UNA-UK stands in solidarity with all survivors of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment committed in the United Nations’ system, or in connection with its work.
We unequivocally call on the UN to address the apparent culture of impunity for perpetrators and seek to address the structures that protect them. The UN must ensure that victims are supported in their pursuit of justice, that best practice is followed in all instances, and that those who take the brave step of speaking up are able to do so free from the fear of retaliation.
The allegations set out in the recent BBC documentary on whistleblowers at the UN are deeply distressing. Sadly however, they are not new, nor are they surprising - UNA-UK has long campaigned for greater transparency and accountability in relation to sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) committed by UN peacekeepers specifically.
Sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment are particularly liable to be rife whenever there are significant imbalances of power and weak accountability processes. In the long term, eliminating sexual exploitation and abuse means building a world with more equitable power relations. The UN can remain vital in working towards such a world, so long as it implements more effective systems of transparency and safeguarding.
In the meantime, accountability punctures the climate of impunity that enables perpetrators. We urge the UN to consider the recommendations of victims and experts to address the harmful absence of accountability and establish the idea that accountability means nothing if it does not centre survivors.
While the UN Secretary-General has taken positive steps in recent years to address SEA more broadly, the Organisation has not gone far enough to address harmful gaps in the development and implementation of initiatives. The UN can and must do more for victims to ensure that justice no longer remains out of reach.
Marissa Conway, CEO of UNA-UK, said:
Corruption and abuse in the UN are unacceptable and are in direct opposition to the UN's commitments to protect human rights and build a better world for everyone. We stand with those the UN has failed, and we stand with the courageous people who hold the system, and those in power, to account.
Photo: UNA-UK logo.