United Nations Glossary on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

Manual and Guideline
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Following a call for better coordination of the UN system to address sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), in January 2016 the Secretary-General established a High-Level Steering Group under the leadership of his Chef de Cabinet, comprising heads of the offices, departments, funds and programmes involved in responding to issues of sexual abuse and gender based violence. The role of the HLSG is to ensure that the senior management team is directly involved in the strengthening and alignment of the system-wide response to sexual exploitation and abuse irrespective of whether allegations are made against United Nations or non-United Nations forces authorized under a Security Council mandate. In March 2016, the HLSG identified the need to establish a common understanding of terminology in the context of sexual exploitation and abuse for purposes of enhanced communication.

This glossary aims at compiling existing terminology and nomenclature related to SEA to provide conceptual clarity and a common understanding of key terms used by different United Nations entities in the discourse on this topic. It is the product of the collaboration of the following entities: Department of Field Support (DFS), Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG), International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM), Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), Office of Legal Affairs (OLA), Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict (OSRSG CAAC), Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict (OSRSG SVC), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV), United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and World Food Programme (WFP).

The glossary comprises a set of terms and definitions as they are normally used and understood by key UN entities in the context of SEA. Slight variations in terminology may exist between different entities as a result of distinct reporting requirements or drafting styles, but these differences do not hinder a common understanding of the meaning of the term. Where possible, one standard definition is provided. Where it was not feasible to include one standard definition of a term, more than one definition is presented with an explanation as to the relevant context. Finally it is noted that this is a living document and that for comprehensiveness, the glossary also includes terminology applicable to acts by non-UN international forces acting under a Security-Council mandate, which may not be applicable to SEA by United Nations personnel.

Disclaimer: The glossary does not have any legal effects and will serve as a reference tool in connection with the UN system wide response to SEA. All terms and definitions are to be read in the context of SEA.