Statement on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Peacekeeping Missions

The World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) is a global nonprofit organization representing and coordinating a membership of over 100 national United Nations Associations.
Monday, May 16, 2016

NEW YORK - During its 214th meeting, on 14 May 2016, members of WFUNA's Executive Committee adopted and issued a statement on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in peacekeeping missions. 

The World Federation of United Nations Associations expresses its gravest concern vis-à-vis the shocking surge in allegations of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) by peacekeepers worldwide - the most egregious ones emerging from the MINUSCA mission in the Central African Republic - and its deepest regret for the United Nations failure to prevent SEA and adequately support victims.

We recognize the vital importance of the work of peacekeepers and their positive contribution to ensuring the peace and security of civilians in conflict situations worldwide. Sexual exploitation and abuse is largely widespread and not limited to peacekeepers, the vast majority of whom carry out their duties in line with UN guidelines. We regret, however, that this scourge is seriously undermining the work of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations in many missions.

Despite existing UN policies to prevent SEA in UN peacekeeping missions, recent allegations sadly bring to light the systemic failure by the UN and Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) to not only prevent occurrences, but also to effectively report, investigate, bring perpetrators to justice, and provide adequate assistance to victims.

Echoing the UN Secretary-General’s stance, we stress that zero tolerance means zero complacency and zero impunity: Strengthening the United Nations and TCCs accountablity and institutional responsibility must be an absolute priority of the UN System and its Member States.  

WFUNA urges the United Nations and TCCs to inverse the current trend that sees a focus on protecting the rights of abusers rather than the victims in peacekeeping missions: Addressing effectively the longstanding culture of impunity for perpetrators, increasing and simplifying reporting, strengthening investigative capacities in missions and training on SEA issues, alongside with appropriate oversight of peacekeeping staff interactions with local populations are all necessary to ensure zero occurrences in the future.

WFUNA calls on Member States of the United Nations to provide the necessary funding and support for the full and prompt implementation of all provisions outlined in the Secretary-General’s February 2016 report on Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, including adequate resources for the recently established Voluntary Trust Fund, so that it may provide victims the support they direly need.

We wish to convey our most profound solidarity with all victims and urge the United Nations and TCCs to make their well-being a priority by taking all necessary measures to provide adequate support and assistance to SEA victims and the resulting offspring.

WFUNA calls for timely and effective actions to bring the perpetrators to justice, including the removal of immunity privileges for UN staff, and immediate repatriation and other sanction mechanisms for uniformed personnel, as credible allegations of SEA emerge.

We urge for the establishment of an independent, well-resourced, victims-centered accountability mechanism with full access to the United Nations.

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