Global perspective Human stories

Complaints of sexual infractions at UN last year doubled from 2003

Complaints of sexual infractions at UN last year doubled from 2003

The number of allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation made by and about United Nations personnel in 2004 was more than double the number reported in 2003, a development that is deeply distressing, even though contributing factors include clearer reporting procedures and new response measures, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a report to the General Assembly.

"The total number of 121 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse registered in 2004 was more than double the 53 allegations reported in 2003. The increase in allegations is deeply troubling," he says.

"It should be noted, however, that the recorded increase may result in part from the newly implemented measures to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse. Focal points have been designated to facilitate receipt of complaints, reporting procedures have become more clearly defined, and managers have clearly and publicly indicated that sexual exploitation and abuse will not be tolerated," he adds.

The report says 16 allegations, ranging from inappropriate verbal conduct to sexual assault and rape, were reported from all United Nations entities other than the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO).

The other 105 allegations came from DPKO and its 77,330 personnel. "Forty-five per cent of those allegations involved sex with minors and 15 per cent involved rape or sexual assault," it says.

Thirty-one per cent involved prostitution with adult women and the remaining 6 per cent involved other forms of sexual exploitation and abuse, it adds.

Seventy-three allegations against uniformed personnel were sent to the Board of Inquiry – 15 investigations were pending, five were found to be unsubstantiated while allegations were substantiated in 53 cases by the end of last year, it says. "In substantiated cases, the military personnel were repatriated on disciplinary grounds" and Member States were responsible for following up.

For civilian personnel, one allegation needed no further action and 15 were probed. Up to last December, of those 15, seven cases were sent to UN Headquarters for disciplinary action, seven investigations were pending and one allegation was seen as unsubstantiated.