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UN to hold high-level meeting aimed at eliminating sexual exploitation and abuse

UN to hold high-level meeting aimed at eliminating sexual exploitation and abuse

Experts and advocates will gather in New York on Monday to attend a United Nations High-Level Conference on Eliminating Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan will open the event, which will involve the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), UN agencies, funds and programmes, Member States, troop contributing countries and non-governmental organizations (NGOS), spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters today in response to questions.

Also on Monday, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jane Holl-Lute, who has personally been working to address the problem, will be among those participating in a press conference on sexual exploitation.

After UN peacekeepers were found to be engaged in sexual exploitation and abuse in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), DPKO tightened its procedures and put in place conduct and discipline teams and other investigators aimed at enforcing the Secretary-General’s “zero tolerance” policy.

The UN is also working with the Member States that contribute troops to ensure that follow-up action is taken and that those guilty of misconduct are disciplined, Mr. Dujarric noted.

Since the beginning of 2004, the UN has investigated 319 peacekeeping personnel in all missions. These resulted in the summary dismissal of 18 civilians and the repatriation on disciplinary grounds of 17 police and 144 military personnel.

“We take all these cases extremely, extremely seriously,” Mr. Dujarric said. “One case is one case too many.”