Secretary-General outlines new strategy to address sexual abuse by UN personnel

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Headquarters press briefing on new UN approach for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (left to right) Nancee Bright, office of the Secretary-General's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict; Lisa Buttenheim, Assistant Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support; Maria Luiza Viotti, Chef de Cabinet; and Christian Saunders, Director of the Office of the Under Secretary-General of the Department of Management. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

The United Nations has unveiled a new strategy to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse committed by those serving under its flag.

The proposals come in a report issued by UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Thursday.

The UN chief has also recorded a video message outlining the approach.

Dianne Penn reports.

The report presents what the UN Secretary-General has described as "a victim-centered strategy rooted in transparency, accountability and ensuring justice." 

It is based on four tracks, beginning with putting the rights and dignity of victims first. 

The second track seeks to end impunity for those guilty of committing crimes and abuses. 

The UN also wants to draw on the wisdom and guidance of all those who have been affected, as a means to improve its efforts. 

The final track involves raising awareness and sharing best practices to stamp out the problem for good. 

In the video message, the UN chief also highlighted the link between exploitation and gender inequality and discrimination. 

Mr Guterres said promoting gender balance across the UN system, and in its field missions and peacekeeping forces, will advance parity and decrease incidents of abuse. 

"I am confident that we can meet these goals together. Let us do so in the name of all who look to the United Nations for life-saving protection and support , and on behalf of the tens of thousands of United Nations personnel around the world who deliver that assistance with courage and commitment to the highest ideals. Let us declare in one voice: We will not tolerate anyone committing or condoning sexual exploitation and abuse. We will not let anyone cover up these crimes with the UN flag."

The report also emphasizes the need to engage with UN Member States.

It calls for a high-level meeting on sexual exploitation and abuse on the margins of the UN General Assembly in September.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1'44"

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