Trust, confidence and respect that United Nations peacekeepers had earned over decades must not be eroded by the actions of a few, the General Assembly heard today at the meeting on sexual exploitation and abuse, with speakers calling to address the issue in a decisive and sustained manner.
“One terrible act can wipe out a thousand noble sacrifices,” said Mogens Lykketoft (Denmark), President of the General Assembly, stressing that cases of sexual exploitation and abuse involving United Nations personnel or soldiers deployed in the Organization’s missions were deplorable and shameful.
Underscoring the need for guaranteed swift accountability, he said that it would be welcomed by the Organization’s personnel and soldiers who were deeply committed to furthering the values of the United Nations system. “Making zero tolerance and zero impunity a reality is the responsibility of both the Secretariat, troop-contributing, police-contributing or other Member States alike,” he said.
In the ensuing discussion, several speakers expressed regret that sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers remained a major problem and the number of allegations continued to increase. Such offences had tarnished the image of the United Nations, requiring effective measures to eradicate that phenomenon, others pointed out, while warning against collective punishment.
“Even one case is too many,” said Hungary’s delegate, emphasizing that the most important tool was prevention. All troop-contributing countries must provide appropriate pre-deployment and in-mission training, with the United Nations assisting States in fulfilling those requirements, he added.
Similarly, the representative of Singapore said that the United Nations could not champion the rule of law while its representatives had broken the law or allowed abuses to go unaddressed. Calling for a system-wide approach to address such crimes, he stressed that every allegation must be investigated.
Some speakers emphasized that training was the cornerstone of carrying out peacekeeping mandates and should include pre-deployment and in-mission programmes covering issues such as human rights, sexual and gender-based violence and civilian protection. Many delegates welcomed recent efforts to combat the phenomenon, including the adoption of resolution 2272 (2016) that focused on coordination among stakeholders and taking a system-wide approach.
Sharing national experiences, Uruguay’s speaker described various initiatives to strengthen screening and accountability. Those steps included a pre-deployment test, strong investigation and judicial protocols and the establishment of a focal point to handle cases of sexual abuse and exploitation involving Uruguayan citizens.
Australia’s representative said that personnel on peacekeeping missions received pre-deployment training consistent with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations requirements. For the past five years, Australia had included a sexual exploitation and abuse component in its bilateral exercises with Thailand and Indonesia, and passed legislation that had established jurisdiction over serious crimes committed by its nationals overseas.
Providing a different view, Ethiopia’s delegate stressed that allegations must be based on verifiable facts as some of them did not meet the minimum evidentiary standard. India’s representative recalled that national legislation must be respected while acknowledging that troop- and police-contributing countries had the primary responsibility for the conduct and discipline of their personnel.
Also speaking today were representatives of Lithuania (also on behalf of Estonia and Latvia), Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, France, Sweden, Mexico, Slovenia, United States, Kazakhstan, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Canada, United Kingdom, Cambodia, Finland, Japan, Philippines, Italy, Spain, Ecuador, Argentina, China, Nigeria, Brazil, Bangladesh and Georgia, as well as the European Union.
MOGENS LYKKETOFT (Denmark), President of the General Assembly, said he was deeply appalled by accounts and reports of sexual abuse and exploitation involving international forces, including peacekeepers. When allegations pointed to United Nations personnel or soldiers deployed in the Organization’s missions, it was particularly deplorable and shameful. “One terrible act can wipe out a thousand noble sacrifices,” he said, adding that such crimes were unacceptable and required guaranteed swift accountability. Such accountability would also be welcomed by the United Nations personnel and soldiers around the world who were deeply committed to furthering the values of the United Nations system. “Making zero tolerance and zero impunity a reality is the responsibility of both the Secretariat, troop-contributing, police-contributing or other Member States alike,” he concluded.
GUILLAUME DABOUIS, of the European Union, said civilian protection was at the heart of the United Nations mandate. It was unfortunate that the sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers remained a major problem and the number of allegations continued to increase. Saluting the Secretary-General’s tireless efforts on taking the prevention and corrective measures, he said further transparency and responsibility were needed. Security Council resolution 2272 (2016), aimed at preventing and combatting sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeepers, was a welcomed step towards a system-wide approach. Furthermore, he was happy that the General Assembly had agreed to strengthen the Conduct and Discipline Unit at the Department of Field Support. In many ways, training was the cornerstone in carrying out peacekeeping mandates and should include pre-deployment and in-mission programmes covering issues such as human rights, sexual and gender-based violence and civilian protection. While the responsibility for such crimes rested with Member States, the international community must work together to investigate and take disciplinary action in a timely fashion, he stressed.
