Prevention lies at the core of the UN strategy to combat sexual exploitation and abuse. It must be undertaken in a proactive and comprehensive manner across the UN system and in partnership with the Member States. Fundamental elements of this approach are screening and training staff, raising public awareness, and conducting risk assessments.
The Secretary-General has emphasized that if an individual has committed acts of sexual exploitation and abuse while in the service of a UN entity, that individual should not be rehired anywhere in the UN system. In this regard, the initial screening of candidates for every United Nations post is being strengthened, including the vetting of personnel for records of prior misconduct while in the service of another UN entity. Currently, all personnel deployed in peacekeeping operations are vetted for such records from prior deployments in UN operations.
Training of all UN staff and personnel on the UN Standards of Conduct is an essential element in the fight against sexual exploitation and abuse. Training for all UN personnel is conducted regularly both before and after deployment. The United Nations has an online training programme on the prevention of sexual exploitation that is mandatory for all staff in the Secretariat and in UN peace operations since 2017. Other UN system entities are also adapting the training for their own use.
Outreach and awareness-raising
Public awareness-raising about what is acceptable behavior by UN staff and personnel and how to report wrongdoing through the existing mechanisms is conducted by UN peace operations and agencies, funds and programmes operating in the field. Safe, accessible and confidential community-based complaint reception mechanisms have been established or are being set up in field locations where the UN has humanitarian, development and peacekeeping presence.
An important way of preventing misconduct is identifying risks before misconduct occurs. Regular risk assessment visits and risk-mitigating actions are carried out by UN entities in their field locations, with a particular focus on risks related to sexual exploitation and abuse.