The Role of the Victims’ Rights Advocate
The United Nations Victims’ Rights Advocate (VRA) puts the rights of victims, their experiences, and their needs at the forefront of the UN’s fight against sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA). Victims of such crimes have often suffered severe trauma and their lives have been unhinged. The VRA makes sure that this pain is acknowledged and heard within the UN system. Thus, the VRA’s first mission is to amplify the voices of those that are often forgotten.
Victims of SEA often require special assistance and support ranging from medical attention to legal support. The VRA ensures that victims get the assistance and the support they need, depending on their individual situation.
To this aim, the VRA works with all parts of the UN system, which comprises many departments, agencies, funds and programmes with operations in the field, Member States and a range of stakeholders, including civil society and the media, to make sure that an integrated response to victim assistance in line with the Secretary-General’s strategy and the existing UN strategy on assistance and support to victims adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007 (A/RES/62/214, Annex) exists.
In fulfillment of her mandate, the VRA is regularly visiting field missions in order to gain a firsthand understanding of how sexual exploitation and abuse is addressed in the missions. These visits are also a way for the VRA to connect with victims directly, to hear their stories and to learn from their experience in order to better support them and others.