Victim Assistance

Zero tolerance for sexual explotation and abuse - stop, prevent, protect

The protection of victims of sexual exploitation and abuse is our priority. The UN will ensure that victims receive the support and attention they deserve, from the moment an allegation is received until there is an outcome.

In 2007, the General Assembly adopted the United Nations Comprehensive Strategy on Assistance and Support to Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by United Nations Staff and Related Personnel. The strategy calls for the UN system to provide, in a coordinated manner, assistance to individuals with needs directly arising from an incident of sexual exploitation or sexual abuse. Such assistance can be, for example, medical care, psychosocial support, legal assistance, and immediate material needs such as food, clothing, and safe shelter. The term 'related personnel' in the title of the Comprehensive Strategy encompasses consultants, volunteers, individual contractors, personnel of partner organizations, experts on mission and peacekeepers, including both civilian and uniformed personnel.

Over the years, the mechanisms and coordination in the UN system for victim assistance have been gradually strengthened. Building on existing practices, the Secretary-General on 23 August 2017 appointed a system-wide Victims’ Rights Advocate (VRA) at UN Headquarters to ensure that the United Nations system provides tangible and sustained assistance to the victims of sexual exploitation and abuse.   The Advocate will work with government institutions, civil society, and national and legal and human rights organizations to build support networks and to help ensure that the full effect of local laws, including remedies for victims, are brought to bear.

Victims’ rights advocates have also been appointed in locations with the most allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in 2016. They will be responsible for ensuring that the victims who come forward with allegations are treated with the respect, sensitivity and compassion that they deserve and that the Organization will provide them with appropriate assistance in a timely manner. Importantly, the advocates will ensure that victims are provided up-to-date information on the status of their case. Where a child has been born as a result of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations or related personnel, the UN works to facilitate the pursuit of claims of paternity and child support.

A Trust Fund in Support of Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse was established by the Secretary-General in March 2016 to support services for victims. The trust fund is aimed at, among other things, engaging in community outreach and addressing service gaps in the provision of assistance and support for complainants, victims and children born as a result of sexual exploitation and abuse.