Tuesday, March 17, 2015

UN report on sexual exploitation and abuse for 2014

Thanks to this report by Somini Sengupta in The New York Times, we are aware of the UN Secretary-General's report on allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in the UN system for 2014, the full text of which can be found here. Excerpts:
56. In considering the question of enforcement, it should be recalled that acts of sexual exploitation and abuse may also constitute criminal conduct. The Secretary-General is committed to referring credible allegations concerning United Nations officials or personnel with the status of experts on mission to the Member State of the national concerned for criminal prosecution and to support investigations and legal processes.  
57. In his report for 2012 (A/67/766), the Secretary-General reaffirmed the need to bring fresh impetus to the recommendation contained in the 2006 report of the Group of Legal Experts on ensuring the accountability of United Nations personnel in connection with crimes committed in peacekeeping operations (A/60/980), to the effect that an international convention on the subject be adopted. In its resolution 67/88, the General Assembly decided that consideration of the matter of the international convention should be continued at its seventieth session in the framework of a working group of the Sixth Committee. The Secretary-General intends to remain closely engaged with Member States in urgently concluding the long-standing discussion on the adoption of this international convention. 
58. As reiterated by the General Assembly, most recently in its resolution 69/114, the Secretary-General encourages Member States to consider amending their national legislation to permit extra-territorial jurisdiction where necessary, to allow for criminal accountability for sexual exploitation and abuse in the home country of the United Nations personnel concerned. He further urges Member States to amend their administrative rules, regulations or codes governing police and military contingents to clearly recognize all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse as misconduct, where this is not already the case, and to indicate that such acts will attract the harshest available sanctions.  
59. Another important question is when and how to refer a case of alleged criminal conduct by United Nations personnel to the judicial authorities of the host State in which it occurred. A standardized approach for reporting cases would ensure the broadest possible consideration for referral for prosecution and promotegreater individual accountability. The Secretary-General will ensure that guidance is developed for heads of missions in peacekeeping and special political missions on standards and procedures on how instances of misconduct, including sexual exploitation and abuse, that could amount to criminal conduct may be brought to the attention of United Nations Headquarters so that they may be referred to the judicial authorities of host States, in accordance with the existing legal framework. 
60. Finally, the Secretary-General recommends that the troop-and police-contributing countries of personnel accused of sexual exploitation and abuse consider instituting on-site court-martial proceedings, which can promote greater accountability and transparency in cases involving contingent members.
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88. The number of new allegations of sexual exploitation or sexual abuse received in 2014 is lower than that reported in 2013, which is encouraging. Also positive is the fact that the numbers of substantiated allegations showed a similar downward trend. The fact that allegations of sexual abuse are being substantiated in a greater proportion of cases, however, remains cause for grave concern, highlighting the importance not only of vigorous preventive efforts but also of continued efforts in connection with disciplinary sanctions and criminal accountability, in partnership with Member States.
Data on exploitation and abuse allegations (including paternity cases) received by the UN are presented in this report. Other categories of personnel misconduct are not included in this summary.

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