During his first week in office, in January 2017, the Secretary-General established a diverse High-Level Task Force, led by his Special Coordinator Jane Holl Lute, to develop as a matter of urgency a strategy to achieve visible and measurable improvements in the way the Organization prevents and responds to sexual exploitation and abuse.
“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,” said the Secretary-General in a video message.
The report emphasizes that sexual exploitation and abuse is not exclusive to the peacekeeping forces, but can occur within any Organization just as any other part of the United Nations. It is therefore imperative that the United Nations addresses this problem through a system-wide approach.
The Secretary-General acknowledged that “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.” However, he added that the “Organization continues to grapple with the scourge of sexual exploitation and abuse, despite great efforts over many years to address it.”
The report outlines a victim-centered strategy rooted in transparency, accountability and ensuring justice. It focuses on four main areas:
· Putting the rights and dignity of victims of sexual exploitation and abuse at the forefront of our efforts;
· Establishing greater transparency on reporting and investigations in an effort to end impunity for those guilty of sexual exploitation and abuse;
· Building a truly multi-stakeholder network to support the UN effort to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse; and
· Raising awareness and sharing best practices to end this scourge.
Sexual exploitation and abuse are deeply rooted in gender inequality and discrimination. 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.
The Secretary-General’s new approach to combat sexual exploitation and abuse also seeks to build a strong partnership with Member States and stamping out this scourge will require all relevant actors to find strength in unity. 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.”
The Secretary-General is committed to the implementation of this strategy and has instructed and expects all his leadership to take immediate action. “We owe it to the people we serve, to all of those women, men and children who see the UN flag as a symbol of something as invaluable as it is intangible: hope”.
The report can be found at: https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N17/054/00/PDF/N1705400.pdf?OpenElement
It is available on the Official Document System under symbol: A/71/818