The revelations last year of sexual exploitation and abuse by a significant number of United Nations peacekeeping personnel in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) shocked and angered us all and have done great harm to the name of peacekeeping.
These abhorrent acts are a violation of the fundamental duty of care that all United Nations peacekeeping personnel owe to the local population that they are sent to serve.
After these troubling allegations surfaced, I invited H.R.H Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein, the Permanent Representative of a major troop and police contributing country and a former civilian peacekeeper himself, to act as my adviser and assist me in addressing this grave problem. When the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations asked me to produce a comprehensive report with recommendations on sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeeping personnel, I asked Prince Zeid to undertake its preparation.
The report was prepared in close consultation with representatives of troop and police contributing countries and takes a hard and unvarnished look at a serious problem. The report makes a number of concrete recommendations, including the standardization of rules against sexual exploitation and abuse for all categories of peacekeeping personnel; the provision of a professional investigative capacity for peacekeeping operations; organizational, managerial and command measures to address sexual exploitation and abuse directly; and strengthening of individual accountability through the disciplinary process as well as financial and, where appropriate, criminal accountability.
Resolving the problem of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeeping personnel is a shared responsibility and can only succeed with firm commitment and action by both the Secretariat and Member States. We are committed to implement the necessary reforms as quickly as possible. I also call upon Member States to act with determination and due haste and to provide the necessary resources to the Secretariat and the United Nations agencies, funds and programmes to put in place the important changes required.
United Nations peacekeeping is a noble calling and serves as an integral part of the world's efforts to maintain peace and security. Sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeeping personnel must first be eliminated and then prevented from happening again. I trust the discussion of Prince Zeid's report in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations in April 2005 will give further impetus to the process of reform that will achieve this goal.