Fourth Committee approves text reaffirming need to implement zero tolerance of sexual exploitation by UN peacekeepers


Addressing its comprehensive review of a strategy to eliminate future sexual exploitation and abuse in United Nations peacekeeping operations, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) recommended this afternoon that the General Assembly reaffirm the need to implement a zero-tolerance policy towards such behaviour, and to assist victims of sexual exploitation and abuse by the Organization's staff or related personnel.

Approving a draft resolution on that subject, without a vote and as orally amended, the Committee recommended also that the Assembly endorse the proposals contained in the report of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations and its working group on the second resumed session of 2006 (document A/61/19 (Part 1)). In that report, the Special Committee requests the open-ended ad hoc working group of experts to continue its consideration of a revised draft model Memorandum of Understanding with troop-contributing countries at a resumed session before the end of June.

Reiterating its belief that a victim-assistance strategy was an important element of a comprehensive response to sexual exploitation and abuse, the Special Committee acknowledged that a proposed draft comprehensive strategy might have an Organization-wide application and should be considered further. Until such a strategy had been implemented, peacekeeping operations should continue to provide emergency assistance to victims within current mission budgets.

Introducing that report, Amr El-Sherbini (Egypt), Rapporteur of the Special Committee, said it had decided, at its March 2006 substantive session, to consider the United Nations policy statement and comprehensive strategy for assisting and supporting victims of sexual exploitation and abuse (document A/60/877), as well as the revised draft model Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations and Member States contributing resources to the Organization's peacekeeping operations (document A/61/494). At its resumed session on 18 December 2006, the Special Committee had made a number of proposals, recommendations and conclusions contained in the current report.

The Secretary to the Fourth Committee said additional requirements for its proposed meetings, estimated at $152,400, could be accommodated to the extent possible within appropriated resources under the programme budget for the biennium 2006-2007. Additional expenditures would be reported in the context of the second performance report of the programme budget for that same biennium.

Speaking in explanation of position, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Morocco's representative noted that the ad hoc working group had stipulated that the draft comprehensive strategy for victim assistance might have a system-wide application. The draft resolution should, therefore, be a subject for consultation with other bodies. It was disappointing that the work on the draft model Memorandum of Understanding had not been concluded, not even the parts agreed upon by everyone, as important compromises had been found.

She pointed out that today's approval of the text was not part of the current session since it endorsed a report of the 2006 second resumed session. The fact that the Special Committee had been unable to adopt its report for 2007 was a matter of concern, as it would not only have an impact on the work of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, but also on the Secretary-General's reforms.

Also speaking in explanation of position, on behalf of the Rio Group, the representative of the Dominican Republic expressed support for the idea of keeping the draft model Memorandum of Understanding under further consideration.

The Fourth Committee will meet again on 24 May to elect its Bureau for the sixty-second session of the General Assembly.

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For information media - not an official record