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Evaluation of the prevention, response and victim support efforts against sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations Secretariat staff and related personnel - Report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (A/75/820) [EN/AR]

Attachments

Seventy-fifth session
Agenda item 154
Administrative and budgetary aspects of the financing of
the United Nations peacekeeping operations

Summary

The Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) assessed the relevance and effectiveness of the prevention, response and victim support efforts against sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations Secretariat staff and related personnel covering the 2015–2018 period.

Efforts to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse in peace operations were constant and given the highest priority, although such efforts varied across the Secretariat and were inadequate in non-peacekeeping entities. The Office of the Special Coordinator on Improving the United Nations Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and the Office of the Victims’ Rights Advocate contributed to visible progress and commitment across the system to address sexual exploitation and abuse, although their activities faced several challenges. There was an increase in initiatives and actors related to sexual exploitation and abuse but persisting issues linked to the outdated Secretary-General’s bulletin on special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (ST/SGB/2003/13) affected the Organization’s response.

Despite some improvement, every step of processing allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse took longer than stipulated. Administrative accountability imposed by the United Nations demonstrated the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy at work, with sanctions imposed in 85 per cent of substantiated cases and the remainder in progress. However, sanctions imposed by troop- and police-contributing countries varied markedly, ranging from demotion to five years of imprisonment, although half the cases remained pending.

Efforts to ensure criminal accountability for crimes of sexual exploitation and abuse (e.g. rape) for officials and experts on mission through referral by the United Nations were mostly unsuccessful. For uniformed personnel, sanctions were imposed by troop- and police-contributing countries in 10 out of 22 cases; these ranged from 40 days to five years of imprisonment. Regarding non-United Nations forces, none of the national proceedings for the 23 reported cases led to any sanctions.

The victims’ rights approach in addressing sexual exploitation and abuse was regarded as highly relevant by stakeholders, and made progress in one mission, but was yet to be fully operationalized. Support provided to victims was generally insufficient. The impact of projects funded by the trust fund in support of victims of sexual exploitation and abuse was visible in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, although most projects funded were delayed, focused largely on community outreach and were not directly related to the “individual needs” of victims of sexual exploitation and abuse. A $600,000 payment withheld from troop- and police-contributing countries for substantiated allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse was yet to be transferred to the trust fund.

OIOS made 17 important recommendations.