United Nations announces new approach to tackle sexual abuse

United Nations announces new approach to tackle sexual abuse

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in an annual report that there had been a total of 145 cases of sexual exploitation and abuse involving troops and civilians across all UN peace missions in 2016, up from 99 in 2015.

The new approach will not only deal with host countries where the crimes actually took place, but also the countries where the perpetrators are from.

Zeid addressed questions at the Human Rights Council from US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Erin Barclay about his office's efforts to improve accountability, assist national investigations and establish transparency measures in cases of sexual abuse.

"Amnesty International views other measures announced by the Secretary-General as positive, including the new orientation toward empowering victims of abuse, the stricter vetting of United Nations personnel, the creation of a new post of victims" rights advocate, the development of a "special protocol" to prevent sexual abuse and exploitation, the extension of the post of Special Coordinator on improving the UN's response to sexual exploitation and abuse, the establishment of a "circle of leadership' comprising heads of state, and the creation of a special advisory board made up of civil society leaders and experts to make recommendations for preventing such abuse. Certainly no person serving with the United Nations in any capacity should be associated with such vile and vicious crimes", the Secretary-General said in his message as the report was released.

The increase, according to the report, is explained by the fact that more victims are speaking out.

The report focuses on four main areas of action to improve system-wide prevention and response to SEA: putting victims first; ending impunity; engaging civil society and external partners; and improving strategic communications for education and transparency.

Raising awareness and sharing best practices to end this scourge.

In his report, Guterres proposed that salary payments to countries that fail to investigate allegations involving their troops should be withheld, and that those amounts could be instead directed to a victims' trust fund. Almost $49,000 in withheld salaries is ready to be transferred to a victims' fund instead, according to United Nations officials.

The largest number of cases have been recorded in four missions: Minusca in the Central African Republic, Monusco in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Minustah in Haiti and Minuss in South Sudan.

The United Nations boss has called for the appointment of an ad hoc human rights expert to defend the rights of victims, which would report directly to the Secretary-General.

He also called for setting up a team of special investigators to better respond to allegations, stronger vetting of United Nations personnel, "prohibitions on alcohol consumption" and new guidelines for peacekeepers on non-fraternisation.

The UN chief is under pressure to improve peacekeeping after the United States, the biggest financial contributor to peace operations, said it was reviewing its almost $8 billion in annual support for the blue helmets.