Egypt presents peacekeeping countries' UN resolution to end sexual exploitation, abuse

Ahram Online , Sunday 12 Mar 2017

The resolution emphasised the importance of UN member states holding their personnel accountable

Amr Aboulatta
Egypt's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Amr Abul Atta. (Photo From the official website of ministry of foreign affairs)

The UN General Assembly approved on Friday a draft resolution, presented by Egypt, calling for a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) in the United Nations system.

In a statement released on its official Facebook page late Saturday, the foreign ministry said that Cairo drafted the resolution with 10 other countries involved in the UN peacekeeping forces.

The resolution stressed prevention and accountability as key for the UN and its member states to demonstrate their commitment to a zero-tolerance policy for SEA and to providing justice for victims, read a press statement from the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on Friday.

In the resolution, titled “United Nations action on sexual exploitation and abuse,” the UNGA “called upon member states deploying non-UN forces authorised under a Security Council mandate to take appropriate steps to investigate allegations and to hold perpetrators accountable.”

“It also urged all such non-United Nations forces to take adequate measures to prevent, and combat impunity for, sexual exploitation and abuse by their personnel,” the statement read.

“We owe it to the world to adopt this resolution,” said Egypt's permanent delegate to the UN ambassador Amr Abo El-Ata while introducing the draft resolution in an address to the UNGA.

“The troop- and police-contributing countries presenting this draft resolution took it upon themselves to lead this effort in order to send a strong, unequivocal message that it is our responsibility to combat sexual exploitation and abuse, not just among uniformed personnel, but across the United Nations system,” Abo Al-Ata was quoted as saying in the statement.

On 9 March, UN Secretary-General António Guterres issued a report titled “Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse" and gave a speech saying that "acts of rape, sexual violence, exploitation and abuse should never take place. Certainly, no person serving with the United Nations in any capacity should be associated with such vile and vicious crimes."

Guterres said "since exploitation is also deeply rooted in gender inequality and discrimination, we [the UN] must work to promote gender balance throughout the United Nations family and in our missions and peacekeeping forces.

"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 United Nations flag. Every victim deserves justice and our full support. Together, let us deliver on that promise."

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.

In 2016, 103 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse were reported in UN field missions, according to a UN peacekeeping report released in March 2017.

Nearly 118,000 UN troops and police are currently serving in 16 peacekeeping missions around the world, according to the UN's January statistics. Egypt contributes 2,703 troops including police and military personnel. 

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