RAIMONDA MURMOKAIT? (Lithuania), also speaking on behalf of Estonia and Latvia and associating herself with the European Union, said sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers constituted a “dark stain” on the United Nations conscience. The persistent problem had ample recommendations, lessons and good practices, including systematic pre-deployment and continuous troop and personnel training, making sure force commanders had prior peacekeeping experience and vetting of troops for sexual abuse history. Underscoring the importance of fully and promptly investigating all reported allegations, she stressed that national jurisdictions could not be allowed to shield perpetrators from justice. Better information dissemination among civilian populations was needed so that they would know their rights and who to complain to if abuse did occur. In addition, building trust between United Nations personnel on the ground and local populations was crucial and the Organization needed to change how it viewed its whistle-blowers.
AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said that, despite the sacrifices made by troop-contributing countries, the heinous crimes committed by a few troops required a collective response. Reiterating the commitment of troop-contributing States to the United Nations zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, he said Member States were committed to preventing the recurrence of such a phenomenon. “This is a true crisis confronting the system as a whole,” he said, underscoring the need to address its root causes. Troop-contributing countries shared the responsibility to train troops, criminalize sexual exploitation and abuse and prevent impunity through immediate prosecution in accordance with national laws. The Secretariat also played a vital role in enforcing the zero-tolerance policy, he said, proposing that the Assembly adopt a comprehensive framework decision on the issue during its seventy-first session and install the item permanently on its agenda for future sessions.
SIMA SAMI BAHOUS (Jordan), drawing attention to the increasing number of conflicts, expressed support to the United Nations personnel working in peacekeeping missions. However, it was unfortunate that sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers had negatively affected the Organization’s reputation. All troop-contributing countries must be committed to the zero-tolerance policy and respect the dignity of all humans. Warning against collective punishment, she said the international community must take decisive actions to hold perpetrators accountable. It was also critical to restructure troop training to ensure civilian protection. For its part, Jordan had established a regional training centre to standardize practices for peacekeepers.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers had tarnished the image of the United Nations, requiring effective measures to eradicate that phenomenon. “Each actor has a role to play,” he said, calling upon the Security Council, General Assembly, United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and troop-contributing countries to cooperate towards a lasting solution. Acknowledging relevant resolutions on peacekeeping’s crosscutting issues, he stressed the need for clear guidance. While troop-contributing countries had the primary responsibility to manage the personnel, the international community must ensure that there would not be any collective punishment, he stressed.
NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan) said the primary responsibility of troop-contributing countries to undertake inquiries and dispense justice must be fully respected. The Secretariat must be vigilant, including in areas such as pre-deployment training on conduct, excessive deployment periods, living conditions and camps near or not properly separated from local populations. Member States should not be held responsible for an individual’s criminality and overly intrusive calls for States to renew criminal procedures and legislation should be avoided. Sexual exploitation and abuse must be addressed holistically by the United Nations membership, including through an Assembly resolution and by consulting troop-contributing countries in developing guidelines. Consultations among the Council, Secretariat and troop- and police-contributing countries would be useful, while the Special Committee on peacekeeping Operations could discuss conduct, analyse recommendations and explore the possibility of a special session on the topic.
KATALIN ANNAMA�RIA BOGYAY (Hungary) said the international community could, by uniting its efforts, end the heinous phenomenon. Such crimes were unacceptable and “even one case is too many”, she said. The most important thing was prevention and all troop-contributing countries must provide appropriate pre-deployment and in-mission training, with the United Nations assisting States in fulfilling those requirements. Noting that the better involvement of women in peacekeeping could contribute to ending the unforgivable crimes of sexual exploitation and abuse, she said the primary responsibility lay with States who must properly train their investigation officers and judges. The crimes must be prosecuted and punished, and, as a last resort, Security Council resolution 2272 (2016) could contribute to bringing justice to victims. “We cannot let the actions of a few erode the heroic work of thousands of peacekeepers,” she said.
