil society, local communities and others to strengthen and improve our efforts. Fourth and finally, to raise awareness and share best practices to end this scourge. Since exploitation is also deeply rooted in gender inequality and discrimination, we must work to promote gender balance throughout the UN family and in our missions and peacekeeping forces. This will advance parity while decreasing incidents of abuse.
I am confident that we can meet these goals together. Let us do so in the name of all who look to the United Nations for life-saving protection and support – and on behalf of the tens of thousands of United Nations personnel around the world who deliver that assistance with courage and commitment to the highest ideals. Let us declare in one voice: We will not tolerate anyone committing or condoning sexual exploitation and abuse. We will not let anyone cover up these crimes with the UN flag. Every victim deserves justice and our full support. Together, let us deliver on that promise.