Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message today on the launch of the report “Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse: A New Approach”:
One of my most unforgettable experiences has been listening to the victims of rape, sexual violence, exploitation and abuse. Their haunting stories and chilling testimony will stay with me forever.
Such acts of cruelty should never take place. Certainly no person serving with the United Nations in any capacity should be associated with such vile and vicious crimes. Indeed, the vast majority of United Nations troops and personnel serve with pride, dignity and respect for the people they assist and protect, very often in dangerous and difficult conditions and at great personal sacrifice. Yet our Organization continues to grapple with the scourge of sexual exploitation and abuse, despite great efforts over many years to address it. We need a new approach.
In my inaugural speech as Secretary-General, I pledged to work closely with Member States on structural, legal and operational measures to make zero tolerance a reality. And in my first week as Secretary-General, I established a High-Level Task Force with an urgent task: to develop an ambitious new approach to preventing and responding to sexual exploitation and abuse committed by those serving under the United Nations flag. Today, I am presenting those proposals for consideration by the General Assembly.
My report outlines a victim-centred strategy rooted in transparency, accountability and ensuring justice. It is based on four tracks: first, to put the rights and dignity of victims first; second, to focus on ending impunity for those guilty of crimes and abuses; third, to draw on the wisdom and guidance of all those who have been affected, civil society, local communities and others to strengthen and improve our efforts; fourth and finally, to raise awareness and share best practices to end this scourge.
Since exploitation is also deeply rooted in gender inequality and discrimination, we must work to promote gender balance throughout the United Nations family and in our missions and peacekeeping forces. This will advance parity while decreasing incidents of abuse. I am confident that we can meet these goals together. Let us do so in the name of all who look to the United Nations for life-saving protection and support — and on behalf of the tens of thousands of United Nations personnel around the world who deliver that assistance with courage and commitment to the highest ideals.
Let us declare in one voice: We will not tolerate anyone committing or condoning sexual exploitation and abuse. We will not let anyone cover up these crimes with the United Nations flag. Every victim deserves justice and our full support. Together, let us deliver on that promise.