TANGUY STEHELIN (France) said there must be zero tolerance, no matter the colour of the helmet or uniform. As a troop-contributing country, France had contributed to financing the office of the Special Coordinator and providing a legal expert. It had also implemented a series of transparency measures, in particular with regard to allegations of abuse in the Central African Republic. French troops received strengthened training in line with resolution 2272 (2016) and the country had deployed investigation officers to decrease delays. The identification of perpetrators was the first requirement for justice, he said, adding that “this is a question of honour” and that truth must prevail. Combatting sexual abuse did not mean blaming all “Blue Helmets”, as they continued to work around the world to establish peace and deserved support. Rather, the protection of civilian populations should be strengthened as a collective priority, he said.
PER THORESSON (Sweden) said United Nations peacekeeping personnel represented the highest ideals. However, horrible actions of the few had seriously harmed the Organization’s reputation. All allegations must be taken seriously to put an end to the phenomenon, he continued, noting that the United Nations system must act as one and ensure that those responsible were brought to justice. Underlining the importance of capacity-building activities, he said Sweden continued to train peacekeepers and promote the involvement of women in operations. All whistle-blowers must be protected and Member States must combat impunity while improving measures to ensure the dignity of all human beings.
JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico) stressed that the acts in question had undermined the Organization’s effectiveness and reputation. Expressing support for the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy, he said success hinged on the active participation of every Member State. The United Nations Secretariat and troop-contributing countries had a joint responsibility to provide pre-deployment training, he stressed, describing background checks as key requirements. Acknowledging the key role played by women, he emphasized that their work contributed to ensuring greater confidence and better protection of civilians.
ANDREJ LOGAR (Slovenia), associating himself with the European Union, said most victims of sexual exploitation and abuse crimes were women, children and members of other vulnerable groups. Stressing the need to pay particular attention to the human rights of those members of society, he said Slovenia had established several relevant laws including on notification and investigation of allegations and on disciplinary and criminal proceedings. Pre-deployment training was critical in such areas as child protection, women in peacekeeping operations and civilian protection. Slovenia had been among the first countries to endorse the Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians, which provided a valuable framework. Calling for more investment in human rights education and training, he stressed that implementing the zero-tolerance policy must be the international community’s collective priority.
ISOBEL COLEMAN (United States) said sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations personnel inflicted serious harm on the very communities that had sought their protection and undermined the Organization’s work. Describing a number of recent efforts to combat the phenomenon, including the adoption of resolution 2272 (2016) and of a relevant cross-cutting Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) resolution in May, she stressed that “we must move forward, we cannot go back”. Indeed, no single decision could solve the problem, which must be addressed with constant vigilance by Member States and the United Nations. Expressing firm support for the Secretary-General’s authority to implement the zero-tolerance policy, she called on all parties to ensure that victims received the assistance they needed. “We all have a collective obligation to address this scourge,” she emphasized, also calling for the protection of whistle-blowers.
ALEXANDR KABENTAYEV (Kazakhstan) said the incidence of abuse still continued and troop-contributing countries must commit to the six-month timeline for completing investigations and report back to the United Nations on measures taken. Mobilizing immediate emergency response teams of police and medical officers was also necessary, as they could provide evidence for investigations and facilitate prosecutions. Strengthening the United Nations Comprehensive Strategy on Assistance and Support to Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse should include adequate funding and personnel. “The victims of human trafficking and sexual violence should receive full, competent and speedy attention with increased access to health care, psychosocial support, legal assistance and socioeconomic reintegration,” he added. Broader participation of well-trained women peacekeepers would help to improve the quality of operations, he said, noting that Kazakhstan had been actively working towards implementing Security Council resolution 1325 (2000).
ROLANDO CASTRO CORDOBA (Costa Rica) said positive steps to dealing with the scourge included implementing existing mechanisms, public information strategies, education activities and investigations by national authorities to punish perpetrators. For its part, Costa Rica had continued to support the United Nations and troop-contributing countries in their efforts to eradicate sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers. While acknowledging the important work carried out by the independent panel, he underscored the importance of ensuring the credibility of operations and respecting local populations. “Activities of the few tarnish the heroic work of thousands,” he said, calling upon troop-contributing countries to be involved in the process to eradicate such cases.
