Welcoming Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s commitment to strictly enforce his ‘zero tolerance’ policy against sexual exploitation or abuse by United Nations personnel, the Security Council today stressed the importance of the UN quickly investigating the most recent allegations of misconduct by peacekeepers, and if substantiated, working with the troop contributing countries involved to ensure those responsible are held accountable.
In a press statement that follows a 13 August briefing from Mr. Ban on allegations of sexual exploitation committed by UN peacekeepers, including the latest allegations of abuses committed in the Central African Republic (CAR), Council members said they “shared his outrage and anger…and recalled that peacekeepers should protect civilians in the areas where they are deployed.”
They stated that the UN, and particularly its peacekeepers, must comply with relevant provisions of international law, including with respect to the protection of human rights. The Council also noted that the Organization should “not let the actions of a few tarnish the heroic work of tens of thousands of United Nations peacekeepers and personnel.”
The Council’s statement follows a flurry of action at the highest levels of the United Nations after allegations were revealed late last week by the human rights group Amnesty International concerning actions by UN peacekeepers serving with the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).
In the wake of the revelations, the Secretary-General vowed decisive action and immediately announced that he had accepted the resignation of MINUSCA chief Babacar Gaye, scheduled an urgent meeting with the heads of all United Nations peace operations and Force Commanders, as well as a special closed-door session of the Security Council on the matter.
Over the weekend, Anthony Lake, Executive Director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) announced that the agency’s staff in CAR had met with the young girl reportedly raped by a UN police officer, and stressed that UNICEF is providing her with “every possible help,” including medical assistance and support to deal with the psychological impact of the incident.
“While respecting the integrity of the investigation into the incident, it is clear that this child has endured a most brutal ordeal,” said Mr. Lake.
The Security Council, in its statement today, noted the recent appointment of an External Independent Panel to look into reports of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in the Central African Republic and the United Nations’ systemic response, and looked forward to its findings being made public.
The members of the Security Council reiterated the primary responsibility of troop and police contributing countries to investigate allegations against their uniformed personnel, and, if appropriate, to prosecute, and to inform the United Nations, in a timely manner, of the progress and outcome of investigations.
They asked the Secretariat to keep police and troop contributing countries fully informed as soon as allegations against peacekeepers are made, stressed the need for full and appropriate reporting within the UN system, and regretted that some allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse including the latest allegations by the United Nations peacekeepers in the CAR were brought to their attention by external actors such as the media and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Stressing the importance of the United Nations quickly investigating in a credible, transparent manner the most recent allegations of misconduct and abuse, and if substantiated, working with the troop contributing countries involved to ensure those responsible are held accountable, the Council also underscored the importance to build the capacity of troop contributing countries to investigate allegations and hold accountable those involved in abuses within their own national legal frameworks.
The members of the Security Council emphasized the need for victims and their families to be assisted when such abuses occur, including through better information sharing on the actions taken by troop and police contributing countries to hold those committing abuse accountable and underlined the importance of addressing the needs of the victims.
They paid tribute to General Babacar Gaye’s tireless efforts in support of peace, security and reconciliation in the Central African Republic and during his United Nations career. They took note of the Secretary-General’s nomination of Parfait Onanga-Anyanga as Acting Special Representative and Head of MINUSCA and assured him of their full support to MINUSCA.