As part of further efforts by the United Nations to enforce its “zero tolerance” policy for sexual exploitation and abuse, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has put forward a draft strategy on assistance and support to victims of such behaviour by UN staff and related personnel, including recommendations for medical care and child maintenance.
In a letter to the General Assembly detailing the main points of the strategy, and also a related policy statement, Mr. Annan emphasizes that the “vast majority of those working under the United Nations flag proudly live up to” standards of integrity, many serving difficult and dangerous circumstances.
But the strategy comes as an acknowledgement of the fact that within the ranks are “individuals who have violated the trust that is placed in the United Nations by engaging in acts of sexual exploitation and abuse of the same people that the United Nations is mandated to protect.”
In order for the strategy to be truly comprehensive, “a common approach” by both the UN and the Member States is needed, the Secretary-General says.
“As part of its overall efforts to respond to sexual exploitation and abuse, the United Nations commits to working with Member States and its partners to ensure that there is a comprehensive and coordinated response to meet the needs of complainants, victims and children fathered by United Nations staff or related personnel.”
The strategy, representing more than 12 months of wide-ranging consultations involving UN operations, Member States and various organizations, offers seven main recommendations to the General Assembly on ways to deal with the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse.
The recommendations are that the United Nations:
Commits to providing assistance and support to complainants, victims and children fathered by UN staff or related personnel;
Commits to ensuring that complainants, victims and children fathered by UN staff or related personnel receive relevant assistance and support, including for example medical care and child maintenance;
Instructs the Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator in each country where the UN has a presence to work with the country team and any peacekeeping mission to assist in providing services for the victims of sexual abuse;
Requests its agencies and partners that are experienced in gender-based violence
to offer their skills in making sure the right services are provided;
Establishes a common funding mechanism to ensure a reliable source of funding to implement this strategy;
Develops guidelines for the provision of financial support to victims,
including guidelines on the scale of support and the circumstances in which it is to
Reviews the Policy Statement and Comprehensive Strategy after 18 months of
implementation.“We are all aware of the imperative to eradicate sexual exploitation and abuse. We must also address the harm it causes, both to the victims and to the reputation of the Organization,” the Secretary-General declares. “A truly comprehensive approach will leave no uncertainty for the victims and will restore the reputation of the Organization as one that acts responsibly towards the communities it serves.”