OLIVIER MARC ZEHNDER (Switzerland) said sexual exploitation and abuse cases were under-reported and the real numbers were likely higher. It was crucial to ensure preventive measures were taken with a system-wide perspective and accountability must be ensured across all personnel categories. He supported extending the Special Coordinator’s mandate and welcomed the independent panel’s recommendations to review the United Nations response to charges in the Central African Republic. “Each sexual exploitation and abuse case is one case too many,” he said, stressing the need for the United Nations to ensure support for victims and urging States to inform the Secretary-General on the handling of allegations that had been brought to their attention. As domestic legal and policy frameworks were often ill-equipped to address such charges, the issue must be addressed in all relevant committees. Inaction would only undermine the credibility of the United Nations, he said.
MICHAEL DOUGLAS GRANT (Canada) called for greater awareness, action and momentum in combating such crimes. The lack of information and accountability for the horrific crimes that had been committed in the Central African Republic had eroded the United Nations credibility, he said. Member States must back their pledges of support for the Organization’s zero-tolerance with concrete action, in particular in the Special Committee and the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary). Proposing the creation of a survivors’ charter of rights, he said the United Nations and Member States had a joint responsibility to address the issues. There were many actions States could unilaterally take to fight sexual exploitation and abuse, including better screening, training, legislation, transparency and reporting for all personnel categories. The United Nations and Member States should also do more to institutionalize their response to those crimes, including consolidating the position of the Special Coordinator over the long term.
MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) said peacekeepers had helped to build a more peaceful future; however, those who had committed such crimes had destroyed lives and the credibility and reputation of the United Nations. It was unacceptable that 12 new cases had been listed since July alone. Describing “modest” signs of progress, including efforts on the part of some Member States to improve investigations and cooperation with the United Nations, he said initiatives to address fragmentation within the Organization were also bearing fruit. Much remained to be done, however, and Member States must make a genuine commitment. “We need to up our game”, he said, in such areas as prevention and ensuring the criminal accountability of perpetrators. All peacekeepers must be fully vetted, trained and equipped before deployment and they needed to know they would be held accountable if crimes were committed. Troop-contributing countries must have the necessary mechanisms and the will to investigate allegations swiftly and thoroughly and victims needed to be able to see that justice had been done.
GILLIAN BIRD (Australia) said the Secretary-General’s report had outlined progress in implementing many of the Independent Panel’s recommendations, expressing support for commanders and managers to be held responsible for creating an environment that prevented sexual exploitation and abuse, the establishment of a trust fund for survivors and the Secretariat’s reporting on the status of cases. She also supported the proposal for an international convention that ensured the criminal accountability of United Nations personnel in connection with crimes committed in peacekeeping operations, which would require States to exercise criminal jurisdiction over their nationals. Australian personnel deployed to peacekeeping missions received pre-deployment training consistent with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations requirements. For the past five years, Australia had included a sexual exploitation and abuse component in its bilateral exercises with Thailand and Indonesia and passed legislation that had established Australian jurisdiction over serious crimes committed by its nationals overseas.
BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore) welcomed the steps taken to enforce the United Nations zero-tolerance policy, including immediate response teams in peacekeeping operations and community-based complaint mechanisms. Acknowledging the coordination efforts of many troop- and police-contributing countries, he said that national investigation officers were being deployed more swiftly when allegations arose. A culture of responsibility and accountability must be built within every operation. “The United Nations cannot champion the rule of law while its representatives break the law or allow abuses to go unaddressed,” he said, expressing support to the coordination between the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Field Support and troop-contributing countries in strengthening and expanding pre-deployment training. Calling for a system-wide approach to address such crimes, he said the Organization must ensure that every allegation was investigated and no one fell through the cracks.
RY TUY (Cambodia), underlining that thus far in 2016 the number of sexual exploitation and abuse allegations had reached 44, said the international community must not let the actions of the few tarnish the achievements of others. Accountability must be ensured and the immediate needs of victims addressed. The National Centre for Peacekeeping of Cambodia had been providing pre-deployment training personnel on United Nations peacekeeping conduct and discipline, the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, and culture and legislation of host countries. In that regard, he called upon all Member States to take concrete steps to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse and ensure that those responsible were held accountable.
