18 March 2016 Speaking with senior United Nations officials who are preparing to be deployed to field missions, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said he holds them all responsible for helping to address sexual exploitation or abuse, and for helping to create a 'zero-tolerance' culture.
“I have taken strong action to end this problem,” Mr. Ban stressed, urging the UN leaders to keep their “eyes on this issue every single day.”
In 2015, 69 cases of sexual exploitation and abuse were reported against peacekeepers serving under the UN flag, and fresh allegations have continued to surface in 2016.
“We are intensifying initiatives in prevention, enforcement and support to victims. We also have stronger accountability mechanisms. And just last week, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2272 on this issue. I am grateful to the members of the Security Council for helping me to break the silence, expose the problems and respond forcefully,” the UN chief underlined.
He also indicated that the Organization is building on the recommendations of a High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, which recommended four key shifts that he said senior UN officials can all help achieve: “First: the primacy of political solutions. Second: the full spectrum of responses for peace. Third: stronger partnerships with others. And fourth: a focus on the field and people,” Mr. Ban explained.
In addition, he highlighted that women are especially important to the UN's peace operations: “They serve as role models to the staff and host communities. Our women leaders prove that gender equality is more than a noble goal – it is a practical advantage.”
Meanwhile, he told senior leaders that he expects them to fully commit to the Human Rights Up Front Initiative.
“It sets a human rights compass to guide our analysis and strategies. Our aim and our responsibility are to act quickly and decisively – long before situations escalate out of control,” he explained. “In the worst instance, when you see the risk of atrocities or crimes being committed, do not wait for instructions. Speak up, even if that may offend some. Your duty is to those at risk. I fully support you – and I will make sure you have the complete backing of all senior officials.”
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