Security Council Asks Secretary-General to Replace Contingents from Countries Failing to Hold Sexual Predators Accountable

11 March 2016
SC/12277

Security Council Asks Secretary-General to Replace Contingents from Countries Failing to Hold Sexual Predators Accountable

7643rd Meeting (PM)

Members Adopt Resolution 2272 (2016) while Rejecting Proposed Amendment

The Security Council, expressing its deep concern over allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeepers, today asked the Secretary-General to replace all military or police units from any contributing country that had failed to hold perpetrators accountable.

Adopting resolution 2272 (2016) by 14 votes in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (Egypt), the Council requested that the Secretary-General ensure that the replacement of personnel from troop- or police-contributing countries upheld standards of conduct and discipline, and appropriately addressed allegations or confirmed acts of sexual exploitation and abuse by their personnel.

Prior to the resolution’s adoption, the Council rejected Egypt’s proposed amendment to the text, by 9 votes against (France, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay) to 5 in favour (Angola, China, Egypt, Russian Federation, Venezuela), with 1 abstention (Senegal).  The proposed amendment would have made the replacement of a contingent subject to three conditions:  the investigation of allegations; punishment of the perpetrators; and informing the Secretary-General of the actions taken against the offenders.

Explaining her intention to vote against the proposed amendment, the representative of the United States said it would undermine the purpose of the resolution, which was to change a system that was not working by setting out real consequences if a troop-contributing country failed to respond credibly to allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse.

By the terms of the resolution, the Council requested that the Secretary-General assess whether a Member State had taken steps to investigate allegations, held the perpetrators accountable, and informed him about the progress of investigations when determining its participation in peacekeeping operations.

Also by the text, the Council requested that the Secretary-General gather and preserve evidence before investigations in order to ensure that the peacekeeping operation concerned took immediate steps to prevent future incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse, strengthened the accessibility, coordination and independence of processes for the receipt and management of complaints, and assisted victims.

Expressing deep concern over the continuing serious allegations against the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and other peacekeeping operations, the text also urged all non-United Nations forces to take adequate measures to prevent and combat impunity for sexual exploitation and abuse by their personnel.

By further terms, the Council urged all troop- and police-contributing countries to deliver robust predeployment training on sexual exploitation and abuse, welcoming the Secretary-General’s decision to require certificates of compliance by troop and police contributors.

Speaking after the resolution’s adoption, the representative of the United States said the text underscored the Council’s responsibility to address sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers, sending a strong message of zero tolerance for such actions.  Those who had been found guilty did not deserve to serve in peacekeeping missions, she stressed, expressing her “ulterior motive” of finally doing something about “the cancer in the United Nations system”.

Egypt’s representative said that, despite the unilateral method of negotiations and the limited time available, he had chosen not to vote against the resolution, which aimed to confront repeated cases of sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping operations.  “The way peacekeeping troops and troop-contributing countries have been libelled is entirely unacceptable,” he said, noting that it had a negative effect on troop morale.  Addressing the root causes by providing sufficient predeployment training to peacekeepers and separating their camps from the local population, would have been more appropriate, he added.

France’s representative said that sexual abuse was unacceptable, regardless of whom the perpetrators might be.  The resolution sent a clear message that “Blue Helmets”, police officers, civilian personnel and international forces must do more to reduce the number of allegations to zero.

The Russian Federation’s representative said that national contingents operating under Security Council mandates could not be excluded from the resolution.  After all, they had committed crimes, he noted, pointing out that while most United Nations peacekeepers came from Asia and Africa, it appeared that Western countries wanted immunity for their own units.

Speaking in explanation of position following the adoption, several delegates expressed support for the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers.  However, they also voiced concern that the views of troop-contributing countries had not been fully taken on board.  Some questioned whether it was correct for national contingents to be held responsible for the actions of a few individuals.  Others noted that the issue had long been discussed in the General Assembly, and wondered whether the resolution pitted the Council against that body.

Also speaking today were representatives of the United Kingdom, China, Venezuela, Ukraine, Malaysia, Spain, Senegal, New Zealand and Japan.

The meeting began at 3:10 p.m. and ended at 4:10 p.m.

Resolution

The full text of resolution 2272 (2016) reads as follows:

The Security Council,

Recalling the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and bearing in mind its primary responsibility under the Charter for the maintenance of international peace and security,

Recalling the Statements by its President of 31 May 2005 (S/PRST/2005/21), 25 November 2015 (S/PRST/2015/22) and 31 December 2015 (S/PRST/2015/26), as well as its resolution 2242 (2015) and press statement of 18 August 2015,

Reaffirming that proper conduct by, and discipline over, all personnel deployed in United Nations peace operations are crucial to their effectiveness,

Stressing that sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeepers undermines the implementation of peacekeeping mandates, as well as the credibility of United Nations peacekeeping, and reaffirming its support for the United Nations zero tolerance policy on all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse,

Expressing deep concern about the serious and continuous allegations and under-reporting of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeepers and non-United Nations forces, including military, civilian and police personnel, and underscoring that sexual exploitation and abuse, among other crimes and forms of serious misconduct, by any such personnel is unacceptable,

Recalling the primary responsibility of troop-contributing countries to investigate allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by their personnel and of troop- and police-contributing countries to hold accountable, including through prosecution, where appropriate, their personnel for acts of sexual exploitation and abuse, taking into account due process,

Honouring the heroic work of tens of thousands of United Nations peacekeepers, underscoring that the United Nations should not let the actions of a few tarnish the achievements of the whole and commending the troop- and police-contributing countries that have taken steps to prevent, investigate and hold accountable their personnel for acts of sexual exploitation and abuse,