KAI SAUER (Finland) said it was unacceptable that United Nations peacekeepers abused the people they were sent to protect. Equal attention must be paid to prevention, ensuring accountability through timely investigations and judicial proceedings and providing support to victims. All those areas must consider the political, legal, administrative and financial aspects. The different dimensions of sexual exploitation and abuse were tackled in various committees, as well as the Security Council. There were multiple responsibilities involved and many reporting lines and forms of accountability. While useful, today’s debate could not substitute for substantive work in other forums. Greater efforts must ensure that zero tolerance would become a zero-case reality.
HIROSHI MINAMI (Japan) said the implementation of resolution 2272 (2016) was essential to coordinating efforts being made by Member States. Without the cooperation of troop- and police-contributing countries, such measures would fall short. Japan supported e-learning prevention programmes. Robust pre-deployment training was essential and it was important to expand understanding among troop-and police-contributing countries. Japan and the Department of Field Support would hold an event the week of 13 September for that purpose. Underlining the importance of providing assistance to victims, he said Japan would announce its contribution at the United Nations Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial meeting on 8 September in London and, in response to a Secretariat request, had designated a national investigation officer for its troops that had been deployed to South Sudan.
ANGELITO AYONG NAYAN (Philippines) stressed that sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers was inexcusable, unacceptable and had no place in the United Nations system. Such crimes must be addressed through robust pre-deployment and in-mission training programmes, appropriate information exchanges and innovative capacity-building initiatives based on best practices for overcoming impunity. Expressing the Philippines’ strong and unequivocal support for the United Nations zero-tolerance policy, he said such crimes had tarnished the Organization’s image and had done a disservice to the peacekeepers who were risking their lives. The Philippines would hold its troops accountable to the highest standard of conduct and would work in solidarity with other Member States to combat those criminal acts.
INIGO LAMBERTINI (Italy) expressed support for the zero-tolerance policy, especially proposals on prevention, enforcement and remedial action, underscoring the importance of pre-deployment training. The Carabinieri Corps had developed unique training capacities through programmes offered by the Centre of Excellence for Stability Police Units. To date, the centre had provided training to some 9,000 units from 98 countries. Among the training offered were courses for United Nations formed police units and international military police on issues including combating violence against vulnerable populations in crisis areas. The centre had also launched a course on gender protection in peace support operations and introduced the role of a gender and child protection adviser.
FRANCISCA MARA�A PEDROS CARRETERO (Spain), acknowledging great achievements made by peacekeeping personnel, expressed regret that acts of sexual exploitation and abuse had undermined the United Nations credibility. Several consultations had taken place to identify best practices in order to put an end to that phenomenon. As a non-permanent member of the Security Council, Spain had actively supported resolution 2272 (2016) towards a system-wide approach. Troop-contributing countries had the primary responsibility to ensure that deployed staff acted within their mandate and those responsible were brought to justice. Underscoring the importance of pre-deployment training, she noted that Spain’s Ministry of Defence had conducted 16 international courses in Europe and Africa.
AMA�RICA LOURDES PEREIRA SOTOMAYOR (Ecuador) emphasized that peacekeepers had additional responsibilities on the ground as they were the only United Nations contacts for those living in conflict-affected areas. Lack of action and implementation of necessary measures would tarnish the Organization’s credibility, she said, stressing the need for addressing that sensitive issue with a greater responsibility. As a troop-contributing country, Ecuador shouldered its responsibility and was moving forward in implementing the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy to combat impunity.
MARTA�N GARCIA MORITA�N (Argentina) emphasized the need for the United Nations to prevent and punish all cases of sexual exploitation and abuse, proposing the inclusion of the topic on the agenda of the General Assembly. “We must get to zero cases,” he said, adding that measures to be implemented must focus on prevention, accountability and providing help to victims. It was critical to mainstream gender issues into peacekeeping operations and address risks that had been associated with such crimes, including long deployment periods, lack of adequate training and standards of living for peacekeepers. Combating sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping operations could not be held hostage to any other issues at the United Nations, he stressed, calling for cooperation between the Security Council, Secretariat and General Assembly in that regard.
ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) said all policies on sexual exploitation and abuse must be developed in close consultation with troop- and police-contributing countries. Those who committed such crimes were abusing the confidence of the very people they were mandated to defend, he said, describing Uruguay’s various initiatives to strengthen its screening and accountability. Those steps had included a pre-deployment test, strong investigation and judicial protocols and the establishment of a focal point to handle cases of sexual abuse and exploitation involving Uruguayan citizens. Expressing concern with the negative impact of such crimes on the credibility of peacekeepers, he said the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) and the Special Committee should continue to address the issue.
WU HAITAO (China) said that in the last 70 years, thousands of United Nations personnel had participated in peacekeeping operations with a view to safeguarding international peace and security. However, a very few number of them had harmed the reputation of such operations and the image of the United Nations as a whole. To put an end to sexual exploitation and abuse, Member States and the Organization must maintain its zero-tolerance policy and strengthen the accountability and discipline of peacekeepers. The Secretariat, for its part, must provide assistance to all troop-contributing countries, he said, suggesting that all relevant actors must take concrete measures in a coordinated manner.
MICHAEL O. OKWUDILI (Nigeria) said efforts to end such crimes were a mutual responsibility and should not be left to the Secretariat alone. Member States must take the lead by committing to efforts that would prevent such abuse by peacekeeping personnel. Needed steps included investigating and prosecuting sexual exploitation cases, bringing offenders to justice and adopting measures that would lower the potential for such acts. Training was required, as was women’s increased participation in peacekeeping. Underscoring the importance of remedial action for victims, he expressed support for a community-based complaint reception mechanism that had been deployed and urged that contributions be made to the victims’ trust fund.
DIVYA GAURAV MISRA (India) said that, as one of the oldest and largest troop-contributing countries, India remained committed to the policy of zero-tolerance and to prevention efforts. India had also been the first country to contribute to the United Nations Trust Fund for victims of sexual exploitation and abuse, and it supported a holistic discussion on the issue between the United Nations and Member States. Noting that troop- and police-contributing countries had the primary responsibility for the conduct and discipline of their personnel, including in cases of sexual exploitation and abuse, he stressed that national legislation must be respected. In addition, the root causes of such crimes must be addressed.
ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil) called upon the international community to address sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers in a collective manner. Accountability for such offences must be ensured, including by creating concrete guidelines and avoiding the culture of impunity. In addition, the “C-34” Special Committee must have a strong role and international efforts must focus on activities such as pre-deployment training. Regarding the investigation of allegations, it was fundamental to respect due process, encourage meaningful consultations and focus on best practices and lessons learned.
MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia) said that national efforts included providing peacekeepers with the necessary pre-deployment training, including on sexual exploitation and abuse. Ethiopia continued to exert efforts aimed at addressing possible risk factors that might lead to such cases. Allegations must be based on verifiable facts, she said, noting that some of them did not meet the minimum evidentiary standard. Underscoring the need to examine the matter seriously, she stressed that allegations were tarnishing the image of the troop-contributing countries and the United Nations as a whole. Among others, she described the General Assembly as an appropriate forum to discuss that matter and find a comprehensive solution to the problem.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said the trust, confidence and respect that United Nations peacekeepers had earned over decades must not be eroded by the actions of a few. The scourge of sexual exploitation and abuse should be addressed in a decisive and sustained manner, including through strong investigations, accountability and remedial action for victims. Lessons learned must be adequately captured and appropriate responses developed in coordination with actors on the ground. Against the backdrop of the momentum generated to address the issue, he advocated for regular, all-encompassing discussions to continue under the purview of the General Assembly with the involvement of the wider United Nations membership. Addressing sexual exploitation and abuse would not be served by publicity or sensationalism. Instead, steps should include well-designed pre-deployment training, clear standard setting and sustained investment in capacity-building. In addition, he warned, it would be counterproductive to take the approach of collective punishment.
VAKHTANG MAKHAROBLISHVILI (Georgia) said the Government was actively involved in international peacekeeping efforts despite the fact that 20 per cent of its territory remained under foreign occupation. Expressing his commitment to the zero-tolerance policy, he recalled that Georgia had responded quickly to allegations made against its troops in the Central African Republic. Among other prompt actions, Georgia had organized an inter-agency investigation team that had visited the Central African Republic in June and had worked closely with local authorities and intergovernmental agencies. The team had been praised for being highly professional and setting a positive example for other countries, he said, adding that the results of the preliminary investigation had found no evidence of sexual exploitation or abuse by Georgian peacekeepers.
Source: United Nations