The Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Field Support introduced the item to the Committee. He pointed out that sexual exploitation and abuse represented a violation of everything the United Nations stands for. He further acknowledged that there had been progress in that the number of allegations of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse had gone down in the last decade, but that this was still a system-wide issue.
The USG noted that the last report of the Secretary-General on the subject (A/69/779) sets out a programme of work with substantive proposals in the areas of prevention, enforcement and remedial action. While the UN Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support have a significant role in implementing the initiatives in the report, it remains a global report with impact across the United Nations system.
In order to get a clear picture of what HLCM organizations may already have in place with regard to protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, members had been asked to respond to a survey. Their responses were summarized in document CEB/2015/HLCM/15, together with indications where there may be a specific need for joint action.
In the discussion of the issue, HLCM members expressed strong support for the initiative of the Secretary-General to strengthen the response to sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. Several speakers pointed to the reputational risks for the UN as a whole and the fundamental responsibility of organizations to report all allegations on sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. Some members also expressed their availability to allocate resources for appropriate actions against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.
Strong support was also expressed by the Committee for coordinated interagency cooperation to mainstream approaches to prevent sexual exploitation and sexual abuse and to share information with a view to joint action.
Recognizing that sexual exploitation and sexual abuse touch on a series of related issues and should therefore be looked at from a multiple perspective, HLCM members noted that an inclusive, multi-stakeholders approach was essential and pointed out that coordination with ongoing initiatives that deal with the subject inside and outside of the System was of importance. In particular, but not exclusively, the Human Resources Network, the Legal Network, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, the United Nations Development Group and the Multi-partner Trust Fund Office were mentioned as having a potential role to play.
HLCM members agreed that the best way forward to address this broad issue was to task a small strategic group to dissect competencies and allocate them to appropriate mechanisms.
Expressed strong support for the Secretary General’s initiative to strengthen the response to sexual exploitation and sexual abuse and for the recommendations included in the Secretary General’s report on Special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.
Considered that coordinated interagency cooperation was required to mainstream approaches to ensure prevention of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse in the work of UN system organizations, and to share information with a view to joint action.
Decided to establish a small strategic group of interested organizations led by the Department of Field Support to review the recommendations contained in the report of the Secretary-General, with a view to deciding how these proposals may best be carried forward.