Welcoming the Secretary-General’s continued efforts to implement and reinforce the United Nations zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, in particular to strengthen the Organization’s prevention, reporting, enforcement and remedial action in order to promote greater accountability,

Welcoming the appointment by the Secretary-General of Jane Holl Lute as his Special Coordinator on Improving the United Nations Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse,

Taking note of the report of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (S/2015/446), the report of the Secretary-General entitled “The Future of United Nations Peace Operations:  Implementation of the Recommendations of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations” (A/70/357-S/2015/682), the report of the External Independent Review of the United Nations Response to Allegations of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in the Central African Republic submitted on 17 December 2015 to the Secretary-General, the report of the Secretary-General of 17 September 2015 submitting the results of the Global Study on the implementation of resolution 1325 (S/2015/716), as well as the report of 4 March 2016 of the Secretary-General on Special measures for protection and prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse (A/70/729), and taking note of the recommendations contained therein related to the prevention and combating of sexual exploitation and abuse,

“1.   Endorses the decision of the Secretary-General to repatriate a particular military unit or formed police unit of a contingent when there is credible evidence of widespread or systemic sexual exploitation and abuse by that unit and requests the Secretary-General to give immediate and ongoing effect to this decision, including by urgently finalizing his guidance to United Nations peacekeeping operations to implement this decision;

“2.   Requests the Secretary-General, when a particular troop-contributing country whose personnel are the subject of an allegation or allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse has not taken appropriate steps to investigate the allegation and/or when the particular troop- or police-contributing country has not held the perpetrators accountable or informed the Secretary-General of the progress of its investigations and/or actions taken, to replace all military units and/or formed police units of the troop- or police-contributing country in the United Nations peacekeeping operation where the allegation or allegations arose with uniformed personnel from a different troop- or police-contributing country, as applicable and further requests the Secretary-General to ensure that the replacement troop- or police-contributing country has upheld standards of conduct and discipline and appropriately addressed allegations against or confirmed acts, if any, of sexual exploitation and abuse by its personnel;

“3.   Consistent with paragraph 2 above regarding repatriation, requests the Secretary-General to assess whether a Member State has taken the appropriate steps to investigate, hold accountable and inform him of the progress of its investigations when determining whether that Member State should participate in other current or future United Nations peacekeeping operations;

“4.   Requests the Secretary-General to gather and preserve evidence ahead of investigations of sexual exploitation and abuse in United Nations peace operations with due consideration for the safety, security and confidentiality of victims, to ensure that the concerned United Nations peace operation takes immediate steps to prevent, including through risk assessments, future incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse, to strengthen the accessibility, coordination and independence of processes for complaint receipt and management and to assist victims, including by maintaining confidentiality, helping to minimize trauma and facilitating access, as appropriate, to immediate care, medical and psychological support;

“5.   Welcomes the efforts of the Secretary-General to expand vetting of all United Nations peacekeeping personnel to ensure that they do not have a history of sexual misconduct in service with the United Nations and reiterates its support for the United Nations Human Rights Screening Policy;

“6.   Expresses deep concern over the continuing and serious allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeepers in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), as well as in other United Nations peacekeeping operations and by non-United Nations forces;

“7.   Urges all non-United Nations forces authorized under a Security Council mandate to take adequate measures to prevent and combat impunity for sexual exploitation and abuse by their personnel;

“8.   Calls upon Member States deploying non-United Nations forces authorized under a Security Council mandate to take appropriate steps to investigate allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, hold perpetrators accountable and repatriate units when there is credible evidence of widespread or systemic sexual exploitation or abuse by those units;

“9.   Urges all Member States to take concrete steps aimed at preventing and combating impunity for sexual exploitation and abuse by members of United Nations peace operations;

“10.  Welcomes the ongoing efforts by Member States to strengthen sexual exploitation and abuse pre-deployment training of troop and police contributors to United Nations peace operations, urges further efforts by all troop- and police-contributing countries to deliver robust sexual exploitation and abuse pre-deployment training in accordance with the terms of their memorandums of understanding and other agreements with the United Nations, encourages further assistance by Member States and multilateral partners to troop- and police-contributing countries in this regard and welcomes the decision of the Secretary-General to require certificates of compliance by troop- and police-contributors to this effect;

“11.  Urges all troop-contributing countries to take the steps necessary to conduct investigations of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by their personnel and to conclude such investigations as expeditiously as possible, in line with the Secretary-General’s request, further urges all troop- and police-contributing countries to take appropriate steps to hold accountable those personnel responsible for sexual exploitation and abuse and to report to the United Nations fully and promptly on actions undertaken and welcomes the request by the Secretary-General for troop- and police-contributing countries to deploy national investigation officers in their contingents to support these efforts;

“12.  Underscores the critical importance that civilians, in particular women and children, in internally displaced persons and refugee sites are protected from any form of abuse or exploitation, requests the Secretary-General, where applicable, to continue to take steps to enhance measures in United Nations peace operations against all forms of abuse and exploitation of civilians by any member of the United Nations peace operation and encourages the Secretary-General to ensure that United Nations peace operations, as applicable, facilitate the identification of possible abuses and mitigate against the stigmatization of victims;

“13.  Encourages the appropriate United Nations mechanisms, including those related to Children and Armed Conflict, Women, Peace and Security and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to continue to include allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in their regular reporting to the Secretary-General and calls upon the Secretary-General to immediately inform the concerned Member State about any such allegations and to take steps to improve internal information-sharing within the United Nations regarding allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse.

For information media. Not an official record.